President Obama Actively Mocks Republicans While Campaigning For Hillary Clinton – And They Deserve It

president-barack-obama

If Barack Obama seems like he is savouring the discomfort of Republican politicians struggling to save their seats as Donald Trump drags them down in the polls, it is no less than many of them deserve

As President Obama prepares to leave office, America’s guns have still not been confiscated, citizens have not been sent to FEMA re-education camps and the “world’s greatest healthcare system” (ha!), though certainly tampered with, remains broadly intact. And given the alarmism and sheer cynical scaremongering bandied about by Republican politicians happy to trawl for votes by playing to peoples’ base prejudices, one can understand Barack Obama’s decision to spend his presidential swansong reminding us of all the crazy things that intemperate Republicans predicted he would do in his two terms of office.

This blog has been no great fan of the Obama presidency, though I certainly found him preferable to the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008. True, coming from far more socialist Britain I bring a vantage point and sense of perspective which I think is often lacking in American conservative commentators who are quick to cry “communism!” without really thinking through just how much worse things could be (socialised medicine? I’ll show ya socialised medicine!) But overall this blog has been disappointed with the failure of what was billed as a transformational presidency to really do much transforming for the good.

Yet much of that failure and stasis has been the result of Republican obstructionism rather than the personal failings of Barack Obama – and often unreasonable obstructionism at that. Mitch McConnell’s pledge that the Senate’s top priority should be to make Obama a one term president is emblematic of the party-before-country cynicism which often motivated Republicans to take bold and sometimes extreme stances in support of “liberty” which ultimately only had the effect of preserving the status quo – a state of affairs which harmed many of their own supporters (one of the main reasons for Donald Trump’s rise).

On issue after issue, Republicans succeeded in fighting the Obama administration to a draw. Even Obamacare borrowed heavily from the Massachusetts healthcare reforms of GOP grandee and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, its unbearably socialist individual mandate lifted from the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

And yet to listen to Republicans talk, one would sometimes think that Obama had actually succeeded in his Evil Marxist Kenyan plan to turn America into North Korea. Of course, this involves turning a blind eye toward all the fiscal excesses of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush – but Republicans are generally happy to do just that, and pretend that fiscal profligacy began on Obama’s watch.

Given all of this context, one can understand President Obama’s temptation to have a little fun at the expense of those Republicans who fought much of his agenda to a standstill yet still dared to suggest that he was successfully imposing “socialism” on America. And as Tim Murphy outlines at Mother Jones in a piece entitled “Barack Obama’s Sweet Revenge Tour”, the president has frequently succumbed to that temptation in recent days.

Murphy writes:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is the highest it has been in 45 months, and Republicans have taken note. In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman is running an ad boasting of his work with the Democratic commander in chief “to break the grip of heroin addiction.” In California, Rep. Darrell Issa—who once called Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times”—is sending out mailers with Obama’s face on them, touting his work with the president “to protect victims of sexual assault.”

There is a problem with that strategy, though, which is that Obama seems determined to spend the last two weeks of the election laying waste to every Republican who ever crossed him. Though Obama was a liability to Democrats in the 2014 midterms, his renewed popularity has made him the most sought-after advocate for Hillary Clinton and down-ballot Democrats this fall. At rallies and in fundraisers in battleground states and swing districts, Obama has ripped into Republican lawmakers with a mix of exasperation and disdain, mocking their belated rejection (or continued support) of Donald Trump and casting the GOP presidential nominee as the logical endpoint of eight years of toxic hostility.

Issa, who is facing his most competitive race in years, was the most recent Republican to feel his wrath. At a fundraiser in La Jolla on Sunday, Obama trashed the California Republican for his mailer. “Issa’s primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere,” he said. “This is now a guy who, because poll numbers are bad, has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me. Now that is the definition of chutzpah.”

