ChrisWeigant.com

Obama Enters The Fray

[ Posted Monday, May 18th, 2020 – 17:19 UTC ]

Former President Barack Obama got up off the bench this weekend and fully entered the fray of the 2020 presidential election. He did so in prominent fashion, since he was given the rather large megaphone of a commencement address to graduating high school seniors that was simultaneously broadcast on every major television network. So this wasn't some tweet or offhanded comment leaked from a phone call (both of which had actually happened the previous week, with less attention paid). What it signals -- hopefully -- is that Obama is becoming fully vested in being the biggest surrogate possible for Joe Biden during the campaign.

Obama, quite rightly, sat out the entire primary season. Because of his outsized influence with Democratic voters, he decided to remain scrupulously neutral during the Democratic nomination contest. There were some grumbles from the Biden campaign, since they obviously knew that an early endorsement from Obama would have done Biden a lot of good with the voters. As it turned out, Biden didn't need this boost, though. Obama waited until Bernie Sanders -- the last candidate left in the race after more than two dozen others had dropped out -- officially threw in the towel to endorse Biden. Since then, the Biden campaign has been rather quiet, due to the new restrictions on how this year's campaign is going to have to happen.

This weekend, however, Obama jumped into the fight in a big way. This is a good sign for Democrats, for a number of reasons. First, it reminds everyone what an intelligent and rational president looks and sounds like. Remember when presidents spoke in grammatically-correct and logically-constructed sentences? Boy, those were the days! Remember when presidents were actually capable of showing empathy? We can return to those halcyon days if we want. This message will be reinforced each and every time Obama speaks for the next six months, no matter what he is actually talking about. Just for starters, it was Obama who was selected to speak to graduating seniors and not our current president, because it's pretty easy to see which one is the better role model for children and young adults.

Second, Obama pointing out the inadequacies and Keystone Kops nature of the Trump administration is guaranteed to make Republican partisans' heads explode. Already, the reaction from the rightwing news universe to Obama's weekend speeches is at apoplectic levels (Karl Rove just called it a "drive-by shooting," something he certainly knows a thing or two about). And that's before Obama starts criticizing Trump directly by actually naming Trump in his comments, mind you.

Third, Obama is one of the very few Democrats who seems to occupy a space in Trump's brain, rent-free. Trump is obsessed with Obama, but not in a positive way. This gives Obama a clear advantage, because you just know he'll be able to provoke a response from Trump at the drop of a tweet, throughout the entire campaign.

There aren't that many other Democrats who consistently provoke such visceral reactions from Trump. There are indeed plenty of public figures who aren't afraid to take potshots at Trump (Michael Moore springs to mind, as does Stephen King), but Trump rarely if ever rises to their bait. There are also Democrats Trump loves to attack on Twitter (Adam Schiff, for one), but for the most part this is unprovoked behavior on their part. There are really only a handful of people that truly get under Trump's skin in a big way. George Conway, wife of Trump's trusted advisor Kellyanne, is one of them, as is Joe Scarborough. Nancy Pelosi might also qualify, since she has all but mastered the ability to get under Trump's skin in the worst way possible. But above them all is Obama, since Trump knows full well his presidential legacy will be directly compared to his immediate predecessor's. Which is why Obama is in such a unique place at the start of the general election campaign.

To be fair, there is one other Democrat who might also fill this bill, but Hillary Clinton comes with baggage that Obama just doesn't, and this makes it far riskier for Joe Biden to use Clinton as a foil against Trump. It must be admitted that Clinton certainly also has the proven ability to provoke a childish reaction from Trump by pretty much anything she says about him. But because of her built-in negatives, I doubt she'll be deployed all that much (judiciously but sparingly, perhaps) by Team Biden in the upcoming contest.

