By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The moment the indictments of 12 Russians for election rigging of the 2016 presidential election was announced, President Donald Trump wasted no time.
He did what he has done before, during and after the 2016 presidential election. He blamed the tampering on former President Barack Obama for doing nothing to stop it.
For his part, Obama did what he has done from the start of Trump’s harangues against him. He said nothing. The open-hearted political gesture that Obama made in writing Trump a best wishes letter the day he left the White House has meant nothing to Trump.
Obama’s deafening silence on Trump has been more than disturbing. It has been downright agonizing.
There are two reasons why. The first is Trump. He has cannily and cynically molded Obama into the near perfect political patsy to vilify, hector, harass and blame for every political ill. Trump’s fake and phony assault on him for birtherism, Obamacare, his executive orders and any and every foreign policy issue has been carefully scripted to make Obama the fount of all political evil.
With few exceptions, Obama has said nothing.
The non-stop verbal abuse of him for Obamacare helped propel Trump to the front of the Republican political pack. Once in the White House, he wasted no time in ripping apart any and every one of Obama’s executive orders. And every time he did, he bad-mouthed Obama for the order.
Trump uses the vile personal and political attacks as a calculated tool to rev up his base of unreconstructed Obama loathers, push his destructive agenda, and to deflect attention from the potentially irreparable harm of it.
This isn’t just the standard political opposing party’s one-upmanship against an outgoing president. It is dirty and personal. Trump doesn’t just loathe everything Obama represents. He seems to loathe him.
Keep in mind that the reason outgoing presidents adhere to the protocol of not attacking their successor is because their successor upheld their part of the bargain and rarely, if ever, mentioned their predecessor directly or indirectly.
They did not make opposition to their policies as the prime reason they got to the White House, or the main reason for them staying there. Trump deliberately sneers at holding up his end of the political gentleman’s agreement of presidents not speaking ill of each other with his thunderhead attacks on Obama.
Obama has maintained a studied silence in part out of tradition that presidents maintain a strict code of silence on the flubs, foibles and failures of their successor in the Oval Office. In greater part, his silence can be attributed to not wanting to give Trump any more ammunition to launch more crude, crass gutter attacks on him. Not that he needs it.
This is the go high thinking that drives Obama; principled politics, and respect for the protocol of the system.
This should now be tossed out the window. Obama’s silence gives Trump free license to further lie and distort without any checks or political consequences.
This is the only reason Obama must open up on Trump. His enormous popularity has not diminished one bit since leaving office. He is still regarded by millions as the president who ran a scandal free, classy and political adept administration.
It’s the millions of people that Democrats will need to mobilize, energize and get to the polls if they are to have any chance of reversing the colossal damage Trump has wreaked in crucial domestic and foreign policy issues.
Obama has the charisma and political skills needed to mount the kind of crusade former President Harry Truman did in 1948. He was all but given up for political dead in his re-election bid. He hit the road, from city to city and state to state, and hammered the Republican Party as a threat to roll back the New Deal gains. This revved up Democrats to march to the polls to check the feared GOP assault if a Republican got in the White House.
Truman, like Obama, had the name and skills to put a fire under Democrats. He took the campaign directly to the people and it worked. He won re-election.
His win was called a miracle, but it was anything but. He simply talked issues with the people and talked to them directly.
Obama has a nonprofit political action group. Its goal is to groom and elect more Democrats. That’s fine.
But it’s not the same as him on the stump, on the attack, hitting hard at Trump and the Republican Party hijacking the government and the courts. Obama’s silence in the face of this is tantamount to aiding and abetting the government assault in his name.
To say that publicly and wherever he can violates no time-honored political principal of one president staying aloof from another. Trump long since has violated that.
That means only one thing. It’s time for Obama to break his silence on Trump.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming “Why Black Lives Do Matter” (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.