Trapped in a very sticky wicket of their own design since the early years of the health care debate in Obama’s first term: GOP leadership and officeholders reflexively oppose anything Obama proposes. A Grand Bargain to cut Social Security benefits while reforming the tax code and reducing the growth of public debt? “Never!” Punish Syria with bombs for its use of chemical weapons on its own citizens? “Nope!” Even the public/private hybrid health care insurance delivery proposal that became the ACA, then “Obamacare” — despite its birth pains at the Heritage Foundation — did not get a single GOP vote in either house of Congress.
Charlie Pierce thinks today’s announcement by the President that Donald Trump is “woefully unprepared” is only the latest example of Obama being Obama in his last year in the office:
The president keeps looking into that big bag of fcks and, dammit, as The New York Times reports, if he still doesn’t find it to be empty.
I think there’s more here than meets the eye.
In his strongest denunciation of Donald J. Trump so far, President Obama on Tuesday said Mr. Trump was “unfit to serve as president” and urged the leaders of the Republican Party to withdraw their backing for his candidacy.
…. “The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the White House.
It’s President Obama’s suggestion that the GOP leadership withdraw their support of Donald Trump. It’s Obama’s idea now. The President has skillfully used the GOP leadership’s mantra about himself against them. The Republican National Committee cannot now meet in secret — whether at the Skull and Bones treehouse in New Haven, or the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, or Reince Priebus’s Tardis — to Dump Trump. Having asked them how they can denounce Trump but still support him, the President has boxed them in: Priebus, McConnell, Ryan, Christie, Rubio, McCain, Cruz, Walker, every Bush, every GOP Senator and every GOP governor and every GOP congress critter. All of them.
They can’t very well Dump Trump now, no matter what outrages he commits tomorrow or next week. It was the President’s idea! Get it?
Since nothing President Obama suggests can be adopted by the GOP, it’s toxic. It’s toxic if it’s got his name on it, and Dump Trump is now Obama’s suggestion. With a headline like this one in today’s New York Times, how can they?
The very last thing any Republican leader can do now is withdraw support for Trump; they’ll be named and shamed as Obama’s stooge. What are they going to tell their party base? “Oh, well, once the President suggested it, we thought we ought to go ahead and Dump Trump….”
They’ve spent almost eight years explaining to their party loyalists that *anything* this President proposes, they’ll oppose. If he’s for it, they’re against it. Even if they were for it yesterday (cf Grand Bargain, Syria bombing, health insurance hybridization) they are against it now that it’s Obama’s idea.
Anything. Even a suggestion of a sane, good-faith effort to save their party in November.
So, Mr Pierce, there’s one more fck in that bag in the Oval Office after all: it’s “let me endorse that idea for you!” President Obama used it very wisely today; lucky for us all, it’s not one-use-only. I expect we may very well see him roll it out, with grave intonation and with the best intention, to great success, until his successor is inaugurated next January.