Poor Donald Trump. It’s understandable. Being the 45th President of the United States, following Barack Obama, really is tough. Even more so given that Obama had the ‘fortune’ of succeeding George W. Bush, the most unpopular president in American modern history.
The first black president’s star shone even brighter because of this, especially at the dawn of his era.
Poor Donald. He can’t even be another Bush, who, recently, is even being reassessed in view of the current president, a member of his own party. Yes, it’s true, George W. is the commander in-chief of the second Gulf War. He’s the son of the president of the first Gulf War. But today, he’s seen smiling and looking relaxed. Michelle Obama hugs him. He criticizes the disrespect shown by The Donald toward journalists, and his daughters remember how their father, just days after Sept. 11, went to a mosque, took off his shoes and gave a heartfelt and respectful speech about Islam and Muslims. Nothing like Trump, the Islamophobe. Yes, it’s true that he invaded Iraq a few days later, but that’s another story.
In a nutshell, Trump’s obsession for who came before him, and for Obama in particular, is worthy of understanding.
Even more so given that his predecessor is not just a ghost of the past. Barack is in the capital, only a few blocks from the White House. The Obama family has moved to a house in Kalorama, in the northern quarter of the capital, and the former president, with his very trusted adviser Valerie Jarrett, has already rented office space in the WWF building, just a couple of kilometers from his residence.
On Fox News, strong Trump supporter Meghan McCain described the office of the former president as the “resistance headquarters.” Trump’s obsession with Obama only fuels the very feeling at the heart of this obsession, that he feels like an illegal occupant of the White House. And that his inadequacy and inability to fulfill the role of president are even more evident in comparison to his predecessor. The predecessor who is now his political competition.
Exiting the scene at 55 years old, he’s certainly not going to spend the rest of his days playing golf or taking care of the Obama presidential library under development in Chicago; he’ll continue his involvement in politics. He’s already on the scene and will undoubtedly be a sort of shadow president. An obsession that is bound, then, to turn to paranoia. And this is not psychologism, as proven by the way he continues to blame the previous administration for every plot against him, and even for being the instigator of anti-Trump demonstrations that are multiplying in America. His resentment is highlighted by the infantile smugness of The Donald in response to recent favorable economic data that he takes credit for.
“Obamaphobia,” says Edward Luce of the Financial Times, goes back a long time, to the early days of Obama’s presidency, when Trump led and financed the movement that challenged the authenticity of Barack’s Honolulu birth certificate and maintained that he was born in Kenya. It’s a frankly disgraceful chapter of recent American history, a movement that should have been taken far more seriously by Obama himself, being as it was the main catalyst of a reactionary and racist wave that pushed Trump towards the presidency.
But there are also other political explanations, to avoid psycho-politics, which is worthy of respect. Focusing his offensive against Obama, Trump is trying to remove the only fearsome opponent he is now faced with. The Democratic Party is the minority in Congress and in many of the lawmaking and governing institutions in the United States. It’s in its worst state since the 1920s. Neither the old guard nor the new recruits have an obvious leader.
The Republican Party has the numbers to gerrymander districts in their favor for the House of Representatives. It can essentially create a permanent majority that will put Democrats in the corner for decades to come.
Only Obama can be – currently – the benchmark of that which McCain rightly defined as the resistance to this administration.
Committed to Hillary’s electoral campaign, Obama said that he did it in order to protect and continue his political legacy, making it clear that, with Trump, not only would his program be overturned but also the very sense of the Democratic effort – it transcended his persona and program – that gave way to his election and then re-election.
It’s clear that the former president will make every effort to ensure everything he has built, which underpinned and led to his double mandate, doesn’t end up in the gutter. We’ll see how he’ll do it, but before he finds a way to put his direct commitment into practice, an unprecedented enterprise for a former president, Trump is attempting to stop him. His is not an obsession. It’s a meditated and calculated political operation to get Obama out of his way.
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