First off, I’m not quite sure what the SJW cultural appropriation police would have to say about an African American using the Yiddish word “chutzpah”. Actually, I think we all know what they would say – “people of color” sit higher in the hierarchy of victimhood, while any attack on Jews (always conflated with Israel and Israelis) is perfectly legitimate in SJW world. But I digress…

It is galling indeed to see Republican establishment cronies like Darrell Issa – politicians who literally made a career suggesting that Obama was incompetent at best and anti-American at worst – suddenly try to wrap their arms around the outgoing president simply because the man at the top of their own party’s ticket is immensely divisive, offputting to whole swathes of the electorate and likely sinking to inglorious defeat on November 8.

But this is the part of Obama’s campaign speech which really cuts to the core in its incisive criticism of Republican failings and strategic/moral missteps since 2008:

Here’s the thing. For years, Republican politicians and the far-right media outlets have pumped up all kinds of crazy stuff about me. About Hillary. About Harry. They said I wasn’t born here. They said climate change is a hoax. They said that I was going to take everybody’s guns away! They said that while we were doing military exercises that we’ve been doing forever, suddenly this was a plot to impose martial law. This is what they’ve been saying for years now! So people have been hearing it they start thinking well maybe it’s true! And if the world they’ve been seeing is I’m powerful enough to cause hurricanes on my own and to steal everybody’s guns in the middle of the night and impose martial law—even though I can’t talk without a ‘prompter—then is it any wonder that they end up nominating somebody like Donald Trump?

And the fact is that there are a lot of politicians who knew better. There are a lot of senators who knew better but they went along with these stories because they figured you know what this’ll help rile up the base, it’ll give us an excuse to obstruct what we’re trying to do, we won’t be able to appoint judges, we’ll gum up the works, we’ll create gridlock, it’ll give us a political advantage. So they just stood by and said nothing and their base began to actually believe this stuff. So Donald Trump did not start this. Donald Trump didn’t start it, he just did what he always did which is slap his name on it, take credit for it, and promote it. That’s what he always does. And so now, when suddenly it’s not working and people are saying wow this guy’s kind of out of line, all of a sudden these Republican politicians who were okay with all this crazy stuff up to a point suddenly they’re all walking away. Oh, this is too much. So when you finally get him on tape bragging about actions that qualify as sexual assault and his poll numbers go down, suddenly that’s a deal-breaker. Well what took you so long! What the heck! What took you so long! All these years!

Well, that is probably just about the most incisive piece of commentary on the failings of the Republican Party you’ll read in the media, and it came from none other than the target of the GOP’s efforts, the current president of the United States.

In actual fact, Obama’s complaints about Republican willingness to flirt with the crazy element echo charges that this blog has been making for some time, notably here:

It was the tri-cornered hat brigade whose admirable devotion to fiscal responsibility only materialised once Barack Obama took office, and then failed to force any meaningful change in Washington despite many of their number being elected to Congress in the 2010 midterms which, who have a case to answer. They were the Great White Hope whose inevitable failure formed the third strike against the political class.

It was not the Democratic Party which fanned the flames of birtherism (and then considered a nominee for president who was born in Canada) and refused to stand up to angry constituents demanding to see a birth certificate. That was all on the Republicans. Donald Trump led that effort, and nearly the entire GOP sat back with a tub of popcorn, thinking that the circus would benefit them politically. And so it did, until their attack dog finally broke the leash and turned on its handlers.

Has Barack Obama been a decidedly left-wing and in some (though by no means all) ways unimpressive president? Yes, he has. But is he a closet Communist, a secret Muslim planning to enforce hardline Islamism on America or a hopelessly incompetent buffoon? Absolutely not. He is a centre-left politician with undeniable skills, twice elected on a centre-left platform and governing according to a centre-left approach. But in their greed to quickly win back power without doing the hard work of making their own pitch to the voters more appealing, too many Republicans were willing to tolerate and sometimes actively participate in the anti-Obama hysteria for short term political gain.