Obama, however, really doesn't have anything stopping him from becoming the biggest thorn in Trump's side. Which he is fully able to do, without even expending much effort. And Trump has already signalled that he intends to focus his campaign at least partially on trying to trash Obama (he figures that since Biden was Obama's vice president, any tarnishing of Obama will also harm Biden). His non-existent "Obamagate" conspiracy theory is full proof of this. No one -- including Trump himself -- can even explain what "Obamagate" is supposed to mean, at this point. It's a free-floating scandalous label without any actual underlying scandal. This bizarre effort seems doomed to failure, obviously -- especially when Trump's own pet attorney general is already admitting "there's no there, there." The only possible outcome of Trump's delusion is to fire up his own base into a frenzy, but that was always pretty much going to be a given in this election anyway.

Barack Obama has many avenues open to him when pointing out the difference between his presidency and Donald Trump's. Each and every one of them is almost guaranteed to provoke a knee-jerk playground-insult-level reaction from Trump. Especially now that Trump doesn't even have a good economy to run on anymore.

Donald Trump is about to outdo himself by launching the most negative presidential campaign in modern history. I say "outdo himself" because he already set this standard in 2016. Trump's takeaway from that contest was, of course, "it worked." This is an undeniable fact. However, the dynamics of the 2020 race are far different, so the outcome is completely up in the air. Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, for starters. And we're all in a very different place now than we were four years ago. Heck, we're all in a very different place than we were four months ago.

Personally, I look forward to seeing Obama engage Trump. I also look forward to Trump flying off the handle in response. Trump has rewritten the rules for what is acceptable in politics, so this will really be a no-holds-barred type of contest between the two. It's pretty downright risible to see any Trump defender trying to take the moral "have you no sense of decency" highroad at this point, because Trump has so lowered that bar that doing so has become pretty much impossible for Republicans to even attempt.

So I for one welcome Obama's entry into the 2020 presidential race. Welcome back, Barack! A lot has happened while he's been on the sidelines, and it'll be up to Obama to remind us all what things were like in the pre-Trump era. He'll do so with biting humor, with facts and figures, and with disdain for any conspiracy theories from the other side. More than anyone else, Barack Obama will be the one pointing out that the emperor's clothes are, in fact, invisible. Much to the emperor's consternation, of course.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

23 Comments on “Obama Enters The Fray”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Will the Clintons ever go away?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, on the bright side, Attorney General Barr says he's not really looking at investigating criminal behavior by Obama or Biden but he is looking at others.

    I'm guessing Trump will let Barr get away with this one. Whatever.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    His non-existent "Obamagate" conspiracy theory is full proof of this. No one -- including Trump himself -- can even explain what "Obamagate" is supposed to mean, at this point. It's a free-floating scandalous label without any actual underlying scandal. This bizarre effort seems doomed to failure, obviously -- especially when Trump's own pet attorney general is already admitting "there's no there, there."

    What!?

    Of course, everyone should know that the criminal behavior Trump is talking about is the "unwarranted" investigation by the Obama administration into Russian meddling in the US presidential election and into whether Trump et al. were involved. You know, the whole Mueller report thing.

    And, Barr thinks that there is quite a lot of there, there.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, for starters.

    Now, that right there is the understatement of the millennium.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Personally, I look forward to seeing Obama engage Trump. I also look forward to Trump flying off the handle in response.

    Me, too!

    Assuming, of course, his regular dose of hydroxychloroquine and zinc doesn't give him a heart attack.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heck, we're all in a very different place than we were four months ago.

    Speaking of which, how are the efforts going to get nationwide mail-in ballots in time for The election?

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What the hell have you got to lose!? Ask me! Ask me! Can I answer that … Mr. President?

    Yeah, he's still here ...

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What have you got to lose. Try it … if you like.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Maybe Trump is looking for a way out.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Is there anyone alive out there!?"

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yes, I'm alive, sorta. And my friends would agree that I'm "out there."

    What's it to ya? ???????????

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    More specifically, Betsy, please explain how Joe is not just another so-called moderate Democrat. I'm a Bernie Bro, so help me to understand how Joe is materially better than Hillary in '16.

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I mean it's not like I'd not vote Joe, but...

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    How can I get enthusiastic about Joe besides the fact that he is not-Trump?

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hillary is condescending and mean-spirited. Biden is the opposite.

  16. [16] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Biden is not Trump or Hillary is not a very convincing argument.

    Biden is Trump or Hillary when it comes to working for the big money interests.

