The biggest loser Tuesday night was Barack Obama. After Obama, the next biggest losers were the hordes of people who had pinned their hopes and dreams on his presidency-- on his liberal politics, his will to expand the government, his anti-war propensities, his refusal to call the enemy Islamist terrorism, his sellout to Iran. Those who believed that the Obama presidency would herald a new progressive and even socialist era are sorely discommoded today.
With the single exception of the 2012 presidential election, the Obama years have been a disaster for the Democratic Party. Strangely enough, while many people thought that Donald Trump would destroy the Republican Party, after Tuesday night Republicans control all branches of federal and state governments.
Obviously, Trump does not get all the credit. In truth, the shift began in the first congressional elections of the Obama years. The calamity of the Obama presidency was self-inflicted.
Frank Bruni sums it up well:
We geniuses in the news media spent only the last month telling you how Donald Trump was losing this election. We spent the last year telling you how the Republican Party was unraveling.
And here we are, with the Democrats in tatters. You might want to think twice about our Oscar and Super Bowl predictions.
Despite all the discussion of demographic forces that doomed the G.O.P., it will soon control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress and two of every three governor’s offices. And that’s not just a function of James Comey, Julian Assange and misogyny. Democrats who believe so are dangerously mistaken.
Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.
Bruni explains that liberals lost because they were anything but liberal minded. The Democratic Party morphed into a radical leftist movement, one that treated everyone who disagreed with contempt:
Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.
Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.
George Friedman—the only Friedman worth reading—explained that Democrats had lost the middle class, people whose values were at severe variance from those touted by the liberal elites. Again, as I and numerous others have pointed out, these people have been treated with contempt:
Pride that comes from working hard and making a good living for their families was lost. They found that values they had regarded as commonplace were now regarded as phobias, illnesses they must overcome in order to be politically correct. Values they were taught as children could no longer be expressed in public.
In a just world Barack Obama would feel humbled. He was not up to the job. He lacked the experience to do the job. He thought that he could get by on his brilliance. He couldn’t.
In truth, Obama has recently been showing signs of humility. Perhaps he was bracing for defeat, but before the election, at one of his last rallies, Obama shouted down his audience for disrespecting a Trump supporter who was protesting at the rally.
Considering that during his presidency it has been customary for conservative speakers to be shouted down or disinvited from college campuses, this shows a shift of focus. It tells us that the president should have used his own bully pulpit to shout down some of the college administrators and zealous student activists who were suppressing free speech.
And let’s not forget, his Education department issued a directive that deprived any college student accused of sexual assault of all rights to due process.
Obama has mostly been very gracious about the Trump victory. He should redouble his efforts to call on his supporters to calm themselves down and to tamp down their tantrums, but he did accept the result of the election and did announce that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.
And he received the Trumps at the White House graciously because, as he put it, the Bushes could not have been nicer to him and his family during their transition. It was one of the few generous thing he has said about people that he has tended to demonize.
So, Obama has been humbled. He has always presented a calm and decorous demeanor, so we would have expected as much. And yet, sad to say, he could not miss one parting cheap shot. Since custom dictates that the current president and his wife take a picture with the incoming president and his wife, when Obama failed to honor that custom it felt like an unnecessary slight.
On that score Obama could not resist. Or perhaps, he was taking advice from the wrong advisor.