And here:

Remember, this is a political party which urged Americans in all seriousness to vote for Sarah Palin as vice president back in 2008. Sarah Palin. The Republicans have been dabbling in crazy and courting the proudly ignorant vote for decades. Donald Trump is nothing but the GOP’s longstanding approach taken to its logical extreme.

And if decent conservatives want to ensure that they never again find themselves in a position of seeing their movement taken over by an ignorant, populist demagogue then they might want to stop blaming Democrats for their own self-inflicted misfortune and instead re-examine their behaviour both in government and opposition.

Was it wise, for example, to pretend to be super tough on immigration, yet ultimately do nothing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants or otherwise reform the system, simply because Republican donors had no interest in changing the status quo, with its plentiful cheap labour for corporations and affordable illegal domestic service for households?

Was it wise to continually shriek not just that Democrats wanted to impose stricter gun control but that they were actively seeking to abolish the Second Amendment? (The big push to completely outlaw guns trumpeted in GOP propaganda has been just weeks away for the past eight years now – is Obama waiting until his very last day in office to take America’s guns?)

Was it smart to prance around as the party of national security while consistently involving America in foreign conflagrations which increased anti-American sentiment, or to pose as the party of civil liberties while loudly cheerleading for the surveillance state?

Was it really such a genius move to talk endlessly about the benefits of tax cuts for ordinary Americans while focusing them overwhelmingly on the wealthy, or to cynically pretend that America’s lost manufacturing jobs could be easily brought back home in the age of globalisation and international supply chains?

At nearly every election going back to the Bill Clinton administration and probably earlier, the Republican Party has been writing rhetorical cheques that its politicians cannot or will not cash when they are either in office or a position of influential opposition, at a national or statewide level.

The Republican Party’s more excitable members need to learn that you can’t go on shrieking that the Bad Democrat is coming to take away your guns and your liberty – and then seamlessly make the transition to accusing their successor of the same sinister motivations when the Day of Tyranny never materialises – without eventually losing a degree of credibility. If I started predicting that the world is going to end at the coming weekend, and then just roll my prediction forward by seven days each weekend that I am proven wrong, pretty soon people will stop listening to me.

When Barack Obama took office the Democratic Party  enjoyed two years controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, and yet the nation’s guns remained un-confiscated then, and are still un-confiscated now. And eventually these panicked claims start to look more and more like the cynical politicking that they are.

Republicans should take note when it comes to their incessant scaremongering about the Second Amendment. At this rate, if and when gun rights are under real imminent danger, we will have been warned so many times before that we will not take the threat seriously.

But this is much bigger than any one issue. Unfortunately, one gets the nasty feeling that the Republicans are not learning anything from the Trumpian calamity which they have brought down upon themselves. This blog can quite easily picture another four years of the same hysterical End Times opposition to a President Hillary Clinton – “She’s coming for your guns! I mean it, I’m serious this time!” – and the wholehearted embrace of any conspiracy theory or fringe movement so long as it delivers short term political gain and/or helps to sell more gold coins to paranoid seniors. And what fresh horror will be conjured next, after VP candidate Sarah Palin and presidential candidate Donald Trump?

Depressing? Certainly – America has never needed principled, true conservative leadership more than at this time. But the tragedy is entirely self-inflicted. The Republican Party summoned some viscerally unpleasant forces in its effort to torment the outgoing president and thwart his agenda. Now that they are being consumed by the very forces that they unleashed, can anyone really begrudge Barack Obama his moment of sweet schadenfreude?

 

why-does-obama-hate-america-rudy-giuliani

Top Image: Pixabay

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

Advertisements

Will The Race For The White House Be Decided By Shy Donald Trump Voters?

mother-jones-progressive-turnout-project-shy-trump-voter

Shy Tories helped the Conservative Party to an unexpected outright victory in the 2015 general election in Britain, while some say that “shy Brexiteers” helped to push the UK out of the European Union. Are shy Trump supporters now about to help elect Donald Trump president of the United States?

