Meghan McCain, The View’s token conservative, hit upon what I see as a unpleasant truth in a recent discussion among the show’s ladies. In a segment covering Barack Obama’s recent commencement speech, which included subtle attacks on President Trump, McCain explained that Donald Trump’s presidency was an answer to Barack Obama.
McCain, Sen. John McCain’s daughter, is no friend to Trump, but she lit into the left for their revisionist history of Obama’s presidency.
“He [Obama] can political anytime he wants, he’s a former president” McCain began.
“I don’t have much to say about this,” she continued. “Obviously, everyone on the left has basically appointed President Obama as nothing short of a saint. Obviously, I feel different as most Republicans and conservatives do. “
“I will say, the culture war that I believe is real and that is raging in this country was ushered in with his administration and exacerbated in the Trump Administration,” McCain added. “And if the election were held today, I do believe Trump would be re-elected. And I think at a certain point, we have to start talking to each other in the middle. And we have to start talking about the fault on both sides because he was not a perfect president and I don’t think perfect presidents would have ushered in the era of Trump.”
Preach it, sister!
I have long believed that President Obama not only broke the Republican Party, he drove much of it crazy. When she was nominated in 2016, Hillary Clinton finished the job. That unhinged quality is evident today as the party marches along behind Trump and salutes smartly as he does everything from subverting the will of Congress with fake national emergencies to suggesting that doctors inject Coronavirus patients with disinfectants to exchanging foreign aid for the investigation of political rivals.
It was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who so angered and frightened half the country that almost half of voters embraced Donald Trump, a man who would have never been considered in any other election year. McCain is correct that a perfect president – or even a good one – would not have left the country in such a state.
Instead, Donald Trump is the logical answer to Obama. While the left loved Obama, Republicans and conservatives saw him as arrogant, divisive, and incompetent. Therefore, Republicans embraced their own candidate who was even more arrogant, more divisive, and more incompetent. And somehow he got elected because Hillary Clinton was yet more arrogant, divisive, and incompetent.
People who criticize Trump should realize that much of his administration has followed Obama’s model. When Trump freezes out Democrats, it is little different than Obama, who rejected Republican suggestions for the 2009 stimulus package with two words: “I won.”
Both Obama and Trump are utterly devoid of any negotiating skills. All of Obama’s signature legislation was passed in his first two years, mostly with a filibuster-proof Senate majority. After Republicans took the House in 2010, he was only able to move legislation forward by executive action (sound familiar?) with the exception of the 2012 deal that averted the fiscal cliff. That deal was primarily accomplished by Speaker John Boehner and bitterly resisted by Obama.
Donald Trump openly acknowledged that he planned to follow Obama’s example before he took office. In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press in January 2016, Trump said, “I won’t refuse it, I’m going to do a lot of things” when asked about Executive Orders.
“I mean, he’s [Obama] led the way, to be honest with you,” Trump added, referring to the executive deal with Iran and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “But I’m going to use them much better and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than he’s done.”
For constitutionalists, the problem is that even good legislation should be passed by Congress rather than be dictated by the president. Obama set the bad precedent and Trump pushed the boundary even further.
Where Barack Obama’s IRS was weaponized against Tea Party groups, President Trump now seeks to weaponize the Justice Department against Democrats. The investigation into “Obamagate” will do what Republicans accuse the Obama Administration of doing, including targeting Administration officials.
Many of Obama’s actions pushed the boundaries of propriety, tradition, and the law. Now Donald Trump is using those improprieties as a springboard to abuse the office even further.
Both men campaigned on division and sought to enact their policies by strict party-line votes rather than persuasion and building coalitions. Since divisive tactics don’t aid coalition building, they then had to revert to executive actions to get things done. If Trump tends to blame Obama for his troubles, let’s not forget Obama’s frequent excuse that things were bad economically because of “my predecessor.”
Both men also have a penchant for ridiculing and insulting their opponents. In fact, Donald Trump’s campaign may have begun at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner where Barack Obama humiliated him, ridiculing his pursuit of conspiracy theories and his television celebrity status.
Donald Trump and Barack Obama bear more than a passing similarity, yet, to the partisans on both sides, both men can do no wrong. This is true even when they do what the other did. Their fanatical and hypocritical fan bases are yet another similarity between the two presidents.
The pendulum swings both ways. Obama was bad. Trump is worse. When the pendulum swings back toward the Democrats – and it will – the limits of the Constitution and executive power may be pushed even further outside the norm. Thankfully, we seem to have averted a Bernie Sanders presidency, at least for now, but who knows what the future holds?
Meghan McCain is also correct that the answer is for the majority of Americans who are in the middle, who dislike the wingnuts representing both extremes to get involved. The success of moderate Democratic primary voters in saying “no” to the Democratic version of Trump, an outside agitator attempting to hijack a party, was successful. There’s no reason that moderates can’t rescue Republicans as well.