President Barack Obama continues to publicly ponder the after-math of the presidential election that handed the keys to the White House to Donald Trump – a man he claimed was unworthy of the honor of holding the office of president.
In each revealing interview, the outgoing president drifts a little further away from the politically disciplined and magnanimous reflection he first presented in the intervening days after the historic election.
In his latest analysis found in the next issue of The New Yorker, Obama appears to have let a bit more of his true feelings about Hillary Clinton and her campaign show than he has up to this point.
“Hillary may have been more vulnerable because she was viewed as an insider. And the reporting around the Goldman speeches”—speeches given to Goldman Sachs executives—“might have reduced her advantage, the normal Democratic advantage, in the eyes of working people, that we were standing for them. I don’t think it was fair, but that’s how it played itself out.”
Here we see the beleaguered president, watching his legacy fade into the sunset, settling into his natural habitat. They same Bernie Sanders-like instincts that allowed him to defeat Clinton so easily in 2008. He has known from the beginning that Clinton was a seriously flawed and vulnerable candidate and he instinctively highlights the high-priced Goldman-Sachs speeches and the greedy, money-grubbing narrative that went along with it.
Later in the column, author David Remnick reports on the sentiment relayed to him from White House staffers as they speculated about why Hillary lost: (emphasis mine)
In a retrospective mood, staffers said that, as Obama told me, Clinton would have been an “excellent” President, but they also voiced some dismay with her campaign: dismay that she had seemed to stump so listlessly, if at all, in the Rust Belt; dismay that the Clinton family’s undeniable taste for money could not be erased by good works; dismay that she was such a middling retail politician.
You see the narrative emerging. Clinton has let down Obama and has made his legacy vulnerable because her greedy desire for tarnished money allowed her to be painted as an unseemly, untrustworthy grifter. And Obama and his team should know, it’s exactly the playbook they used against her eight years ago.
But Hillary’s failure in 2016 has the opposite effect for Obama as it did in ’08. This time around, the president campaigned on her behalf and laid his own legacy on the line by stumping with lines like, “All the progress that we’ve made these last eight years,” he said, “goes out the window if we don’t win this election!”
The post-election niceties are starting to disappear in the rear-view mirror and now, since he set the narrative that Trump’s victory would undo his entire presidency, Obama and his surrogates will start sharpening their criticism of Clinton and her failure.
It’s going to get ugly over there. Isn’t it great?