Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Trump was at it again. The again is his endless hector of former President Obama. In a disjointed, rambling confrontation with the press, sometimes called a press conference, before his empty-handed departure from the G7 Summit, Trump mentioned Obama a half dozen times.
As usual he mentioned him to belittle and insult. To hear Trump tell it, he was dumb, dumb, dumb. What or rather who made him so dumb? Russian President Putin for supposedly outsmarting him over his grab of the Crimea in 2014; a grab that Obama supposedly was so dumb he couldn’t do anything about. There was no explanation or even attempt at explaining just how a naked snatch of a part of the Ukraine after massive military bullying and intimidation by Russia was such brilliance on Putin’s part, and stupidity on Obama’s. But that small point didn’t really matter. It was yet another sneaky chance by Trump to hammer “cheatin’ Obama,” another one of the past choice epithets he’s tagged Obama with.
Obama has been the one consistent Trump obsession before, during and long after his run for and capture of the Oval Office. At one point, in what’s got to be some kind of a record—there were 80 plus tweets—by Trump as President savaging a former president for alleged malfeasance in office. The tweets, the name calling, and the character assassination of Obama is in part Trump’s hunger to wipe the slate clean of any vestige of Obama’s footprint on the White House. The other part is to use Obama as a perfect prop to continue to rally and fire up his base. At a GOP candidates forum in early 2015, Trump took dead aim at Obama.
He dredged up his old canard about Obama’s birth and patriotism, “I don’t know if he loves America.” The slur of Obama was the latest in his by then three-year campaign to vilify, impugn, slander, and harass Obama as not only not an American citizen, but as an illegitimate President. The campaign of lies against Obama worked wonders for Trump. When he kicked it off in his truncated run for President in 2012 hammering Obama as virtually an undocumented alien in the White House made him a household name and bestowed a tad of political credibility on him in circles that viewed Obama as Enemy Number One politically.
So, when things got dull or there was a momentary rough patch on the campaign trial, Trump had Obama as his ready-made whipping boy. Trump’s bagging the Oval Office changed nothing. He started in with the beyond ridiculous claim that Obama wiretapped him during the campaign, and the demand that Congress investigate him. Trump almost certainly had to know that this would be much too much for even his GOP friendly Congress to swallow.
They didn’t. That didn’t really matter. It was just another excuse to keep the Obama vilification campaign going. This is part of Trump’s bigger end game with Obama as foil. That’s to wipe from the record every trace of Obama’s executive and legislative initiatives. He made it clear the instant he got in the White House he’d sign any and every executive order he could to try and halt, gut, or obliterate every Obama reform put in place by executive fiat.
Trump set the template early in his political game about how to go after Obama. That was to pithily toss out a sensational, outrageous accusation against or about Obama without a shred of evidence to back it up and then sit back and watch the media plaster it out as a headline or top headline news feature. The damage was done and the mission of getting tongues wagging about Obama and legions believing there must be some truth to it was accomplished.
When Trump ripped Obama for allegedly doing nothing about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, it had a ring of apparent truth to it. Obama was president when Russia interfered, and he did make public reference to the suspicion that Russia was engaged in political dirty dealing. However, the lie was that Obama did nothing. He ordered an investigation. He proposed and imposed sanctions on Russia. He demanded that Congress take even tougher action to prevent any recurrence on the tampering. Trump omitted all of this and double-downed by again calling on Congress to investigate Obama. It didn’t happen. But that was less important than keeping the hate Obama campaign going.
That campaign was carefully calibrated by Trump to tap into the deep well-spring of loathing that legions had for everything about Obama and his policies. Stir their juices up, easy, just wave the name and image of Obama around, and we’re off to the races. Rather it’s “Dumb” “cheatin’,” or “Birther” Obama, expect more, much more mean, nasty, but cunningly crafted name calling of Obama from Trump in his run to stay in the White House.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Who Can Beat Trump?: America’s Choice 2020https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KVM86C6 He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.