The progressive Mother Jones magazine has just sent its readers a panicked bulletin asking them whether or not they would “secretly vote for Trump”.

Given the left-wing readership of Mother Jones, it is a safe bet that very few people will respond in the affirmative, but the mere fact that Mother Jones and their partners the Progressive Turnout Project are asking the question at all tells us something very interesting: that American leftists and Democrats are terrified that the polls may be deceiving them and that their progressive dream might be undone in November by the “shy Trumpist” factor.

From the email (their emphasis is bold):

Political experts believe that a shocking number of voters are secretly supporting Trump — but are ashamed to voice their support publicly.

This is evidenced by the fact that Trump continues to perform better in online polls than in phone polls.

Nate Silver recently ran a national presidential poll and the results were SHOCKING:

In telephone polls — where the respondent is asked to disclose their preference to a live person — Hillary Clinton is polling at 86%. But in online and robo polls, Hillary polls 15% LOWER, at 71%.

Researchers speculate that this discrepancy is due to the fact that many respondents simply are embarrassed to admit they’re voting for Trump.

[..]

The truth is, the Trump campaign agrees this is happening.

They’re counting on a large number of ‘silent’ voters to come out in droves on Election Day and carry Donald Trump to victory.

We can’t let that happen.

The New York Times reported on the same phenomenon back in May:

There is also strong evidence that most traditional public opinion surveys inadvertently hide a segment of Trump’s supporters. Many voters are reluctant to admit to a live interviewer that they back a candidate who has adopted such divisive positions.

In matchups between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump does much better in polls conducted online, in which respondents click their answers on a computer screen, rather than in person-to-person landline and cellphone surveys.

An aggregation by RealClearPolitics of 10 recent telephone polls gives Clinton a nine-point lead over Trump. In contrast, the combined results for the YouGov and Morning Consult polls, which rely on online surveys, place Clinton’s lead at four points.

Why is this important? Because an online survey, whatever other flaws it might have, resembles an anonymous voting booth far more than what you tell a pollster does.

[..] In a detailed analysis of phone versus online polling in Republican primaries, Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, writes “Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters”.

This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.”

Concluding:

The simple fact that Trump has beaten the odds so far means that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could beat them again. If he does take the White House, much, if not all, of his margin of victory will come from voters too ashamed to acknowledge publicly how they intend to cast their vote.

But is this really likely to happen in America? Well, the “shy Tory” factor is certainly real and has been proven in election after election in Britain, with the Guardian recently lamenting:

“Well hung” was the headline on the Sun’s front page, while the Guardian ran with “It couldn’t be closer”. The polls were predicting Labour and the Conservatives were neck-and-neck, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.

All of the polls significantly underestimated the Tories, and they were strikingly consistent in how wrong they were. Populus put Labour one point ahead, BMG, Survation, YouGov and polling by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft all predicted a tie. Opinium predicted a one-point lead for the Tories, as did ComRes and Ipsos Mori.

So when the exit polls just after 10pm predicted 316 seats for the Tories – up nine seats from 2010 – and Labour a devastating 239 seats, with the Lib Dems obliterated to just 10 and the SNP winning all but one seat in Scotland, many could not believe it was true.

[..] The same excuses are being floated this time as were used in 1992: changing methods of polling, “shy Tories” who did not want to admit they were voting for John Major, and a very late swing of undecideds.

While during the EU referendum campaign, this blog weighed in on the “shy eurosceptic” phenomenon:

So what are we dealing with here? It’s the same factor which makes otherwise confident, extroverted people drop their voices to a hushed and conspiratorial whisper when discussing their conservative political leanings in an elite (or creative/artistic) workplace,or makes a school teacher think twice before openly contradicting the biased, anti-Tory ranting of their colleagues.

