Barack Obama on the Rise of Trump

Barack ObamaIn remarks as sharply critical as he’s ever been about the state of the 2016 GOP presidential race, Obama called the GOP presidential debate a combination of “fantasy, and school yard taunts, and sellin’ stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network.”

Obama called Trump “a distillation of what has been going on in their party for more than a decade,” saying comparing establishment Republicans to Captain Louis Renault from the movie Casablanca.

“We’re shocked someone is fanning anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiment!” he said. “We’re shocked! We’re shocked that someone could be loose with the facts. Or distort someone’s record. Shocked!

“How could you be shocked? This was the guy who was sure I was born in Kenya. And wasn’t letting go,” he said. “As long as it was being directed at me they were fine with it. It was a hoot — and suddenly they’re shocked! That gambling’s going on in this establishment,” he said.

Obama said the GOP message during his presidency is to “deny the evidence of science” or to accuse the other side of treason.

“Look it up, that’s what they’ve been saying. So they can’t be surprised when somebody says, ‘I can make up stuff better than that,'” he said.

—Gregory Korte
“They’re Shocked!” Obama Mocks GOP Establishment for Handling of Trump

49 thoughts on “Barack Obama on the Rise of Trump

    • I’ve been thinking how much Trump is like Palin. The difference is that Trump has learned to make simple declarative statements. Neither of them actually say anything, but Trump comes off as though he at least knows what a sentence is. Palin talking is like Lucky’s speech:

      • I saw on Twitter someone actually went and reviewed Palin’s speeches and interviews. They said it turns out that she knows a bit about a few things that are very Alaska centric while Drumpf apparently knows nothing.

        It is going to be interesting when Drumpf, who knows nothing and revels in it, has to campaign against one of the most knowledgeable policy wonks to ever run for president. He is going to have to show he knows something, ANYTHING, and I don’t think he will be able to.

        • Of course, we have the same media that made fun of Gore whenever he pointed out that Bush didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. But that’s one place where being a woman will help. I don’t think the media will find it so easy to disregard her because of concerns about being condescending. But I think Trump knows stuff. I just think he is really, really disciplined. He knows enough to know that he doesn’t know enough to actually go off message.

          • He is really good at making such long complicated word salads that it is hard to keep track of what he is saying. Of course the media in this time is horrified at the monster they created so she may benefit from…*reads Salon* never mind.

            • Come now! Salon is a liberal website. I don’t get to read it as I used to. But did you see Krugman’s column today (which gets far more readers)? It was a discussion of how Trump happened. (He is wrong, but it at least made sense.) But then, at the end, he had to spend two paragraphs attacking Sanders (or more accurately: Sanders supporters on Twitter). Just from a writing standpoint, the two paragraphs made no sense. When Mark Thoma published his edited version, he completely left out those paragraphs. I think there is a tendency to see minor players wrongly attacking Clinton as equivalent to major players wrongly attacking Sanders.

              My position puts me in a strange place apparently. There are two people I support for president: Sanders and Clinton — in that order. And after Clinton wins the nomination, I fully expect Sanders to be a very strong supporter of Clinton.

              • Their headline piece this weekend was a Thomas Frank book excerpt on how horrible a president Bill Clinton was. It may be a liberal website but when it spends most of its time attacking Hillary Clinton as if she is the worst thing that has happened to the Democratic Party ever.

                It isn’t like your supporting Sanders over Clinton because you like his policies more. It is she must be the evilest woman ever to have walked the earth since she is running against Sanders. It is really annoying.

                And then they post something like ten to fifteen articles a day on Trump giving him undue attention while they smear her.

                • Well, The Washington Post has been in full Slander Sanders mode for weeks. I understand your annoyance. I would like much more evenhanded coverage of both.

                  But I’ve been waiting for that Thomas Frank book. He disappeared a year ago saying he was going to write a book and I haven’t heard a peep since. But there were a lot of bad things about the Bill Clinton administration. And the biggest good thing (the strong economy) was not his doing. So I’m curious as to what he has to say.

