Donald Trump will become president in a few days and Barack Obama is leaving. Or is he? Reportedly, Obama is staying in Washington where he will regularly blast his present and past opponents (in a “dignified” manner, of course) on CNN and MSNBC. Many believe that Trump won because Hillary was a bad candidate, that she is lacking both charisma and honesty. I think that was part of it, but the bigger problem for her, I believe, was really Barack Obama.
But first I should mention that the Democrats are going through major depression and anxiety over the thought of Trump as president. Their behavior is more extreme than at any other time I can remember when their candidate lost. Even Nixon’s comeback victory didn’t provoke such an unhinged reaction from liberals. My favorite is the idea that Trump will bring to America the Orwellian, European custom of the midnight knock on the door followed by storm troopers dragging away some hapless “criminal of the state.”
Meryl Streep most prominently suggested this scenario on some TV awards show. I didn’t see it, but I read that she singled out actor Ryan Gosling as an example of a prime target of the coming Trump Fascist state. Gosling’s problem, you see, is he is Canadian, so according to Streep, he’d better pack up and return to Canada now before Trump’s Gestapo knocks down his door and drags him away to the concentration camp.
The other side of the liberal reaction to Trump is the over-the-top tributes and the rending of garments over Obama’s departure. One example is New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s canonization of our next ex-president:
But there was a calm in the midst of the storm, a rock of familiarity and stability and strength: On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his farewell address in his adopted hometown, Chicago, as a forlorn crowd looked on, realizing the magnitude of the moment, realizing the profundity of its loss.
As the old saying goes: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
I believe that “old saying” is from a Joni Mitchell Mitchell song from the 1960’s, but maybe Blow is young enough to think of the 60’s as the old days.
Still when I think of the Obama administration, the words “calm in the midst of the storm, a rock of stability and strength” do not come to my mind. Nor do I consider his leaving a moment of magnitude or a profound loss. First of all, Obama was probably the most divisive president I can remember. He spent almost his entire eight years campaigning around the country standing in front of worshipful groups of supposedly ordinary citizens where he would portray Republicans as obstructionist, Wall Street toadies and himself as a defender of the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the mostly Hispanic immigrants, illegally in the country as they may be.
That wet kiss for Obama wasn’t enough for Blow:
Whether you have approved of the Obama presidency as a matter of policy or not, it is impossible to argue that Obama was not a man of principle. Whether you agree with individual decisions or the content of his rhetoric, it is impossible to argue that he did not conduct himself with dignity and respect and that he did not lead the country with those values as a guiding light.
And the grand finish:
But none of those differences in opinions about strategy injured in any way my profound respect for the characteristics of the man we came to take for granted: bracingly smart, exceptionally well educated, literate in the grand tradition of the great men of letters. He was scholarly, erudite, well read and an adroit writer…And he was an orator for the ages.
A man of principle? Remember: “If you want to keep your [health insurance] plan, you can”? Remember all the promises Obama made while negotiating tax policy which he always broke later and then blamed the Republicans for the collapse.
Furthermore, he did not conduct himself with dignity and respect. Remember the whisper to the then premier of Russia that after his last election he would be free to reverse himself on Russia policy? Was it dignified to do shtick with Jimmy Fallon on late night TV?
Finally we are told about Obama’s being “exceptionally well educated, literate in the grand tradition” [whatever that means], “erudite, well read and an adroit writer.” How does Blow know that Obama was well educated when we were never allowed to see any of his school records? Remember when Obama pronounced the word corps as corpse? Would an exceptionally well educated person, literate in the grand tradition and erudite do that? Unlike previous presidents Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy, for example, whose records were either voluntarily released or leaked to the press, Obama’s school records were apparently Top Secret. Also, his writing is not adroit; it is amateurish.
Donald Trump was not my first choice for the Republican nomination. He wasn’t even on my list. I was shocked by his victory and have a lot of doubts about him. But I don’t consider his election a catastrophe as the liberal community does.
Somehow I think Ryan Gosling and the “brave” Meryl Streept (because she attacked Trump on TV) have nothing to fear from Trump unless they are terrified that Trump will “tweet” that they are “overrated.”
As Tom Wolfe once wrote about liberal fantasies, “The long dark night of Fascism is always descending on America, but it always actually lands in Europe.”