“Does my sassiness upset you?
“Why are you beset with gloom?
“Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
“Pumping in my living room.”
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– Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”
Dear Mr. So-Called President:
You really need to get over this Obama fixation.
Can’t you see he’s just not that into you? The sooner you accept that and get on with your life, the better off you’ll be.
No, it is not uncommon for a president to blame bad tidings on the guy before him, sometimes even with justification. President Barack Obama himself was seldom slow to remind people of the economic mess he inherited from President George W. Bush.
But you, Mr. So-Called President, have ridden that horse into the ground where Obama is concerned. You’ve blamed him for protests against you and your party and for White House leaks, for gang activity, the gas attack in Syria, the botched raid in Yemen, factory layoffs in Indiana. You’ve blamed him for supposedly tapping your phones.
This week, you blamed him for former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, whom you fired in February after The Washington Post reported he had lied about his contacts with a Russian official. As questions about your administration’s possible ties to Russia heated up again, you tweeted: “General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.”
That’s a howler for several reasons. One: Obama fired Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. Two: He warned you, right after the election, that Flynn was bad news. Three: Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, testified Monday that she told your administration that Flynn had lied and was thus vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
Yet, you didn’t fire him until 18 days later when the Post published its report. And somehow, that’s Obama’s fault?
Mr. So-Called President, this begins to look less like politics than obsession. Maybe it’s understandable. There you are, trapped in meetings with Paul Ryan, only able to golf a paltry 16 times or so in your first 100 days, stuck with a job that’s way harder than you thought it would be. Meantime, there he is, parasailing in the Virgin Islands, yachting in the South Pacific with Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks, still sleeker than you, still smarter than you, still speaking in complete sentences and, by all appearances, having the time of his life.
Is that the basis of this weird psychodrama? In your mind, is he Bugs Bunny to your Elmer Fudd? Moby Dick to your Ahab? Well, like it or not – and most of us don’t – you are the so-called president now. And that is supposed to mean something.
“The buck stops here.” Ever hear that expression? It was popularized by Harry Truman, reflecting his belief that as president, it was his job to make hard decisions and accept the consequences.
But with you, the buck never stops and you never saw a consequence you couldn’t dodge. That’s not a profile you’d want to see in the manager of a Dairy Queen, much less the leader of the free world. Yes, you got away with it in your years as a flimflam man and reality-show huckster. But you’re in a different arena now.
And it has revealed you as a man of moral greasiness and with an utter lack of character. Surely even you must know, behind all the bluster and boastfulness, how badly you are blowing this. Just four months in, you’re already on track to go down as the most incompetent president, ever.
You’ll probably blame Obama for that, too.
Leonard Pitts Jr. can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.