                  • I don’t remember much about the 1990s politically. I do remember that it was always easy for my mom and I to get employment. She may have been unable to get well paying jobs because of her lack of education but if she was fired or something she always was able to find a new job within a few weeks.

                    A lot of people are looking at the Clinton years with 20/20 hindsight and saying that he was terrible because now we have the space for someone of Sanders ideological stripe to run and garner enough votes to be taken seriously. Now we can get something like the ACA passed and maybe even improved on. And finally now we can have a black guy possibly followed by a woman.

                    I was looking at the Senate and House break downs of the 1980s and it was pretty clear that liberalism the way it was once practiced was on its way out. So this idea that Clinton was wrong for operating the way he did in the climate he had is ignoring the context of the times he operated in. He didn’t get a whole lot of liberal legislation passed because when he did manage to get something like an increase in taxes, it led to the massive losses of 1994. He had to fight tooth and nail to get something like the minimum wage increase of 1997. And yes, he had to take a lot of the ugly to avoid the worst-including the repeal of ADFC.

                    No, he shouldn’t get as much credit as he does for the economy of the 1990s but he did a lot of behind the scenes stuff that Thomas Frank apparently doesn’t want to give him credit for.

                    • Well, T. Frank has a specific point he wants to make — that Democrats created the Kansas syndrome by abandoning liberalism. There’s truth in this; it’s also more complicated (Frank writes little about race and the Southern strategy, for example.) He’s a gifted writer, though. His takedown of “Atlas Shrugged” at the end of “Pity The Billionaire” is insanely good.

                    • I’ve read that, but I don’t remember. I’ll have to pick it up again. But can you remind me what he said?

                    • I read the Frank article. I don’t know why you are upset about it. It’s about Bill, not Hillary. And it is material that he’s covered before. Yes, it is one-sided, but it doesn’t claim to be anything else. And Salon didn’t put it on the front page because it was bashing Clinton; they put it on the front page because it was the first thing from Thomas Frank in a year and he is hugely popular among exactly the kind of people who read Slate. (You will notice on FC, the only sidebar link to Slate is to the Thomas Frank author page.)

                      But I don’t think that Clinton should get any credit for the economy. The economy was great because of Greenspan. If he hadn’t been been so unorthodox, there would have been no boom and no balanced budget. The main point that Frank is making — and has been making for the last 5 years — is that liberals have allowed the New Democrats to lower their expectations. And I have argued for almost as long that this has led the Republican Party to go crazy because they have so little ideological room.

                    • “Shrugged” has a train accident and Rand goes into detail describing all the pathetic mooches on the train who deserve death. All Frank does is quote her at length and provide non-sociopathic commentary. It’s quite effective.

                    • I don’t remember that at all. But I’ve gotten to the point where sometimes I’ll be 3/4th into a book before I realize I’ve read it before. I’m getting old.

                    • I know it was bashing Bill Clinton. It was bashing him for what seems to be no reason.

                      But YMMV.

                    • My mileage does vary! And are we at the point where liberals are not allowed to make a case against people who would be conservatives in any other advanced country? Did you see the title of the book?

                    • During an election year when the wife of said President is trying to beat back someone like Drumpf? And while ignoring the climate in which the person was operating in? Along with the history of the reason why the climate was that way?

                      So yes, I do disagree with publishing a book at this moment in time that complains that Bill Clinton wasn’t liberal when the situation around him wasn’t welcoming for liberals. Congress didn’t flip because Bill Clinton managed to get a small tax increase-it flipped because the country was moving away from liberal ideas at the congressional district level. Which is why we have so many Blue Dog Democrats still to this day.

                      But I know he is doing it for the money and the circular firing squad we Dems seem to revel in. *sigh*

                    • I don’t think the book is about Clinton. I think it is about the movement that he is part of.

