Saturday, January 07, 2017

Why Trump Will Not Be Able to Erase Obama's Legacy

From the moment Barack Obama became president Donald Trump tried to delegitimize and humiliate him.

Claiming he wasn't an American citizen, and had faked his birth certificate, and doing all he could to degrade his country's first black president.

And in thirteen days, on his first day in office, Trump is vowing to repeal every single executive order Obama ever issued, and begin the process of destroying or erasing his legacy.

But as the New York Times' Timothy Egan writes, good luck with that one.

For while Obama has been forced to try to defend his legacy in the dying days of his presidency, from those who would erase it. Or make it look as if he never existed. 

For a soon-to-be nowhere man, he’s everywhere. Sensing “time’s winged chariot hurrying near,” as the poet had it, President Obama is using every hour left in his presidency to ensure that Donald Trump will not erase it all

The intent of Republicans, poised to push through the most far-reaching conservative agenda in nearly a hundred years, is to act as if Obama never existed — the George Bailey of presidents. It won’t take long for Bedford Falls to become Pottersville. 

His legacy will stand the test of time. For while he was not perfect, he was a great President.

He was on the right side of history, and there is no comparing him and Trump.

In advance of his farewell address next week, the president has tried to Trump-proof a climate pact that commits the world’s second leading producer of earth-warming pollutants — the United States — to making this little orb of ours a less perilous place for Sasha’s and Malia’s and Ivanka’s kids. Trump has promised to go rogue on the planet, as quickly as he can.

Obama was a giant on the world state, a leader who tried to be the president of ALL Americans...

A man who never lost his temper or his dignity no matter what disgusting things the Republicans said about him.

And was among other things, the coolest president EVER.

While Trump is just a vulgar little man, a divider and a bigot who says crazy things on Twitter...

And who is so determined to erase Obama's legacy, he would hurt even his own supporters.

The people who stand to lose most are Trump supporters. The Affordable Care Act has saved countless lives in red states, and slowed medical costs. So why toss it, without a plan to replace it? To spite the guy on the way out.

And who will never, in the hopefully short time he has in office, be able to match the class and the humanity of the man he is replacing...

Nor for that matter will Trump's trophy wife Melania ever be able to match the class of Obama's wife Michelle.

Who used her last official speech as First Lady yesterday to offer a message of hope to young people...

You know, in an age of political depravity, class and decency matter.

And its important to celebrate what distinguishes us from Trump and his Trumpanzees. 

Thank you Barack and Michelle Obama. Your legacy will endure.

The resistance will make sure of that.

And this Canadian misses you already...


  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Goodbye Barry Soetoro! Thanks for bringing race relations back to the 60s. Oh, and all those drone strikes.


    1. hi MC...Obama was not responsible for worsening race relations in the U.S. He was attacked by your side from the day he took office, and mainly because he was black. As for the drones, I admit that might have got out of hand. But on the other hand if he had held back your side would have accused him of being weak. And although too many civilians have been killed or hurt, he did get rid of a lot of real bad guys, including of course Osama Bin Laden. For which we should all be grateful...

  2. Anonymous10:21 AM

    What really gets me are people on the left who are apologists for Putin and Dump. Have you read Glenn Greenwald these days? He's pathetic. True colours are being revealed, especially from (alleged) rapist Julian Assange. People are so blind in their hatred of America that they will damn us to hideous totalitarianism. Sure, Obama had his big flaws and he didn't fix the whole entire world in eight years, but his economic legacy may be the greatest of all the Presidents.
    I fear this dissident woke left dude bro apologia will make it's way to Canada soon. After all, Justin Trudeau is ideologically impure by the standards of these delusional people. They will split the vote and we will start losing are safety net. They did the same thing in 2006 and we lost national child care within days of Harper winning. "Trudeau=Harper" is the mantra of the incredibly privileged who do not have to deal with the aftermath of hideous con governments.

