Barack Obama is hitting the campaign trail — and no one could be happier than Republicans! The former president stepped back into the spotlight last Friday, campaigning for a Congress that he spent his entire two terms ignoring. In a speech to University of Illinois students that was equal parts smug and self-righteous, the 44th president’s antagonism was a potent reminder of what voters rejected in 2016. And not a moment too soon.Almost two years to the day that Hillary Clinton gave her fateful “deplorables” speech, Obama proved that Democrats still haven’t learned how to control their contempt for millions of conservative Americans. With a sanctimony that people learned to despise, one of the most polarizing presidents in history had the nerve to lecture Americans on demagoguery. Implying that Trump supporters are “bigots” and “fearmongers,” Obama went on to blame Republicans for tearing the country apart. “…The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party,” he said. This from a man who made Middle-America bashing a professional sport in his eight years at the White House. Who dismissed blue-collar patriots “bitter clingers” who turn to religion and guns because they’re too ignorant to know better. Who called political opponents “unpatriotic” or even “craz[y].”
Republicans like Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fired back at the hypocrisy almost immediately, posting, “Pres. Obama is right. It is wrong for a President to use divisive language, such as: 1. Call all opponents of same-sex marriage bigots; 2. Call the Pro-Life movement a ‘War on Women;’ 3. Call all immigration enforcement advocates racists; 4. Call the GOP the enemy of Hispanics.” On Fox News, Judge Jeanine Pirro said that if Obama was looking for someone to blame for the animus, he ought to look in the mirror. “Your lies, your policies, and your divisiveness… You elected Donald Trump.”
To evangelicals, his longtime punching bag, he tried to preach a decency he rarely practiced. “Even if you are an evangelical and our position on certain social issues is a bridge too far… I’m here to tell you that you should still be concerned with our current course and should still want to see a restoration of honesty… and lawfulness in our government.” So let me get this straight. The president whose reign included an attorney general who was held in contempt of Congress, an administration that refused to enforce federal law, and misled Congress and the American public with meaningless executive orders wants to lecture evangelicals on lawfulness? That’s like Judas lecturing Matthew on proper accounting principles.
Two years is a long time, but it’s not long enough for the American people to forget the man who built a bigger bypass around the Constitution than I-495! His administration was synonymous with lawlessness. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chronicled 76 examples of it by 2014 alone. The president who said, “Middle class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So, sue me,” is sermonizing on political authority?
“He used his ‘pen and phone’ to circumvent the will of Congress,” Chris Pandolfo fumed. “He sicced his IRS on conservative organizations for opposing his agenda. He ran a gun-running “Fast and Furious” program that put illegal firearms in the hands of violent criminals. His administration spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen. His communications director Anita Dunn said the Obama White House would treat Fox News “the way we would treat an opponent.” Obama lied about keeping your doctor, lied about the Iran nuclear deal, lied about NSA spying, lied about how easy it is to buy a gun, and lied repeatedly throughout his presidency.”
And that’s just the tip of the overreach iceberg. The courts have an equally impressive tally, having rebuked and overturned the administration on everything from recess appointments and immigration to Obamacare mandates.
Not content to sit in the shadows and watch Trump rack up victories on the economy, unemployment, trade, and denuclearization, Obama tried desperately to take some credit for the president’s successes. In a sad attempt to rewrite his disastrous financial legacy, he told the students, “Let’s just remember when this recovery started. I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers and suddenly Republicans are saying it’s a miracle, I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016 and — anyway. I digress.”
The former president can talk all he wants about jumpstarting the economy, but the numbers speak louder than any stump speech soundbite. In reality, Barack Obama presided over “the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.” It was so awful, CBS’s Michael Graham pointed out, that “in August of 2011— two years after the $1 trillion stimulus was passed — the economy added zero jobs.” Vice President Mike Pence was just as surprised as anyone else that Obama would try to “tout policies that resulted in less than two percent growth, saw tax increases, Obamacare regulation, and doubling the national debt. [I]t was very disappointing, but frankly I think it just illuminates the choice the American people had in the midterm elections.”
“If we don’t step up,” Obama said, “things could get worse.” Worse, as in more take-home pay, a stronger military and economy, peace with North Korea, and a return to free speech, religious liberty, and respect for life? If that’s the Left’s best argument heading into November, then political strategists are right. Obama is doing more to help conservatives out of the White House than he ever did in it!
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.