                      But I don’t buy this stuff about the country moving right. As I have discussed again and again, all you have to do is look at the economics and you have your political outcomes. It wasn’t that people were turning conservative. It was that, for example, Reagan ran at the right time economically. And it is the same thing today, as I talk about all the time: if the economy stays strong, Clinton wins; if it tanks, well, she still might win if Trump is the candidate. But the only chance the Republicans have is if the economy tanks. As the Clinton campaign said in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

                    • The issue is the congressional and legislative level (and the states that have the legislature drawing the maps) keep trending rightward. National polls are not indicative of what is going on at that level.

                      As I hinted at, gerrymandering has something to do with it (which is why the Texas Dems once ran away from Texas to avoid a redistricting scheme by the Republicans) but it is not the only thing. Either the Democrats are not doing good recruiting (plausible with people like Rahm Emmanuel in charge of the DCCC) or our message is not working. :/

                    • I think it’s safe to say that while the country as a whole isn’t drifting rightward, the GOP surely is. And many people who have very little idea what the GOP’s economic policies are agree with the extreme right because of “social issues” — mostly, that the GOP has done a good job branding itself as the party of faith, farm, and country music.

                      I read the article and it’s stuff Thomas Frank has been talking about for a long time. He particularly despises faux-progressive “new economy” businesses. The Clintons did cozy up to companies like that, which to Frank is the ultimate betrayal.

                      He’s not writing what he writes for money. He was hired by the WSJ and kept writing the exact same stuff, so the WSJ canned him. The guy who was a real self-pimper in that way was Chris Hitchens, who had it out for the Clintons because they weren’t liberal enough, then promptly became a Bush supporter. Basically, to keep himself talked about.

                      Frank wants the party to move left. You think Clinton will do that. He doesn’t. It’s a disagreement, of the sort that makes our side intellectually tougher than the other side. We don’t follow marching orders about “talking points, and that’s our strength.

                  • Sorry about the long post but it annoyed the snot out of me after reading all of their other Hillary Clinton bashing articles.

                    • You mean that last one? Have you seen how long some comments get around here?!

                    • And Elizabeth’s have logical sentences and paragraph breaks. Mine usually do . . . but not always.

                      I won’t touch most of “Salon” with a 100-foot pole but I’m happy Frank has a home there for now. He might be a better fit at “The Nation” but I’m sure he likes thinking someone might read his articles.

    • That’s a good site; thanks for the link.

      I’d never watched a Trump rally before. He really enjoys himself up there, he’s having a blast. It’ll be hard for Clinton to beat him.

      • I don’t see how it will be so easy for him to beat her. She is pretty good at getting blowhards to act like a smeghead towards her when it counts. If they do a debate where they get to wander around the stage, she is going to get him to get angry and loom over her in a threatening manner. Which will make him look more like a bully and not a President.

        Clinton is at her best when she is hitting back at against empty suited Republicans. She is at her worst when she is trying to walk that insanely narrow line of hitting at a Democratic opponent who she agrees with 93% of the time while not alienating the other 7%.

        • Unfortunately I think most right-wing voters prefer a bully to a president. But thanks so much for the word “smeghead.” That’s a terrific word.

          • Of course they do. But there are a lot of Republican women who will see what he does to her and go “nope. Not this time.”

            Remember when she went before the Benghazi committee and showed everyone how patient, tough and Presidential she is? That is what you are going to get against someone like Drumpf.

            Why you keep thinking she is incompetent at beating Republicans I truly do not understand. She likes campaigning against the people who have spent 25 years saying the absolute worst they could about her, her husband, her child, her grandchild and half the people in her life. When she said they are her enemy she was stating nothing but the truth and she is ready to beat the pants off of Drumpf. Or Cruz. Or any of the Republicans.

            • It’s not all Republicans I worry about — they try to seem professional, and clearly Clinton can outshine them on that. It’s Trump, He’s deliberately playing a loudmouth bozo, so her making him seem like one could be ineffective.

              But also keep in mind that I’m a sports fan. And any halfhearted sports fan expects doom to happen at any time. I was sure Americans would never elect an African-American president, and I was sure Mitt Romney’s campaign’s late switch from talking in code to outright incessant lying would win it for him. So my fears about presidential elections are not a worthwhile predictor of their outcomes. (Although my fears about midterm elections usually come true.)

