I wonder if he has anyone specific in mind.
Here’s a new post-presidential entry for O’s already thick “This is not who we are, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding” lecture file.
Also a fine entry in the sizable “Obama obviously criticizing Trump but refusing to specifically name him” genre:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 5, 2019
It’s practically a DNC press release in how efficiently it summarizes the left’s three takeaways from the weekend:
1. Gun control now, as usual.
2. White-nationalist terror is a real, major, and growing problem.
3. Trump is fanning the flames.
The most interesting thing about the statement is that it exists at all. Obama has kept a lowish profile during Trump’s term so far, possibly because he believes that’s basic etiquette as an ex-president but more likely because he knows that no one galvanizes righties to circle the wagons as much as he does. Attacking Trump here will cause some ambivalent Republicans to feel more defensive of their team, and O surely realizes it. Maybe the magnitude of the double mass shooting left him feeling he had no choice but to say something anyway, even though all he had to say was the same stuff everyone else in his party spent the last few days saying. His sentiment isn’t unique but his role is, after all: He’s Trump’s predecessor and still the most popular politician in the Democratic Party, a man who rarely passed on an opportunity as president to try to define who Americans are and what they will and won’t supposedly countenance. Asking him to turn down a chance to pronounce upon “the right side of history” when the stakes are as high as they are at the moment is asking a lot.
But there’s an eight-dimensional chess possibility. Maybe he chimed in expecting that Trump would go ballistic upon being (obliquely) attacked by him. After all, there’s no surer way to sell Trump on doing something than to tell him that Obama did, or would do, the opposite. And as a matter of personal popularity, it’ll gnaw at Trump to see Obama being praised for this statement, knowing that it’s partly at his expense and designed to draw an unfavorable comparison with him. O must have known in publishing it that it’d be likely to trigger a new Twitter tantrum that’ll undo any political/electoral benefits from this morning’s carefully scripted “national unity” speech in the White House.
Although the flaw in that theory is that that Twitter tantrum’s coming eventually anyway. No need for Obama to light a match when POTUS is so eager to play with matches himself.
An irony worth bearing in mind going forward this week: For all the left’s contempt for Trump, he’s the best chance they’ve had to get gun-control legislation through a Republican White House in many years. Trump is a culture warrior, yes, but he’s also a New Yorker born and raised. He’s not a part of rural righty gun culture; he’d certainly sign expanded background checks, as he indicated this morning, and would go even further, I think — right up to the point where new regulations began to cut into his support among his base. But then, why would lefties care what Trump’s willing to do when they know McConnell isn’t willing to do it? This moment might have had a slightly less antagonistic tone if Democrats were in a position realistically to get Trump to sign something. As it is, they might as well let it rip.