Double Standard: Imagining a 2016 Transition Under a President-Elect Barack Obama
Author’s note: There’s no question that President-elect Donald Trump is like no other national political figure this country has seen before. Much of his behavior, decisions, business histories and familial relationships, have raised bipartisan eyebrows during this transition. But let’s imagine an alternate reality in which the current president-elect was none other than a newly elected Barack Obama, and the very behavior that we see in Mr. Trump, was acted out by Mr. Obama. We suspect that story that might look something like…
President-Elect Obama’s Non-Traditional Transition Inspires Calls for Immediate Impeachment
President-Elect Barack Obama continued to raise establishment eyebrows today as the parade of foreign dignitaries, progressive ideologues, and entertainers/rappers continued through the lobby of his Tribeca-loft building, stoking the extremely vocal critics who claim that his complete lack of political experience is certain to lead the country to ruin.
The former and junior Illinois Senator (and once-failed Democratic candidate from the 2008 presidential campaign) continued to lean on his successful run as talk show host and Executive Producer of hit reality programs like Community Organizer and My Name is Big Brother, to continue what can only be called his massive disruption of both White House politics and accepted D.C. tradition. GOP leaders and supporters alike are outraged at what they see as a flouting of presidential practice, though the President-elect seems to pay little heed to both his critics, and to a bitterly divided nation.
Yesterday’s meeting with rapper Kanye West is the latest to raise the ire of the right, an event of which there is no official record since Obama has refused the traditions of the White House press pool. Any effort to ask the president-elect what was specifically discussed has gone ignored, as it’s been nearly seven months since an Obama press conference, another issue that the right is very concerned about. Regarding “Westgate” (as some in the press have coined the Kanye/Obama meeting), many conservative opinion thought leaders have expressed outrage, led by Bill O’Reilly who has carried out running feuds with many rappers and hip-hop artists.
This is just another in a long line of controversies since Obama won the White House despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3MM votes, a fact that is mentioned consistently by his adversaries looking to delegitimize his presidency.
Other eyebrow-raising Obama behaviors include:
+ An aggressive approach to Twitter that relies on cutting insults and appears “un-presidential” in the eyes of his foes. His calling out China over an alleged stolen sea-drone in particular drew massive criticism from GOP foreign dignitaries for its lack of decorum.
+ The steadfast refusal to publicly decry the inflammatory rhetoric from the Nation of Islam, a group that not only appears to be emboldened by the Obama presidency, but has been blamed for a sharp increase in hate-language and graffiti since the early November election. Critics note that his naming Louis Farrakhan as White House Chief Strategy Officer has not helped his case on this.
+ An unclear personal finance situation — including alleged debt to foreign banks and business dealings around the world — that have raised reasonable questions about potential conflicts of interest in future international diplomacy. Much of this would be resolved by the release of tax filings, though President Elect Obama is the first candidate in three decades to refuse to release his taxes.
+ The very questionable inclusion of family members in meetings with foreign leaders and high-level cabinet meetings. His wife, mother-in-law and step-sister have taken part in nearly every major meeting with the President elect, but are also said to be taking over the president elect’s entertainment empire in what Mr. Obama is calling a “blind trust.” Obama has proclaimed that it is “impossible for the president to have a conflicts of interest.”
+ Ownership of numerous luxury apartments around the world which the president-elect uses for lucrative AirBnB revenue. The fact that these properties are often hired by foreign diplomats has suggested that the president-elect is in fact breaking emoluments clause of the US constitution, which has led strict constructionists to call for his immediate impeachment upon his taking oath of the highest office.
+ Rumors of leaked outtakes from Obama’s hit reality show “My Name is Big Brother” in which he is alleged to use hate-speak and inappropriate language towards white and female contestants alike. The show — which was named after a Stevie Wonder song about racial inequality — explored many hardships that people of color faced in modern America, and drew high ratings despite vocal critics who claimed an over-reliance on identity politics.
+ Perhaps the most bitter pill for the right to swallow is found with the Evangelicals, who have long argued over the sanctity of marriage, but have found little tolerance in fact that Mr. Obama has five children from three different wives and has often bragged about his past marital infidelities.
Outgoing President John McCain has mostly stayed out of the political fray, citing the longstanding tradition of peaceful transfer of power every four or eight years. But talk of an Electoral College overturn — combined with behind-the-scenes doubts from GOP and Democrats alike (the #NeverObama movement) have made the president elect’s first year a real challenge.
While some moderates have quietly agreed that there is shared concern with Obama’s non-traditional approach at this transition, his most ardent supporters appear to be thrilled. Defenders of the president-elect have decried that criticism of the first president of color are either blatant racism, or at least rooted in racial misunderstanding. Still, calls for impeachment proceedings have only increased since the election occurred nearly two months ago.
Some say that Obama’s devil-may-care attitude started with a 2008 presidential election that was much closer than people expected. If not for an Electoral College anomaly that benefited President McCain, Mr. Obama could be seeing out his final year in a second term. The fact that McCain became president under such odd circumstances only hindered his political power during his first term
Much was made of Obama’s surprising decision to step down as the junior senator from Illinois following the 2008 campaign, opting instead to launch what turned into a very successful television career hosting talk shows and executive producing docu-series reality shows that he aimed to inform its audience of social ills. But critics saw this career move as relatively craven and cheap way to quickly monetize his suddenly significant and new-found audience. But eight years later, supporters found what they called a much wiser and more experienced candidate, one that led to record attendance at rallies of an otherwise disenfranchised voting bloc.
Looking back, despite the cloud of uncertainty that surrounded the start of his administraiton the McCain presidency had enjoyed a quite successful eight years, especially given how the state of the economy that he inherited during what is now known as the “Great Recession.” The fact that Democratic leaders privately vowed to obstruct any effort made by McCain on his first day in office only infuriated the GOP who complained of Democratic obstructionism. McCain’s accomplishments stand out even more given the broken and dysfunctional Beltway environment. Of course, under McCain’s leadership the country saw record low unemployment, a record high stock market and a quick end to the deaths of US soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Democratic critics never forgave McCain and his followers and spent much of his 8 years questioning the legitimacy of his administration due the manner by which he won election (an electoral college tie that was broken by then Vice President Cheney’s decisive vote.)
But we know all that. The 2016 campaign was universally recognized as a complete and total outlier compared to most election years, where Obama used his new-found communication skills (from hosting reality series and talk shows) to insult his opponent, Governor Sarah Palin. Experts feel that Obama was fortunate to face such weak opposition as Ms. Palin never was truly forgiven for her quitting as Vice President under President McCain just a few months in to her term. But her eventual election as the Governor of Texas saw her return to the good favor with the GOP, and while she lost the presidential election, she is said to be excited to be starting a new line of clothing for big and tall women.
Colby Hall is the Founding Editor of Mediaite.com. Please follow him on Twitter @colbyhall.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.