              • Don’t underestimate Hillary Clinton. She has been the most maligned woman in the US for decades and yet she shows she can get the job done.

                She knows how to handle Trump.

        • I haven’t been following this thread, but I think people underestimate Clinton in the general. I think she will be great as a candidate. My preference for Sanders is entirely ideological.

          • My only preferences are ideological.

            I’m not much interested in personal attacks on C or anyone else, except maybe for Dumper who makes himself his ideology.

            I don’t detect the vituperation Ms. E claims to see in the criticism of C from the left. As in, not at all. Not from the OP’s anyway. From the commentators, sometimes.

            Still not seeing a positive case for Clinton. “She gets things done”; exactly what the Trump supporters say.

            • The problems I have with people claiming Clinton is the second coming of Satan isn’t on this blog. Frank keeps us in line. It is on Twitter, Salon, rawstory, LGM, places like that where it seems “how best can we pile onto Clinton today for her not being literally everything to all people?”

              Media Matters also has had some really good reviews of the bizarre coverage she keeps getting-like how she is asked “how come you are losing” when she she has a 220+ delegate lead and a string of rather lopsided victories.

              • That’s interesting, because someone around here was saying LGM was in the can for Clinton. I think the fact is that when our candidate gets slammed, it stings more and we remember it. And I really like Media Matters, but they are totally in the can for Clinton. That doesn’t make their work wrong. I just don’t think any of the coverage is all that bad. The worst thing is to see people using old Republican attacks against Clinton. But I don’t see this in print — its more the idiots on Twitter.

                Just the same, I can hardly complain when partisans get upset, since I have written a number of articles where I’ve done the same thing. On the other hand, I’ve written a number of articles defending Clinton. My new, very clear statement: I support Sanders and Clinton for president, in that order. I wish all liberals would make a same statement.

                • The sexism came out again yesterday with a bunch of male pundits complaining she was shouting and Scarborough demanding she smile. It was like “let us see how many sexist canards can we do tonight against her?”

                  Oh well, she is up by 314 delegates so now on to the general and trashing Trump as much as we can.

                  • I have an article on what Sanders supporters should do coming out tomorrow. Of course, I called this race a month and a half ago.

                    I do, however, think you are on a mailing list where you get alerted to every Clinton outrage. Might I suggest a good Terry Pratchett novel?

                    • No, I just go on to the websites that I already mentioned I frequent and it is a sea of “We Hate Hillary and her big Dawg too.” The only thing is the articles rarely seem to mention Sanders and when they do, it is a clear afterthought.

                      But in Salon’s case it is clearly about revenue since those articles rack up huge comment totals. Granted the HA Goodman articles are very funny at this point.

                    • Personally, and maybe this is just because I’m so old, I try to avoid things that annoy me. I’m bad at it, but I do try!

            • To be honest, I don’t see it either. But I don’t look. I think part of the problem is that Elizabeth is very well connected and so gets sent every outrage that is committed against Clinton. There are similarly positions people regarding Sanders. But I did find it interesting (Again!) that when Krugman insisted upon throwing 2 anti-Sanders paragraphs in a column about Trump, his main complaint was about the Sanders twitter feed versus the Clinton twitter feed. That’s just pathetic. We need to be clear about what slanders matter and what slanders don’t. I personally think what The Washington Post has been doing to Sanders is far more serious than Thomas Frank talking about New Democrats as he had for the last decade. But I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t say for sure.

              • Well, and note Sanders labeled that online behavior crap, saying he doesn’t want or need such people. Versus Trump, who coyly winks when he says he disapproves of violence by his supporters.

                This year has one of the tightest nomination battles on both sides I can remember in my lifetime. The late-starting Sanders movement got Clinton to work harder for her victory, and the GOP’s late realization that Trump could win prevented them from uniting around a consensus alternative until just now, when it may be too late.

                Naturally tight races bring out strong emotions.

