Sunday, July 01, 2018

Even Sinatra Had A Few Regrets

Former president Barack Obama appeared Thursday in Beverly Hills at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It was the first of three fundraisers he'll attend and he displayed his characteristic boldness. Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico reports

He did not specifically discuss immigrant families being separated at detention centers. He did not discuss the travel ban or other rulings from the Supreme Court this week. Teed up gently but directly by DNC chairman Tom Perez, who was seated next to him on a small stage asking questions to prompt the discussion, he dodged a question about Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Merrick Garland’s name wasn’t mentioned, and neither was the current push by most Senate Democrats — and supported by Obama’s former vice president Joe Biden — to say that Trump’s nominee should also not be given a hearing until after the next election.

A couple of thousand children being taken by the Trump-Sessions government from their parents? Not a big deal. Ihe most important vacancy in recent Supreme Court history? Not worth talking about.

It was classic Obama, who (sarcasm ahead) humbly stated

I’ll be honest with you, if I have a regret during my presidency, it is that people were so focused on me and the battles we were having, particularly after we lost the House, that folks stopped paying attention up and down the ballot.

In this telling, the Party didn't lose seats because voters were becoming increasingly fed up with his presidency. He was just so darn compelling that all eyes were focused on him.

If I have a regret during my presidency? While Obama was wishing and hoping, Kim Jong-un was strengthening North Korea's nuclear weapons program.  The minimum wage was not increased.  The titans of Wall Street, having brought the world's economy nearly to its knees shortly before Obama took over, were given a pass.

These are only a few of the policy failures in 2009-2016, and far more than would render "if I have a regret" to be anything less than obscene.

But the failure of his presidency was not limited to policy.  Ian Bremmer reminds us

The U.S. government under Obama knew what the Russians were doing. Obama was warned repeatedly by Eastern European governments that Russia was meddling in their own elections. And while Latvian elections don’t exactly rank high on the list of an American president’s priorities, the White House could have guessed what the Russians were gearing up to do — and should have sent them a forceful message to knock it off. Obama apparently issued a direct warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin when they met in person in September 2016, but it came too late and had little effect.

The lack of defensive cyber weapons to deter the brunt of the meddling obviously complicated matters (and still does). Still, if you can’t formulate effective cyber-defense measures, at least put together clear policies to deter future attacks—go on the offensive and freeze Russian bank accounts, threaten to publish embarrassing information about Putin and his inner circle, and so on.

Instead it looks like there was barely any deterrence from the Obama administration — and that’s on him. By the time Wikileaks was starting to make waves in the presidential election with suspiciously timed email leaks, the response from the Obama administration was too weak and too late to stem the tide of false information.

Politico notes "Obama stuck to his routine of never saying President Donald Trump’s name in public, but he spoke at length about what his problems are with the Trump presidency."

Obama will not mention the name "Donald Trump" but at least he criticizes the incumbent, for whom every day is "opposite day" in reversing everything Obama. It is the least the former President can do and in his post-presidency, the least he can do is exactly what Barack Obama will do.

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