Victor Davis Hanson:
President Obama is said to feel liberated, in the sense that he can finally say what, and do as, he pleases — without much worry any more over political ramifications, including presidential and congressional elections. Obama’s lame-duck presidency has now devolved into the progressive bully pulpit that his base always longed for. Of course, his editorializing and executive orders may worry Hillary Clinton — much as Donald Trump’s pronouncements do his more circumspect Republican rivals.
Trump is a celebrity who tweets and phones his praise of and insults to comedians, athletes, and media kingpins. But so does Obama love the celebrity world. He is comfortable with Jay Z and Beyoncé, picks the Sweet Sixteen on live television, and has reminded us that he’s the LeBron of the Teleprompter, who won’t choke under the spotlights. Both see pop culture and the presidency as a fitting together perfectly.
Would the Chicago community-organizing cadre be that much different from the Trump Manhattan clique? Isn’t big-city know-how key to “fundamentally transforming” the country? Is there that much difference between Trump’s golden name tags and Obama’ faux Greek columns, vero possumus, “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” and cooling the planet and lowering the seas?
Would not Trump perhaps agree with this Obama assertion from 2008: “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” Both men seem to believe that the presidency is dependent on ratings, something like The Apprentice: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
In his current unbridled commentary and without worry over party politics, Obama has perhaps gone the full Trump — though in the opposite fashion of tossing out politically correct themes of the progressive Left, which lead to little concrete action. So Obama is Trump’s doppelgänger. The two see the world in similarly materialist — though, again, opposite — terms: Trump wants net worth to be the litmus test of political preparation (“The point is that you can’t be too greedy”), even as Obama professes that big money is a Romney-like 1 percent disqualification. Obama’s infamous communalistic quotes to the effect that you didn’t build that, at some point you’ve made enough money, and this is no time to profit are just bookends to Trump’s money-is-everything ideas that he built everything, he’s never going to make enough money, and it is always time to profit.
On matters of race, liberals seem to like the fact that Obama no longer lectures so much about pathologies endemic in black communities, but now focuses on institutionalized bias, as if he is tired of scripted talk about the preservation of the family, the need for education, and the avoidance of illegitimacy and drug use. It is far easier to reduce all that down to institutional racism and legacy unfairness, much as Trump waves his hands about the next complex issue — trade, China, immigration, veterans’ affairs — and tells his audiences that a distant “they” and “them” are the problem. The respective bases both love the message that someone else did it to us.
The media rightly notice Trump’s first-person — I, me, my, mine — overload, but that too is Obama’s favorite kind of pronoun. The president often refers to his “team” in narcissistic terms, as if the West Wing were a sort of Trump Tower. It is said that Trump is tasteless and gets into tit-for-tat squabbles or tosses out gross quips that are unpresidential. One wonders when Trump will make jokes about the Special Olympics, or about siccing lethal drones on the would-be suitors of his daughters. In any case, Trump handled NBC’s Katy Tur in the same manner in which Obama dispensed with CBS’s Major Garrett.
Trump was blasted for editorializing on the tragedy of Kate Steinle’s murder at the hands of a seven-time felon and five-time-deported illegal alien. But that habit of seeking political resonance in individual tragedies bears the Obama imprimatur. Although the Steinle tragedy did not offer Obama the correct political calculus, he has sought to channel Ferguson, Baltimore, and mass school shootings as fuel for his own political agenda. So far Trump has not quite descended to the level of the president’s use of a racial affinity with Trayvon Martin, although his quip about prisoners of war like John McCain being less than heroic comes close.
More importantly, like Trump, Obama does not worry over inconsistency or bombast, and has no hesitation about insisting on things that not only are not, but perhaps could not be, true. Obamacare would, Obama assured the nation, lower premiums and deductibles, reduce the deficit, and allow Americans to keep their current doctors and plans, but in fact it did no such things. Obama repeatedly warned his supporters that our immigration law was unquestioned settled law, duly enacted by Congress, and that no president could unilaterally override it — a strange Freudian foretelling of exactly what the president would soon do. Reset with Russia was the proper corrective to George W. Bush’s alienation of Vladimir Putin — only it was not, and instead ensured new levels of Russian–American alienation. The post-Saddam Iraq was a great achievement; the country was now secure and self-reliant enough for American troops to leave — and then it just wasn’t, after we skedaddled. How exactly did the “jayvee” ISIS team punch above its weight as the varsity? “Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.” That was six years ago, and Guantanamo is still in business.
