Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Trump had to know that the claim that former President Obama screwed up in not untying the CDC’s hands on COVID-19 testing would be swiftly debunked. It was. Countless experts quickly set the record straight that there was no hamstring of regulations or delays or bungles on the part of the Obama administration that prevented the CDC from COVID-19 testing. The experts just as swiftly pointed out that Trump had nearly four years to align the CDC’s testing with the World Health Organization and other agencies that quickly and accurately test. He did nothing. His lame excuse was that he had “a million other things” that he had to deal with.
Blaming Obama for COVID-19 is one of them. There’s no surprise there. Trump’s Obama-COVID-19 bash isn’t really about any sudden great concern on his part to protect the health and safety of thousands from Obama’s alleged CDC ineptitude. It is about Obama—Again.
Since he’s taken office, Trump must have set some kind of record for the number of tweets by a sitting president attacking a former president for alleged malfeasance in office. The Trump hit on him for the alleged CDC failure was just a continuation of his relentless mission to wipe the slate clean of any vestige of Obama’s footprint on the political scene. Trump being Trump, there’s also a mean, and nasty personal edge to it as well. Trump reminded all that Obama was very much in his sights at a GOP candidates forum in early 2015 when he shouted, “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 has worked wonders for Trump. There has always been a large swatch of voters, rightist bloggers, and websites that have always been more than ready to believe the worst of the worst about Obama, no matter how outrageous and mendacious. The COVID-19 crisis is no different. Trump also well knows that no matter how lying and fantastic his swipes at Obama are on this issue or that, it’s news. It will be picked up and headlined by the press. For many readers and viewers who never get much past the headlines it’s enough to plant a seed that maybe, there was something amiss in Obama’s handling of the CDC’s testing procedures.
It’s a well-worn ploy. Let’s take his ridiculous claim, for instance, that Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 presidential 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. And in the process throw shade on Obama’s handling of policy issues.
Trump’s bigger end game with Obama as foil is 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.
Trump’s obsessive attacks on Obama have another aim beyond mere personal vindictiveness and deflecting attention from his bumbling, silly, and downright capricious handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The aim is to destroy Obama’s legacy. This sends the strong signal to his base that he will try and demolish everything that they loathed about Obama; not just his policies, but what he personally stood for.
Trump at points during his campaign made no effort to correct or reprimand anyone at his townhalls and rallies who got up and vilified Obama in personal terms. This reinforced the point that Trump would make again and again that Obama was not fit from a political or personal standpoint to occupy the White House.
The COVID-19 pandemic was just too juicy a crisis for Trump to pass up when it came to Obama. With all eyes on the CDC and its alleged testing laxity and faults, Obama was a ready-made target, since he was the president when the agency’s regulations and procedures on testing were being reconfigured. The even more predictable thing is it won’t be the last time we’ll hear from Trump about Obama when there’s blame for Trump’s ineptitude to be made.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of What’s Right and Wrong With the Electoral College: (Middle Passage Press) He is an associate editor of New America Media. 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