Obama Doesn't Understand Trump Any Better Than the GOP Establishment

After giving a speech in Des Moines on the day he declared himself a Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump grants Brent Roske a quick interview in the crowded lobby at Hoyt Sherman Place. 6/16/2016 Photo by John Pemble

After giving a speech in Des Moines on the day he declared himself a Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump grants Brent Roske a quick interview in the crowded lobby at Hoyt Sherman Place. 6/16/2016 Photo by John Pemble
I think you would have to look long and hard to find a White House more out of touch with the nation that it claims to lead than the current one. It is a White House that lives on duplicity and has elevated wishful thinking to the official foreign policy of the United States. Sometimes they remind me of the rather doofus kid in Algebra I who gets the right answer — on occasion — but gets it by a method that is so wrong that it makes you wonder if he had actually been in class.


Before I move forward, let’s have a short recap.

This is a president who hasn’t had a positive job apporoval rating in over two years.

The nation hasn’t felt it was on the right track since this clown has been in office:

On foreign policy, nearly two-thirds of the country thinks Obama can’t tell his ass from a hot rock.

In short, this administration is a failure by virtually any standard that you’d care to use. But they are right on one thing, the GOP created Donald Trump:

Inside the White House, poetic justice looks a lot like Donald Trump.

Past and present aides to President Barack Obama are gloating that a Republican leadership they say defined itself by blustery opposition — and used it to win the House, then the Senate, and stand in the White House’s way at every turn — is getting devoured by a candidate personifying the anger agenda.

Obama insiders would rather have immigration reform signed than lament knowingly on Sunday talk shows that the Republicans will keep losing elections until they deal with the issue. They’d rather have a longer-term approach to government spending, or more of the entitlement and tax reform deals Obama said he was eager to cut.

But on everything from guns to reproductive health to opening up Cuba, Obama’s team says it has been battling for years the very politics that paved the way for Trump’s ascendance this election cycle.


So we know 90% of this is lie, right? At no time in his tenure has Obama attempted to deal with the GOP. When he had majorities in the House and Senate he completely ignored the GOP. He rammed through a scourging of the the US health care industry with a blatantly partisan vote. Of course, “Obama insiders” would rather have signed “immigration reform.” And their crocodile tears over the fate of the GOP is touching but misplaced, 2010 and 2014, and the total devastation of the Democrat party under Obama should be a hint that the GOP can win elections. Obama had the chance to have his deal for two years but didn’t do it because he preferred to have the issue to beat the GOP with.

“It’s not so much a reaction to Obama,” said one person familiar with the president’s thinking about the Trump phenomenon. “It’s more of a reaction to their strategy that, ‘We’re just going to be antithetical to everything [Obama] stands for.’”

According to people in the White House, Obama doesn’t talk about Trump much. When he does, it’s with a combination of amusement and disgust at the rhetoric, occasionally mentioning his amazement at GOP leaders’ inability to understand Trump’s supporters and the long-term damage the president thinks Trump is doing to the party with the groups of voters who will decide future elections.

The misconception that Obama has, a misconception that he undoubtedly believes because in his universe everything is about him. But enough about what the don’t understand, let’s hit what they get right. The GOP leadership is very adept at exactly one thing: Failure. It is their religion. It is their way of life. It is their raison d’être. They have raised this to an art form: Failure Theater. Failure theater has given the GOP a way of going along with Obama while seeming to oppose him and using the failure to raise money from the rubes in fly-over country.


The unraveling started in 2010 when the GOP made the pitch “if you give us the House then we’ll stop ObamaCare.” There was a government shutdown over the issue — a shutdown, like the 1995 edition — that despite popular mythology did not hurt the GOP — and the GOP mostly caved but did rack up a small win, the sequester, that has since been bargained away.

We got a lackluster candidate in 2012 to do the near-impossible, i.e., beat an incumbent president.

In 2014, the GOP was back with “if you give us the Senate we will stop ObamaCare.”

