Democrats need to get over their Obama nostalgia

On Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, a recurring gag has the host getting misty-eyed over former President Obama. Back in 2017 Colbert showed footage of Obama discussing the Republican health care bill, and responded by saying “I miss you” directly into the camera. In April this year, after talking about President Trump’s child separation policy, he joked that Obama had also “confiscated” children’s “hugs.”

The jokes work because they speak to a deep well of nostalgia for the former leader among the Democratic electorate. He was the avatar of the party for eight years, and the first black president — not to mention intelligent, suave, elegant, and handsome. Especially comparing him to Trump, it’s not hard to see where this attitude comes from.

But it’s long since time for liberals to reckon with the fact that Obama was simply not a very good president. He failed to grasp the reality of his political situation, and often used his power in morally abominable ways. If the Democrats want to put the forces of Trumpism away for good, they will have to do better than returning to the pre-2016 status quo.