Here’s an interesting question to ponder on an early autumn weekend:
You probably remember Barack Obama. He was president for 96 months or 417 weeks or 2,922 days. For some of us, that translates into an interminable 252,460,800 seconds.
Anyway, after 20 months of Donald Trump, the ex-president has chosen to reenter politics. He’s campaigning for select Democrats around the country to help them in the looming midterm elections in just 53 days. So, is Joe Biden, but he wants to be POTUS No. 46.
So, here’s the weekend’s top question:
Who will a campaigning Obama help more — Democrats, who now think of him more fondly than they did at the time, or Republicans, who’ll be reminded by that unctuous voice why they really, really need to vote on Nov. 6? At least once.
It’s not like Democrats have a wide choice of big-name campaigners to help. They’re all geriatrics. There’s Bernie. I said, THERE’S BERNIE. Hillary? But who would hold her up? Nancy’s great at fundraising, but muffles her words a lot. How about Maxine? You get the drift.
Obama is younger and holds the same high approval among Democrats as Trump does among Republicans, like nine-out-of-ten. Obama’s still a real good talker, though the new millionaire sounds kind of whiney about the billionaire Trump getting credit for the booming economy.
Dems as a party have moved way to the left from Obama’s days. They no doubt feel fondly toward him and he could energize some to turn out, especially blacks.
So, he’ll need to steer away from policy controversies and focus on the usual giveaways–universal health care, free college and, obviously, how important it is to rein in you-know-who in Obama’s old Oval Office.
That’s the danger for him and his party. The media still love him, so he could draw ample local attention because his words are so meaningful and important. And they make his crowd feel good about what they had and did. Though much of it is now being undone.
But when you look at both parties today, honestly, who seems more motivated to turn out for midterm elections that historically become interim verdicts on a president’s party? The Trump haters? Or the Trump supporters?
Those who think an outrageous Trump stole the election by winning states Hillary ignored and tricking ignorant American workers to abandon their traditional automatic go-to party? Or the 40+ percent minority that approves of Trump’s agenda and job performance, if not the whirling hurricane of distractions, petty fights and ego trips he generates on the side?
The stakes are huge because a Democrat House could block the next two years of a Trump legislative agenda. This would create a handy foil for the president to run against in 2020.
But it would also create a couple dozen antagonistic committee chairmen with subpoena powers to play around with this impeachment idea that no Dem talks about now because it would fire up Republicans.
Chicago politicians don’t really need to bother with an opposition party. But Obama is savvy and sly. With his me-first politics, he led federal, state and local Democrats into the political slaughterhouse that began in 2010 and, like Obama’s economy, still has not recovered.
Obama will need to be careful which districts he graces with his political presence. Ducking a lot of national publicity, he’ll likely slip into targeted House districts to remind local Democrats of the historic stakes he sees at play here and inspire them even more than Trump does.
Did you see all the national news coverage of Obama’s California campaigning last weekend? No, you didn’t. That’s my point.