But it is more than simply avoiding hassle. For many people, not only the elites, it is also a case of seeking to avoid very tangible real-world consequences of being known to hold unfashionable opinions – the threat of public ridicule, professional censure or even job loss, simply for committing thought-crime.

Maybe nobody will care if you fail to join in the joking with your colleagues when they laugh about Nigel Farage or mock those knuckle-dragging Little Englanders who want to pull up the drawbridge on Fortress Britain. But maybe they will notice, and maybe it might lead to an awkward question: “Wait a minute, you can’t seriously support those racists, can you? You’re having a laugh, right?” Far easier to just go along with the crowd. Why risk antagonising the boss, or the people you sit next to every day? Why risk that upcoming promotion? Better just stay silent.

[..]  There are many social settings – mostly where the social, academic or artistic elites live and work – where expressing a eurosceptic opinion or declaring one’s support for Brexit is tantamount to reading aloud from Mein Kampf in the town square. But conversely, there are no equivalent places or scenarios where one might reasonably expect to be actively persecuted for expressing pro-EU sentiments.

Goodness knows just how many secretly anti-illegal-immigration, vaguely nationalist, protectionist authoritarians there are lurking in the enclaves of America’s coastal elites. But whether they are a handful or a small army, you can bet that they will be keeping quiet about their political preferences. Why invite public ridicule, social isolation and all of the other negative consequences of a political climate which has seen Hillary Clinton describe half of Donald Trump supporters as “deplorable” racists, and in which people like them are used as daily cannon fodder on channels like MSNBC?

It is certainly the case in Britain that many people simply dare not express their perfectly mainstream and legitimately held conservative opinions because of the toxic and hateful anti-Tory, anti-Brexit hysteria whipped up by the permanently outraged Left, who insist on seeing evil rather than mere political disagreement. And this culture is certainly no more harmonious or respectful in the United States. Therefore it follows quite reasonably that there may be a mass of voters, unimpressed with President Obama’s two terms of office and with deep concerns over Hillary Clinton, who find themselves in the unexpected position of preferring Donald Trump but are unable to confess their thoughtcrime to friends, family or pollsters.

And then again, maybe not. That’s the awkward thing about these “shy voter” phenomena – they seem so obvious the day after an election, but are almost impossible to pin down before polling day thanks to their tendency to lie to pollsters.

But if I was a Hillary Clinton-supporting progressive, I would not be taking any chances. And I would start asking myself whether the pleasurable short-term catharsis of denouncing all Donald Trump supporters as selfish, evil and ignorant is worth the risk of driving even more of his supporters underground, beyond the influence of both Democratic Party outreach and out of reliable communication with opinion pollsters.

Unfortunately, most American leftists don’t seem to have gotten the message yet. Here’s Jonathan Chait, making himself look smart at the expense of making things even worse:

Following the classic definition of a gaffe as a politician telling the truth, Hillary Clinton’s comment about Donald Trump’s supporters (“just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”) was the purest and most classic example. The national media has spent a year and a quarter documenting in exquisite, redundant detail the rabid, anti-intellectual nationalistic bigotry of Trump’s hard-core fanbase. But it has taken Hillary Clinton’s affirmation to transform this by-now-banal observation into a scandal.

[..] Clinton controversially described half of Trump’s supporters as “irredeemable.” Trump earlier this year framed the same idea in a more colorful and perhaps more damning way: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Both statements reflect the same underlying truth: Trump enjoys a hard-core support that lies beyond persuasion, utterly immune to even the starkest factual evidence. Clinton committed a gaffe because she acknowledged a reality that literally every other person in America, including Donald Trump himself, is permitted to speak aloud.

Keep on laughing, strutting and preening if you must, American liberals.

I just hope that today’s feeling of smug superiority does not warp into the numb disbelief of defeat when the half of the country that you so love to demonise ends up delivering Donald J Trump to the White House.

 

Donald Trump Rally

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.