                • But even six months ago, the big problem was that was no consensus candidate. The truth is that in the Republican Party, the difference between an extremist and a moderate is a question of tone. So all they are really looking for is someone they think will play in the general election. Because all the candidates are the same.

  1. Indeed, the GOP leadership is living in denial. After all, it created this monster. First, by opening the floodgates to special interest with Citizens United and then riding the wave of anger that arose with the Tea Potty movement. Like Frankenstein, however, it was not long before the Koch’s, Adelson and the GOP leadership lost control of the monster it created. And it is really no wonder Trump’s supporters are so angry. The GOP has been LYING to them for years, appealing to their bigotry in order to gain votes for their 1% platform. Still, the party leadership either fails to see it or it refuses to see it; I don’t know which. Enter Trump and the 21st Century Nazis. The GOP leadership are even bigger dumbasses than the many idiots who bought the lies and voted against their own best interest during the past three decades :-/

    • I would trace it back further: to the late 1970s, when evangelicals soured on Carter and moved to Reagan. This also was the beginning of the destruction of the middle class, brought on by the evangelicals voting on abortion and LGBT bigotry alone. (Not that they were voting against their interests — they’ve gotten return on their investment — look how hard it is to get an abortion in many red states.) I don’t see much difference between Trump and Reagan.

      • I never really saw myself writing this sentence before, but I think this is a little unfair to Reagan. Trump’s directly aggressive rhetoric is importantly different. Reagan’s conservative rhetoric, whatever the reality, appealed to a certain claim of politeness and playing by the rules in distinction to those rude and violent personally-irresponsible liberals. He couldn’t win by appealing only to the Christian right.

        I remind you that in 1979, full recognition of gay rights and the view that abortion should be provided as a matter of course were minority positions even among the so-called ‘liberal’ set.

        And I think the originators of the Southern Strategy did not consciously realize how dangerous a game they were playing. The Republicans of the 90’s figured it out, and did not care.

        • Something I noticed when Limbaugh first began to take off. Reagan painted liberals as fools, “bleeding hearts.” Limbaugh and his ilk portrayed liberals as traitors. But I doubt that’s because Reagan had more class. Just that the GOP wasn’t as far-right yet (and Reagan helped push it farther right.)

          As to the Southern Strategy being dangerous, I think Nixon would have embraced fascism. He certainly acted above the law and supported massive military force. He also backed programs to help poor people, something classical fascists did as well.

          Today I doubt the GOP is worried about Trump’s fascist appeal; they’re worried he might lose. They’d back Genghis Khan if they thought he’d win and sign the Koch bills.

          • OK, but every President since at least Truman has acted above the law and supported massive military force.

            I certainly don’t have the warm and fuzzies for the R’s panicking about their likely nominee. Like you, probably, I’m kind of glad to see them so panicking. Still, there is a difference between embracing racism and positively embracing violence.

            Aversion to the conscious and direct advocacy of violence against a group is the last barrier that protects us from pure horror. When did Tamils start to be attacked by individuals in Sri Lanka? When the government started to demonize them directly. The case in Rwanda is similar, as is the case of early Nazi Germany.

            In all three cases, the victimized group was despised and discriminated against before the horror. But only after the powerful gave direct permission did individuals start to attack them violently on a large scale.

            Atwater was a snake, but if Nixon had directly invited people to attack blacks, it would have been the 1920’s KKK times 500.

            • It is frightening. And we’re already seeing increased attacks on immigrants, and attacks on protesters at Trump rallies. And whether or not Trump ever organizes a private army behind him (loons like the Oregon anti-government terrorists would sign up in a flash) Trump pushes us closer to the day when some maniac with a private army would be considered mainstream.

        • You don’t remember Lee Atwater’s “nigger, nigger, nigger” confession? All of these people are playing the same game with the same strategy. Only the tactics change. It’s easy to look back fondly on Reagan. But he was as bad as the environment would allow, just as Trump is now as bad as the environment will allow. If Reagan were an up-and-comer today, he’d be a Trump supporter.

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