When the Democratic presidential candidates met for the rounds of debates, they attacked President Trump. They attacked one another with equal gusto. However, one surprising target became the recipient of their ire as well. The New York Post explains:
“President Barack Obama wasn’t on the debate stage with the 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls Wednesday night — but his legacy was, and it was trashed by many of the candidates, leaving some Democrats scratching their heads in disbelief.
“Obama’s record on immigration was widely criticized by the participants and his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, became a casualty of the discussion around ‘Medicare for All,’ as his former Vice President Joe Biden attempted to defend the administration’s work.”
As most pundits noted, Biden was the sole exception to the pile on the former president. The current front runner has been running as the heir of Obama, a Democratic president who won election and reelection easily. He was hailed as the purveyor of hope and change and as the first African American to ascend to the Oval Office. Now, incredibly, the man who has been derided by conservatives as being an extreme leftist is considered too much of a moderate for modern Democrats who are now seeking the presidency.
Obama, shrewdly, knew that universal, government-run health care did not poll very well. Obamacare, a ramshackle policy that most analysts regard as comprising the worst of both worlds of the free market and government control. The plan barely passed the Congress and its rollout proved to be chaotic and more harmful than good. The 2020 Democrats, except for Biden, want it scrapped as enthusiastically as any free-market conservative. The difference is that unlike President Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz, most of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination want to go full-bore toward a Canadian-style government system.
The dirty little secret on immigration is that Obama was as enthusiastic a deporter of illegal; immigrants as Trump has been. Kids in cages and family separations were pioneered under his administration.
As for climate change, don’t get the modern Democratic candidates started. Obama gave lip service to the problem, offered subsidies to renewable energy companies (remember Solyndra?) and talked about bankrupting coal. But fracking started to take off under Obama’s watch and sent natural gas prices plunging. The former president did not support anything like the Green New Deal.
Still, the question arises, why does Barack Obama get all of this disrespect? President Ronald Reagan is still revered by Republicans 30 plus years after he left office.
The National Review takes a stab at an explanation. The real reason is that the number of Democratic officeholders who lost their seats in 2010 and again in 2014 were moderates, leaving behind the hard-core leftists.
“The ranks of moderate and conservative Democrats were disproportionately hollowed out under Obama, while Democrats in deep-blue liberal areas were emboldened to move even further left. (Trump has had a similar effect on the right, decimating the moderate wing of the GOP while intensifying the partisanship of conservatives in safe red areas.)
“The big-name Democrats who survived Obama are more concerned by primary challenges to their left than by general-election threats from their right. As a result, they have a hard time talking to audiences that don’t already agree with them on the big questions.“Those ultra-liberal politicians — Warren, Sanders, et al. — now drive the party to such a degree that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen as a moderating force on the Democrats. The moderates in the debates are like refugees of a wing of a party that has shrunk to a feather. Only Biden stands as a formidable figure, because of his time at Obama’s side.”
The sure sign of what ill regard Obama is regarded with occurred recently when Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, accused the former president of being a “pretty face” who “got away with murder.” What she said was the sort of invective that had a Republican said it would have fetched accusations of racism.
The Democratic Party has gone a long way in the last almost thirty years. It has morphed from the Clinton “the era of big government is over” to Obama hope and change leftism to what it has become today. Obama, who is still personally popular among rank and file Democrats, has been left behind, his legacy lasting only a few months after he left the White House. As the National Review notes, his is the “incredibly shrinking presidency.”