And we know how that has worked out. No matter the issue the GOP, particularly the Senate, got used like a drunk, fat girl at a fraternity party. When the House had a chance to do something about abortion, Republican women who claimed for years to be pro-life were suddenly exposed as pro-aborts. Even national security was not immune as a deal was cut to give the Iranians nuclear weapons and relations with Cuba were normalized even as dissidents languished in Castro’s prisons. Nothing could be done, they said. But give us the presidency and we’ll all kinds of really neat sh**.

So, yes, Trump is a creation of the GOP. But he is a more specifically a creation of the way the GOP has dealt with the way that the Obama administration has set class against class and race against race. The way they did nothing as he has ignored the rule of law and the traditions of governance. The way they yawned as he has done his level best to destroy civil society and use the coercive power of the state as nothing more than an adjunct of the Democrat party. Trump is the creation of anger and that anger is only going to grow during Obama’s last year in office when he tries to accomplish more and more by executive fiat.


More than the obvious condescension of those who see themselves as our betters is the utter moral and ethical corruption. We see the same consultants recycled from campaign to campaign, losing with aplomb and getting fatter and sleeker with each loss. We see our contributions to candidates used as a piggy bank by those consultants. We see good candidates, honorable men and women, betrayed by these consultants (see Walker, Scott and Palin, Sarah). We see other honorable men libeled and slandered because they actually practice what they preach and we see the establishment go to the mattresses to support their opponents, even if they are noticeably senile, dishonest, old adulterers (see McDaniel, Chris and Wolf, Milton).

I don’t know if Trump can be stopped. I am pretty sure the more that Jeb Bush and John Kasich and their financial backers complain, the more that roly-poly K Street lobbyists, drunk on federal cash bitch, the more the Mitch McConnells and John McCains and Lindsey Grahams howl, the stronger the outrage will become.

The other point that the Obama White House misses — and a lot of folks on our side miss, too — is that the rage is not the exclusive province of disgruntled white working class men. It come heavily from that class, a group that has been shat upon with monotonous regularity by the political hierarchy in both parties and has been virtually attainted (yes, that is a word, look it up) as a terrorist class by the Obama administration.


Still, Obama’s team refuses to see Trump’s political success as some kind of backlash against the president.

“In the long sweep of history, this chapter is all pretty simple: The country actually switched from one dominant culture that was in charge for 240 years to one that’s multicultural,” said one Obama campaign veteran. “And that wasn’t going to go easy. But now we’re in the middle of it, so it seems chaotic and complicated.”

They also won’t concede that Trump might win. The billionaire real estate developer’s six months atop the GOP primary race have coincided with arguably the most successful year of Obama’s presidency — scoring deals with Iran (my italics: an agreement Iran did not sign and the Congress did not support) and Cuba (my italics: an agreement that Congress still has not agreed to ratify) and on climate change (my italics: a meaningless agreement that Congress has not agreed to support) and trade, and seeing previous efforts on Obamacare (my italics: not a complete victory and at the cost of corrupting the Supreme Court) and gay marriage secured by the Supreme Court (my italics: and at great cost to civil society). That this all happened simultaneously with Trump’s rise demonstrates how little support Trump politics has in the country, Obama’s aides say (really? they can’t see the linkage?).


The rise of Trump is inextricably linked to Obama’s destructive presence. Trump may not win the nomination, and I think there are a lot of good reasons to suspect that he won’t, but that anger is very real and it is not going to subside. And if anyone wants to beat Trump they need to understand… and damned fast… that we, as a nation, are well beyond the point of reasoned debate and nuance and we aren’t far away from putting heads on pikes. The White House may not want to believe it but all polls show Hillary’s lead over Trump being within the margin of error and if the nation ever comes to that November Rubicon, that fateful day when they have to vote for Trump or go for eight more years of an Obama with a sorta functioning vagina then they are going to vote for Trump.

I know I will.

Photo credit: John Pemble via Flickr Creative Commons


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