    1. hi anon...I feel exactly the way you do, and I have no idea why Glen Greenwald is writing such nonsense these days. It's fine to criticize Clinton or Obama, but trying to defend Trump and Putin really is appalling. And as you point out, Obama's economic legacy is a good one, and even that those ghastly right-wingers would deny him. But hopefully that contagion won't spread to Canada. And the left should unite rather than fight itself, to make sure the nightmare in America never happens here....

  3. Anonymous12:48 PM

    thank you simon very well written

    1. hi anon...thank you. I feel very sorry that Obama's years in office are ending this way, and I wanted to go on the record and say that I thought that he was a very good pleasure. And that although I don't agree with all his positions, he was fundamentally decent, and both dignified and classy...

  4. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Their legacy will endure indeed Simon. The idiots who discredit and blame Obama for all its troubles are too narrow minded to appreciate the good he has done in spite of the huge obstacles thrown his way.
    History will be kind to him.

    1. hi JD...I think you're right. I think history will be kind to him. He will be accused of not seeing Donald Trump coming, but then who did? And as you say, he did a lot of good despite all the obstacles the Republicans threw in his way. For the way he was attacked had to be one of the most disgusting political spectacles I have ever seen...

  5. I like optimism Simon, but I do not share it here. Given that we are about to see one party rule over all three branches of the US federal government, given that said one party is currently run by lunatics on both the Executive and Legislative branches come Jan 20 (and the Judicial is not much better and I fear we are about to get someone that makes Scalia look responsible and sane coming onto that bench this year), and those two will in turn appoint like minded folks to take over the USSC, I think there is real reason to be skeptical about Obama's legacy actually lasting.

    As well, a part of his legacy was the enabling of the rise of Trump, fairly or not, because it was on his watch and against his agenda and policies that Trump first arose with birtherism and then as PEOTUS. HRC campaigned as much on being his third term as on her own and Bernie's agenda (and let us not forget the thrilling role Bernie played in helping enable Trump's claim of the system being rigged and corrupt, how HRC was clearly a corrupt person because she gave paid public speeches while not in office, how the language he used near the end of his primary run was picked up by Trump and used to further attack HRC and alienate any support for her from Berners, etc)) and yet it wasn't enough.

    Obama's legacy also includes the near wipeout of the Dems at the State levels both executive and legislative, and the loss of Congress over his term too. I would also suggest that his failure to do unto Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 crash what happened to the Savings and Loans industry a quarter century earlier when their criminal behaviour was revealed in a similar if more limited fiscal crash also aided the rise of Trump.

    Do not get me wrong, overall I respect Obama and thought he was on balance a decent President, but he made a lot of major mistakes that helped create the mess we are currently about to have to live with, AND a lot of his legacy can be undone if the GOPers are willing to pay the price, and given how delusional they are about their own views about how reality and especially economics work, just look at Gov Brownback in Kansas as one shining example of this in action, I suspect they are more than willing, that is if they see it as a price at all.

    Nothing worse that true believers when it comes to such things Simon, and alas too many in the GOP these days have shown they are such true believers in some really disconnected from reality ways. I do believe that does mean a lot of Obama's legacy may not only be undone, but worse, used as the basis to do even more harm than just that by these folks.

    I am taking nothing for granted, nor anything on the positive side until after I have seen it happen with this business. The issues are too serious, the consequences too major, for me not to, and I am someone that always looks for the positives even in a massive excrement storm. So far I have yet to find a serious one as regards to the impending ascension of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (who has a very disturbing graphic to represent his office on his cards now, see link at bottom of comment) to total control over the elective bodies of power in Washington. Not something I find reassuring at all, nor my family since my tendency of always finding a bright side occasionally irritates them, and the fact I am not in this one actually freaks them out a bit.

