A moment of schadenfreudean fun for the entire American right, pro-Trump or anti. I’ll bet there were some dark hours at the White House last night with O wondering if maybe he should have skipped those Trump jokes at the 2011 Correspondents Dinner after all.
We’re going to hear a lot here about the “peaceful transition of power” and respecting the choice of the people, etc. Things will get interesting, assuming he takes questions, when he’s inevitably asked whether he still believes what he said, um, two days ago about Trump being grossly unfit to hold the office. My guess is he’ll say that the past is the past, he’s made his feelings clear, but the people have spoken and now it’s time to work together for the good of the country. He’s already invited Trump to the White House after all, which should preempt an awkward question about whether he really plans to be in the same room as the Birther-in-Chief. Being the big man here isn’t just the right option, it’s the only option.
But then he’s going to get a tougher question: Doesn’t Trump’s victory … utterly destroy your political legacy? This guy took office with both houses of Congress in Democratic hands and he’ll leave with Republicans in complete control of government and having made major gains nationwide at the state level. That’s some report card. Ben Domenech:
Make no mistake about it: this election is Barack Obama’s legacy. He pushed hard for Hillary Clinton in the end because he understood that as such. And it was all for naught. No celebrity, no sports star, and no current president with a strong approval rating was enough to drag Hillary Clinton over the finish line. What did Obama say? What epithets did he utter? And on what did he blame the result? Schadenfreude has always been part of the case for Trump, and it is particularly sharp when it comes to the feelings of the current chief executive…
What is clear is this: Donald Trump is the man Americans have chosen as their vehicle for the dramatic change they demand from Washington. They have utterly rejected the change offered in the eight year Barack Obama agenda as wholly insufficient. And they have given Trump the rare gift of a united government in order to make those changes happen. They have tossed aside the assumptions of an elite class of gatekeepers and commentators whose opinions they disrespect and disavow. And they have sent a message to Washington that nothing less than wholesale change will satisfy them, including a change in the fundamental character of the commander in chief.
As a believer in constitutional limited government, this is an electoral result I find hopeful for more reason than one.
I am … not as hopeful on that last point, but the rest is true enough. Read this insightful critique by Robert Tracinski, also writing at the Federalist today, of the many ways Obama laid the groundwork for Trump’s upset, starting with the fact that he and his courtiers in the Democratic establishment clearly preferred a weak, damaged candidate like Clinton from the beginning. That might have choked off opportunities for more electable Democrats — starting with Joe Biden. Also, what does O say today when he’s asked whether the economic recovery he’s touted for eight years simply hasn’t showed up strongly enough for the working class he claims to care so much about? I think he’ll actually seize on that as a core reason for Clinton’s defeat, if only because it’ll spare him from having to confront the possibility that the liberal cultural preferences he favors ended up alienating the broader country and spurring an electoral backlash. He and the left are heavily invested in the idea that they’re on the “right side” of history; better for him to acknowledge that he didn’t get the job done economically, and that the fabled bitter-clingers rewarded Trump for that, than admit that maybe history doesn’t have sides after all. (The bitter-clinger remarks in 2008 were about small-town Pennsylvanians, remember, exactly the cohort that defeated Hillary last night.) We’ll know soon.
Oh, one more question for O this a.m.: How does it feel to know that ObamaCare will soon be repealed and replaced? His facial reaction alone when a reporter ends up asking that is a reason to tune in.
Update: He was indeed the big man. No hard questions for him, though — yet.