Over the weekend, Donald Trump accused President Obama of tapping his phones during the ‘sacred election process’. He doubled down by demanding that Congress investigate the supposed diabolical deed. It is Trump at his bullying best. However, it is a step he may well regret.
Obama has shown he relishes combat. He shredded the birther Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Then in his final press conference, Obama again showed he wouldn’t hesitate to speak up – especially if he believed the country’s “core values may be at stake”, including a “systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion.” (see NPR).
He was scathing of Trump’s cruel exuberance in his war against Muslims. And spoke glowingly of the protest marches – saying he was “heartened by the level of engagement”.
Had Obama launched into an unprovoked condemnation of Trump, traditionalists would have tut-tutted – former Presidents do not speak ill of the current job holder. But Trump’s weekend, spit-flecked assault on Obama’s honor has opened the door.
Which can only benefit Democrats. They lack a leader. Congress offers only the insipid technocrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schummer. The DNC election was a fight to the death between the establishment candidate and the liberal darling – can you name them?
Their bench is shallow. By 2020, there may well be a charismatic, new Democratic candidate – but how many people know Kirsten Gillibrand now? So who’s available? The answer is Obama. He would be a perfect fit. All his talents line up.
Obama’s stock-in-trade is inspiration. He soars on big issues – race, religion, humanity. He appeals to what is noble in the American soul. And now he is free from the tawdry requirements of governing. He no longer has to ‘make nice’ to get things done. He can just stand in front of crowds and speechify. No one does it better.
There is nothing new the Republicans – or Trump – can throw at him. For eight years Obama was handed every insult the right-wing insult-generator could generate. It has impressed no one except Trump’s true believers. Anything they offer will be dismissed as just more of the ‘same old’.
Is Obama ready for conflict? He is. He does not like Trump. He doesn’t like what Trump has done to the Presidency or America’s reputation. As a young man he fought for his community. As an ex-President his community is the country.
Is Obama equipped for conflict? He is. He may be Mr. Cool, but he has sharp elbows. Trump relies on intimidation. Obama isn’t intimidated. He thinks Trump is a joke – but he won’t underestimate him. Trump’s strength is also his weakness. He will say anything. Obama’s strength is that he can make anything Trump says sound stupid.
Will America back Obama? They will. He has stature. He can talk to Silicon Valley, Wall Street, minorities, Hollywood, intellectuals, liberals – only the Tea Party voter is beyond his reach (and even some of them may give him grudging respect) Since Eisenhower, only Reagan has left for retirement with such positive personal regard.
Trump is used to getting his way. If he can bluster to success, he’ll whine his way there. Unfortunately for him, he has chosen to take on a man who is more than his equal. Does he really want that fight?