    (link reference)

    1. hi Scotian...look you make a lot of good points, and I don't deny that I am hopelessly optimistic. I work hard on that. ;)
      But I value simple human decency so much, I will always have a special place in my heart for Obama. The Republican attacked him like beasts, but he never descended to their level.
      And as Obama likes to say, the great arc of history favours our side. Trump and his Trumpanzees may rule the roost today. But their excesses are only going to make it possible for a real movement for change to emerge from the shattered ruins. So while I fear the immediate future like so many others, I'm pretty confident that it still belongs to us. So cheer up my gloomy friend... ;)

    2. Simon, I grew up and to adulthood in the midst of the Cold War. I was the one person around who didn't believe we were all about to die, that we could come out the other side safe. I am by nature an optimist too. However, I am also a student of human nature and history, and we are moving into a period that could have repercussions far beyond anything we have seen not just in recent decades but recent centuries as well. While I agree with Obama about that grand arc, there have been some fairly major backslides in that arc too, and while we have managed to avoid them for the most part over the past half thousand years, they are a part of that too, and that is my fear at the moment.

      I agree Obama was a decent man and person and a good President overall. I just worry as much about people being too overly positive as I am the more typical too overly negative. Obama made some fairly serious political miscalculations as well as get things right, and much of his legacy is so hated by the right, and so easily turned into right wing talking points by now that it can be destroyed, if they are willing to pay the price of it. Given the levels of lunacy at the top levels of the GOP both elected and institutional these days, I am not willing to bet against stupidity and insanity competing to see which one can do the more damage to the Obama legacy.

      I'm used to living with uncertainty, indeed, it is literally how my worldview works, but I have never lived in a state of extended probability white-out until this past 2 month period. I simply have nothing to actually base on, the flux is too extreme, the parameters to open-ended, and the players too unstable. This does not fill me with confidence.

      I survived the Cold War and growing up in a known first strike target. If the Trumpocalypse turns out to be less than the end of all things I expect I'll survive this, but honestly Simon, there is a very real non zero possibility that the Presidency of Trump might being down the global order and set into motion ever increasing military chaos until things truly go to hell. A probability, no, a genuine possibility though given Trump's own nature? Sadly yes in my books, and I refuse to run away from that possibility, any more than I did what Harper could mean, what GWB could mean and so forth.

      The problem is though Trump really could be the ushering in of another dark age for the species, and that should not be dismissed. Until I see how well he governs over the first few weeks/months, I am going to be wary I think.

      Sorry to be such a debbie downer here Simon, but really, I am not in a happy place about any of this, not at all.

      P.S. Sorry about the delay, my sister has some serious health issues happening and I've been with her traveling the amazing hospital race. I only got home a little while ago.

  6. e.a.f.1:57 PM

    Lovely Post. Thank you. Obama did a great job. You can't change the world in 8 years, but he sure made a lot of good changes. Instilled enough confidence to ride out the banking disaster. He and Michelle Obama set an example of how life can be lived. How leaders can behave.

    Ms. Trump may be considered a trophy wife by some. I see her as some one who is making the best of what she has to improve her life. We are not to judge. When they married, the both got what they wanted. What Trump did was changed the "deal" they made. It is impressive she stuck to her guns and refused to take her child out of school mid term. She may never move to the White House and if she refuses to, good for her.

    When looking at what has happened in the U.S.A., is like Russia will take over the U.S.A. without ever firing a single bullet. Not bad. Real estate in tact, people who support the puppet leader, ready to be pillaged and plundered by the Russian thug oligarcy. You goota hand it to them, when you consider the goal, they achieved it. During the Cold War, never would have thought this is how it would happen.

    1. i e.a.f.... thanks, I'm glad you liked the post, because I really enjoyed writing it, and it was a labour of love. It's distressing to me to see how Obama has had to spend the last days of his presidency fighting to save his legacy from being destroyed. He did deserve better. As for the Russians I don't think they are in any position to take over the U.S. But who knows what bad things Trump and Putin could do together? For example, could Trump ask Putin to send some of his hit men after Trump's enemies? I don't think anyone can rule that out, so the situation is both disturbing and dangerous...

  7. Anonymous12:58 PM

    Yup, I'm gonna miss him too. His fatal flaw was approaching the Republicans in good faith too many times, but when good faith is his cardinal sin, it's tough to hold that against a politician when cynicism is standard operating procedure. Faced with an intransigent opposition from Day One, what he managed to accomplish during his tenure was nothing short of remarkable.