An egotistical big-mouth with experience and capabilities would be far better than an egotistical, ideological big-mouth with NO experience or capabilities (including the capability to select competent advisers and assistants).
Not that I am a Trump supporter, but given the choice between Trump and Obama, Trump and Hillary or Trump and Sanders, Trump gets the nod. Trump may not be the ultimate solution (or any of the Republicans, for that matter), he would be a step in the right direction and if we take the WRONG step in 2016, the nation will probably fail.
I don’t know if it is fair to say most conservatives have Trump pegged. Trump is liked because he supposedly speaks plainly and candidly. Trump, reminds me of a military recruit who talks big while on the bus to basic training, then promptly washes out in the second or third week. Say it can’t happen? One of my younger, distant cousins washed out in his second week of basic. He talked big before his report time about how he was going to do this and that. The reason for washing out: a lack of personal discipline, inability to follow orders, etc. He tried to apply with the LA Sheriff’s Department and promptly failed his interview. Same reasons.
Trump’s comment that he likes those who don’t get captured than those that do is going to haunt him big time. His attempts to say he was misquoted are not going to wash. My dad, who I noted on a different thread was a POW during the Korean War, isn’t terribly upset with Trump’s comment. He leaves it at face value: Trump is deeply flawed as a potential commander-in-chief and is much like the current one who’s deeply flawed. I’ll go along with my dad’s view, but I still think Trump needs his ass to be bitch-slapped to the ground for his comment.
Heck given the choice between Jeb and Trump, Graham and Trump, Rubio and Trump, Christie and Trump, Huckabee and Trump, Kasich and Trump, Pataki and Trump, and the many little known and obscure candidates and Trump I would have to go with Trump.
During the exact same segment of that very interview Trump said at least 3 or 4 times that McCain “was” a hero but those parts are usually left out. Yes, it was a completely out-of-line and disrespectful thing for Trump to say, but so was McCain’s labeling those voters who attended Trumps whistle stop “Crazies”. Many Democrats said the same thing about McCain when he ran against Obama, and they didn’t have second thoughts at all. Yet that wasn’t “newsworthy.” You should also be even more upset at those leftist shrills. You should also be more upset at McCain for his anti-military and veteran voting record, which did real harm to those who served.
@Ditto: Trump should never have said McCain wasn’t a hero; there is no way to justify or argue that point. Trump tends to shoot his mouth off, but most of the time, he is speaking is wide open mind.
There is plenty to criticize about McCain without denigrating his service and opening himself to worthy criticism. However, it doesn’t appear his caustic remarks has damaged his popularity with the military.
Meanwhile, Hillary continues to tank even before hints of criminal charges begin to surface.
@Ditto #3 –
I don’t particularly care about McCain one way or another. But, Trump saying he likes those who aren’t captured over those who are, it reveals a little of his personal truth. And, it certainly shows Trump shoots off his mouth without thinking. Second point, I’m not going to be upset about everything the left says, the left does or doesn’t do, etc. And, I’m not going to be more upset about, or at, McCain over what he has done or hasn’t done. I have better things to do.
@Bill #4 –
Granted Trump’s poll numbers with the military (active and retired) haven’t changed a whole lot. If you were to ask a more proper question of “who’s your first choice, second choice, or third choice”, then you have a better gauge who they like.
I think we all agree on that. If you think I’m trying to justify what he said, you’re interpreting it wrong. That’s the problem with being a ‘loud mouth’, they always end up saying something they shouldn’t. No, I’m simply pointing out that Trump isn’t the only one who has said that about McCain. And I pointed out that McCain has also said insulting things that he shouldn’t have. Neither excuses the other. Lot’s of politicians make stupid and insulting comments. They should ALL be held to the same standard. Trump, Obama, McCain, Biden, the Clinton’s the Bushes, etc…
Yeah, it shows that he occasionally lets stupid things come out of his mouth without thinking. Biden constantly does the same kind of thing. I’m not sure that he was intending what he was thinking to come out the way it did. He was responding to a question about comments made by McCain, (whom he has good reason not to like). I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt that Trump’s disdain at what McCain said, caused Donald to speak without thinking. (i.e. he misspoke.) If you are going to pillory everyone who misspeaks, you are much less forgiving than I am.
So are you saying that you are going to have different sets of rules for different people? Are you going to hold Trump to a different standard because you don’t like him? That doesn’t make you a very fair judge of people, now does it?