    Until Biden becomes the opposite of that he will not get my vote.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Obama reminding people what things were like in the pre-Trump era would be the pot calling the kettle black.

    Though Obama may use humor, facts and figures and disdain for conspiracy theories from the "other" side the facts and figures will be distortions that ignore the Dems working for the big money interests for the last few decades and will ignore the fact that the alleged "other" side is merely the other side of the same big money controlled coin.

    We are NOT all in a different place from four years or four months ago.

    If we were you would have learned from previous mistakes and would not be writing articles like this using the same bullPOOP from four months, four years and four decades ago of the good cop/bad cop deception perpetrated by the CMPs that has destroyed our democracy and left us vulnerable to the pandemic.

    It's time for you, CW, to switch to the REAL other side and stop promoting the decpetion.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.
    Get Real.

  18. [18] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Chris didn't specifically mention it, but it (the feud with Obama) is personal with Trump. I think it goes back to the white house correspondents' dinner, where Obama publicly ridiculed the orange moron, for which the childishly petulant Trump will never forgive him.

    I hope Obama leverages this advantage to the hilt, which has the potential to drive Trump right over the edge, which already at this point would constitute a very short trip.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Barack Obama has many avenues open to him when pointing out the difference between his presidency and Donald Trump's. Each and every one of them is almost guaranteed to provoke a knee-jerk playground-insult-level reaction from Trump.

    Yes, sir, Donald is like a festering wound when it comes to his predecessor, and all Obama need do is to barely scratch the surface of the Trump sore to release the ever-lingering stench beneath... without ever even uttering his name.

    In point of fact, Barack Obama is such a permanent fixture in the rent-free heads of Donald and so many of the bigoted and hateful Trumpanzees that all anyone need do is grind the bellows of the street organ and watch the trained monkeys dance on cue. :)

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    16

    Biden is Trump or Hillary when it comes to working for the big money interests.

    I definitely agree with Russ on this issue when I say that Don Harris is obviously working for the big money interests when he ignores his own website and chooses to expend his exertions trolling here while achieving absolutely nothing to show for it. Don Harris's abject failure is obviously the reason the big money interests are alive and thriving. Harris dithers and wastes his time here while the big money interests grow ever larger by the day.

    Until Biden becomes the opposite of that he will not get my vote.

    It's both asinine and laughable that you seem to believe that politicians are concerned about people who pledge not to vote for them. If you could convince everyone else in Texas not to vote, it would be me getting the attention of every single candidate because I'd be the one choosing all the winners.

    So to recap: Our representatives are chosen by the people who vote. If you truly wish to move a candidate in your direction, then being a person who continually pledges not to vote is exactly the opposite way to achieve it. The foundation of democracy is participation by the citizens, and if you're too thick to grasp that fact, then you are a true asset of the big money interests who will continue to piss in the wind while constantly moaning that you're being pissed on.

  21. [21] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki
    18

    I hope Obama leverages this advantage to the hilt, which has the potential to drive Trump right over the edge, which already at this point would constitute a very short trip.

    Heh.

  22. [22] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    All of you Weigantians that were so heavily invested in the Trump-Russia collusion delusion three yrs ago should make the effort to get the current "Rising" episode of the Krystal Ball/Saagard Enjetti (not sure of the spelling) show on Youtube. Those guys are of your political persuasion, but they point out how crazy you all were on that subject. Same thing currently coming from another one of your guys name of Glen Greenwald.

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki
    22

    Shows how little you know about Russia's interference in the 2016 election and continued interference at the present time. Unless you're quite content to continue peddling the bullshit of the anti-interventionist left-wing deniers, you should educate yourself about Glenn Greenwald and his Comrade Edward Snowden (living in Russia) who are so averse to future military intervention that they refuse to acknowledge that the United States democracy and our rule of law are under attack by a candidate backed by and compromised by Russia.

    So to recap: No matter how anti-interventionist Greenwald and his left-wing ilk are, if they close their eyes to our attacker, we are most definitely still visible and no less under attack. Denying you're under attack in an effort to "keep the peace" is an errand of fools and damn fools. Full stop.

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