I’ve given it a couple weeks. I thought at first I was just having a visceral reaction to a man I find exceedingly culpable for fanning the flames of discord in our country. He did so feverishly for eight years, all for the gain of his own personal brand. But I’ve waited for two weeks and I can’t shake the sense of indignant disbelief at the hubris of our former president.
Perhaps none of this actually happened. Perhaps this is his former aide Ben Rhodes struggling to tell the truth again. Perhaps this is just more embellishment of a man whose relative greatness was perfectly symbolized in the gigantic Greek columns that were actually made of Styrofoam and removed by the night custodians at Hyde Park.
But since we’ll never know if this is just yet another false narrative from a presidential squad that mastered that art for almost a decade, we must operate under the assumption that Rhodes is serious when he writes that after the 2016 election, Barack Obama had an introspective conflict between knowing how great he was, and knowing that we just weren’t yet ready for him. I’m not kidding. These are the words from the New York Times story that I just can’t get past:
Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory…“Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
Fall back into their tribe? It is impossible to find a president before him who did more to isolate people into tribes than Obama. Remember:
- It was Obama that tactlessly berated the Supreme Court during a State of the Union Address for daring to rule against him.
- It was Obama who taunted Republicans from his opening moments as president by declaring, “Elections have consequences and I won.”
- It was Obama who mocked his ideological opponents by suggesting that Republicans could come with him but they were going to have to ride in the back of the bus for awhile.
- It was Obama who intentionally invited Paul Ryan to sit in the front row, unable to respond, as he publicly trashed Ryan’s budget plan with mischaracterizations and innuendo.
- It was Obama that scorned those of us in “fly-over country” as bitterly clinging to our guns and religion.
- It was Obama that stirred the race tempest repeatedly: from his references to “typical white people,” to falsely accusing the police of “acting stupidly” in their reasonable and appropriate detention of Louis Gates, to wading into the Trayvon Martin furor before the facts were known, to accusing the police of racism in Ferguson, Missouri even after the grand jury decision.
- It was Obama that used memorial services to slaughtered victims of gun violence to lead lobby for his politics.
- It was Obama that bragged about unilaterally circumnavigating Congress and enacting policy with his “pen and a phone.”
- It was Obama whose own Vice President equated Republicans to terrorists – an offensive comparison that was backed up by others in his administration.
In short, Barack Obama’s entire presidency revolved around dividing people as a means to accruing power. Supremely unqualified for the role of an executive, he had mastered the art of political organizing, fund-raising, and posturing. Community organizers like himself are exceptionally adept at agitating people, organizing them, and provoking them to respond. For any president with such a track record to now offer fake lamentations over those who choose loyalty to their political tribes in a successive election is more than any rational mind can tolerate.
As is this haughty and self-righteous conclusion:
His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said.
Shame on you, America. You disappointed Barack Obama.
Imagine being so self-absorbed you conclude that the country just wasn’t ready for your own greatness. Imagine inverting the concept of public service to the point that rather than taking the George Washington approach and fretting over your own ability to live up to your country’s expectations, you express disappointment that your country did not live up to yours.
Rarely a day goes by that the agitated left doesn’t do something outlandish that causes commentators to remind them, “This is how you got Trump.” But truthfully, no one is more responsible for the emergence of Donald Trump than Barack Obama.
He bred Trump’s kind of politics; he engendered the divisiveness and fed off the kind of rancor that animated Trump’s rise. Trump is the anti-Obama. If American politics is indeed a pendulum, Trump is the only fitting and logical kickback to what Obama wrought. So Mr. Obama, if anyone should not "struggle to understand Donald J. Trump's victory," it's you - the guy who made it all possible.