Politico: Democrats are eating Obama's legacy like Hannibal Lecter

Well, that’s certainly an attention-grabbing way to put it. Politico has a piece labeling Democrats the “Hannibal Lecter party” because they seem willing to cannibalize the reputation of their own recent leadership, specifically Barack Obama. The entire piece is framed as a comparison between how conservatives built-up the reputation of Ronald Reagan after he left office, while Democrats seem almost eager to shred Obama’s reputation:

Obama now finds himself lumped by many fellow Democrats on the 2020 campaign trail in much the same category as Bill Clinton — a satisfactory presidency, even a pretty good one, but with too many disappointments and too much incrementalism to be transformational…

The debate highlights a persistent reality of modern politics. A generation of conservatives recognized that history is an instrument of power, and built a virtual industry dedicated to celebrating Reagan’s legacy and renaming things in his honor.

Democrats, by contrast, during the same time often have become the Hannibal Lecter party — eating their party’s presidential legacies with fava beans and a nice chianti.

Again, I think there’s a bit of click-bait happening here but the authors, John Harris and Daniel Strauss, do make the point that even Democrats have decided to go a little easier on Obama’s legacy from here on out, that’s still a long way from building up his legacy. At best, Obama is being left behind to fend for himself. At the end of the piece, the authors quote socialist Mayor Bill de Blasio who touches on why this is happening:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking to POLITICO reporters and editors during a newsroom visit Monday, said he gives Obama credit for such achievements as the Affordable Care Act but said: “We have to go a lot further.” Progressives are feeling the sting of “missed opportunities” not only by Obama but other Democrats of recent decades.

This formulation places the blame on Obama for failing to deliver on big progressive goals, but I think it’s more accurate to say that the party itself has moved so far left that Obama’s efforts look quaint in hindsight to a portion of the base. Now that a majority of 2020 candidates are promoting some combination of single-payer, free college, open borders, the Green New Deal, and reparations it’s hard to see how the people supporting these goals could view Obama as anything but timid and compromised. And as de Blasio himself admits, Reagan wasn’t those things, even if you disagreed with him.

On the other side, de Blasio said: “I think Reagan was a singular figure. Much as I disagree with him profoundly, I will give him [credit for a] tremendous sense of how to use that bully pulpit. And he did spark foundational change — from my point of view in the wrong direction — but it was foundational. … I think there is something objective about that fact. I don’t like what he did, but it had a much bigger impact than just what he did in his eight years.”

Again, I don’t think the real problem with Obama’s legacy has much to do with Obama. It has a lot more to do with the hard-left drift of a portion of the party over the past two years. Of course, there are still a lot of relatively moderate Obama fans in the party, which is one reason Joe Biden is leading in all of the polls. But as Bill Maher said recently, there’s a sense that all Democrats really have to do to win in 2020 is not seem so crazy but they are unable to do it. The party is being dragged far-left by a squad of socialists and their supporters. That’s why Obama’s reputation is suddenly on the menu.