When former President Barack Obama hits the campaign trail, he hits the campaign trail. He delivered speeches in three different states in the span of a week. It began with a zingy critique of the Trump presidency in California. The second stop was the University of Illinois and he finished up the week with a campaign rally for the Democrat candidates running for governor and lt. governor in Ohio.
In California, he used the example of the “arc of history” – the push and pull in politics. Those who promised hope and those who promote fear, for example. He referenced people in power trying to divide the country. The irony is lost on his swooning audience.
During his speech at the University of Illinois Obama said that Republicans are embracing demagoguing and division. He characterized the rise of President Trump as not the cause of current divisions but a symptom of the divisions brought to light by frustrations with politicians that have led to this time. As I said before, there is no sense of irony noted in the audience’s reaction, though this crowd was much more subdued than the Californians. That probably had to do with the difference in venues more than anything else.
So we made progress, but — and this is the truth — my administration couldn’t reverse forty-year trends in only eight years, especially once Republicans took over the House of Representatives in and decided to block everything we did, even things they used to support.
In Ohio, doing some campaign stumping for Richard Cordray (former Obama administration’s Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) running for Governor of Ohio and his female running mate, Obama reverted to mocking Republicans for “being mad”, even those in office who won their elections. They don’t seem happy, he said.
“Even the folks who won don’t seem happy. Have you noticed that?” Obama told the Cleveland crowd, decrying the country’s “broken” politics. Republicans won the presidency, House and Senate, he said, but “they’re still mad, which is interesting.”
Cordray was appreciative of Obama being there but from clips I’ve seen, it looks like his running mate is the one most outwardly excited. She continued to break into applause as Cordray remained more reserved in his reaction to Obama’s words. He was a fan of the arc of the universe bit.
Thank you, President Obama, not just for your generous words of support last night, but for inspiring so many Ohioans and Americans to take charge of our democracy — to put our hands on the moral arc of the universe and bend it back toward justice.
— Rich Cordray (@RichCordray) September 14, 2018
Anyway, all of this is a strong reminder of the eight years of the Obama administration. I certainly have not missed the virtue-signaling, sanctimonious, ego-centric speeches from the former president. I think that Obama is hitting the campaign trail now because he wants to help get out the vote for Democrats in November and allow them to take back control of the House, if not the Senate. History will not be kind to Barack Obama, however, as he decimated his own party while he was at the helm in the White House.
President Trump is laying waste to any legacy that Barack Obama thinks he has and Trump has done this in less than two years time. Obama is trying to stop the bleeding. He is particularly raw about Trump’s acknowledging economic successes, especially the all-time records being set across the board thanks to his conservative policies put into action. He’s essentially saying to Trump, “You didn’t build that.”
The former president also dinged Republicans in Congress for taking too much credit for the U.S. recovery, and for not changing their message after years of being angry and critical when they were out of power and the economy was growing..
“The Republicans won the House, they won the Senate. They’re still mad,” he said. “Which is interesting. So just remember when you hear about these folks bragging about this economic period, just remember when it started.”
Yeah, “it started” but his administration oversaw the slowest economic recovery since World War II. His administration built up numbers in the failure column – the highest number of American on assistance, lowest workforce participation percentage of working age Americans, small businesses were folding due to the economic aftershock of Obamacare, over-regulation stifled the entrepreneurial class to name a few. Barack Obama had no experience in the business world and the country suffered for that. His Ivory Tower aspirations didn’t translate into reality. All throughout that time, he repeated his mantra that it was the new normal and we’d just have to accept it. How was he promoting hope if the bar for measuring success continually lowered? Where is the aspiration in being told to just suck it up and accept things as they are?
I do not remember a more divisive president in my lifetime. From the time he entered office until the time he left, conservatives were labeled as racist if we disagreed with his policies, he called a ‘beer summit’ when a friend of his – a black professor in Massachusetts – had a dust-up with a police officer while clearly taking his friend’s side, and he sent members of his administration, including his Attorney General to the funeral of a young black man shot after threatening a police officer. If Obama was so concerned about norms, he would never have butted into individual cases while he was president.
Obama criticized America as he toured the world on his frequent apology tours. He went so far as to claim that “Muslim outreach” was a priority for NASA. He led from behind on foreign policy.
His own claim to fame was the ramming through of Obamacare on a one-party vote – blowing up 1/6 of our economy – and it has been a disaster. Insurance premiums rose, doctors declined to accept it, and patients lost their doctors. Obama’s claims about Obamacare earned the title of the biggest lie of the year. Finally, Republicans and President Trump have begun to chisel it apart, beginning with ending the individual mandate. Sadly, Republicans have failed to honor their campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. If Democrats gain control of Congress they will begin the battle for single-payer health care, probably calling it Medicaid for All.
Now Barack Obama is campaigning as though he was the unifier-in-chief. He is demonizing the sitting president and Republican voters from coast to coast as he claims Republicans are demonizing others. Remember the good old days when former presidents stepped aside and refrained from criticizing their successor?
For many years I thought that Jimmy Carter was the worst president of my lifetime. He has now been replaced by Barack Obama. That is his legacy as far as I’m concerned.