The one very important way Donald Trump sounds like … Barack Obama

AP file photo

AP file photo

The year is 2008. One man has surprised the pundits by soaring in opinion polls and winning an early state. He offers few details for governing, just vague, upbeat slogans. Throngs of people believe he alone can fix our problems. He seems to agree, above all selling his own force of will. He has doubters, but nothing — not others’ attacks, nor his own past words — brings him down.

Eight years later, history is repeating itself: One man has surprised the pundits by soaring in opinion polls and winning an early state. He offers few details for governing, just vague, upbeat slogans. Throngs of people believe he alone can fix our problems. He seems to agree, above all selling his own force of will. He has doubters, but nothing — not others’ attacks, nor his own past words — brings him down.

It is only natural for Republicans to run against Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as the “third term” of Barack Obama. Some liken Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to Obama for their inexperience. But despite some obvious differences, the phenomenon most resembling the 2008 Obama is that of Donald Trump.

Obama famously wrote that, because of people’s lack of familiarity with him, he was a “blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Trump, instead because he’s so familiar and has been on both sides of every issue from guns to abortion, is likewise a medium for voters’ projections. One cannot persuade them Trump will do X because he once said X; he’s also said Y, and they agree with Y, so they believe he’ll do Y.

The attachment to Trump, like Obama before him, is not to his ideas but him personally. Obama talked of “hope” and “change.” How would “the rise of the oceans beg(i)n to slow and our planet beg(i)n to heal”? Because we were “willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it”! He actually said out loud, in 2007, that “the day I’m inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently.”

The people of Crimea, the Yazidis of Iraq, and dissidents in Iran and Cuba would no doubt agree.

Trump vows to “make America great again.” How? By being “a truly great leader” and “mak(ing) great deals” and being “the greatest (fill in the blank) that God ever created.” China, Mexico, ISIS, the Ford Motor Co.: All will yield to the not-P.C. force of nature that is Trump. So will the “stupid” denizens of Washington, D.C. Did I mention “he fights”?

Even where candidate Obama was specific, President Obama has not felt constrained to those details. A great irony of Obama’s presidency is that, having run ads in 2008 criticizing Clinton’s inclusion of a health-insurance mandate in her reform plan, his legacy arguably hinged on the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling upholding the individual mandate in Obamacare. Now, that’s being “malleable” … as Jimmy Carter recently described Trump.

The most stunning thing said during this campaign about Trump — who overstates how much he’s funded his own campaign, who makes unproven claims he opposed the Iraq War and that George W. Bush “lied” us into it, who exaggerates or invents the details of his claims about everything from the unemployment rate to Syrian refugees — is he’s a “truth teller.”

Saying things people want to hear doesn’t make those things true. We fell for that once. Let’s not do it again.

Reader Comments 0

45 comments
Joyce Mitar Morgan
Joyce Mitar Morgan

the problem is this, America will do it again, believing some ash-holes rhetoric...people are not using common sense...we are in big doodoo folks.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Listening to Mark Levin trashing Rubio tonight while Kyle , Kevin Mc Carthy and others think Rubio is the  salvation of GOP. I guess GOP long knives coming out as the top three get cut up and stabbed as GOP implodes

DennisBrown
DennisBrown

Just the kind of trash I would expect from the liberal media.  Obama had no track record of accomplishments, Trump does!

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

Fool me once -- one on me!  That happened in 2008 and again in 2012. Just did not want to admit I was wrong in 2008.  But, I WAS!!


Just hope that we wake up and realize that we are playing into the hands of another egotist, and that the reason we are not hearing specifics from Trump is because HE HAS NONE!


Of all candidates, both parties, John Kasich is by far the most qualified: knows how Congress operates and did something while he was there (to wit, balanced the budget while Budget Chairman); left Congress and entered business where he was successful; and ran for and was elected TWICE as Governor of a large mid western state (turning a debt into a surplus, bringing jobs back to Ohio, and taking care of the citizens of the State).


Hope that we can rid ourselves of the the 'Hope and Changie non sense from both Trump and Hillary, and get someone like John Kasich who has walked the walk, rather than attempting to satisfy their egos!

We have paid the price for one big mistake.  Hope we are smart enough not to make the same one twice!

TBS
TBS

Kyle

Don't dog out Trump too much.  Within a few months you might be one his Trumpettes.  Tooting his horn and writing columns about how great he is going to be for America. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@TBS Its coming.


As are his predictions that Trump will win the election.

RealKat
RealKat

I have to assume Trump has bigger plans for when he's done being president (assuming he's elected) such as (even) larger speaking fees, buildings named after him such as a library, or some other favors. He's too smart a businessman (or too dumb a politician) to think self-funding makes sense.

bendedknee
bendedknee

@RealKat His only plan right now is capturing and owning a bankrupt major political party and playing arouind with its leaders for fun and his own purposes.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Lets see all the false hope and change of Obama that got him elected in 2008:

1. End the war in Iraq;

2. Get people back to work;

3. Fight terrorism including capturing ben Laden;

4. Opening dialogue with Iran:

5. Solving the spiraling cost of health care and lack of health care coverage foir most Americans.

6. Repairing  relations with European countries and  

6. Protecting Israel's security

Yeah all that was just campaign rhetoric.

Kyle ignores fact that what makes remaining three GOP clowns popular is their hatred for Obama, Hillary, liberals , Muslims and immigrants. Just the old trickling down the leg promise of more jobs.No track record of one GOP sponsored jobs program in seven years. 

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

There are some valid comparisons, both with the men themselves and the  times in which they campaigned for the office. 


Both present themselves as candidates who strongly repudiate current leadership, claiming they'll right a ship of state that's strayed disastrously off course.  We didn't  get a candidate like Obama by accident.  We deserved him.  That's true of Trump's appeal as well. The unconditional support of both guys is rooted in well-founded anger and frustration.


Both men are narcissists.  Trump displays his gargantuan ego with a constant barrage of sophomoric bluster.  Obama's complete disdain for anyone/anything conflicting with his beliefs  (e.g. traditional values held by half the country) the past seven years prove he's an uncompromising activist firstly and a statesman secondly, if at all.  He's shown his campaign slogan has never been 'Hope and Change'.  It's always been 'Stop Me If You Can'.  


Trump is less principled than Obama - or his principles are malleable as Jimmy Carter noted.


Obama didn't bring us together - he never tried - my biggest criticism of him.  I don't think Trump will bring us together either.  If the economy improves and there's real job growth - that includes those  who have abandoned the market during the Obama years - then maybe a general contentment will improve all our dispositions.




TicTacs
TicTacs

The last 7 years have seen the US improve all the metrics the GOP ran into the ditch from 2000-2008.  New judges and presidents will continue.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Jefferson1776 Unemployment down. Deficits down. Markets doubled. 


Americans are going to have a clear choice this fall. Continue the progress we have made or back to Bushnomics which got us into trouble in the first place.


Its gonna be an easy call.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@Hedley_Lammar @Jefferson1776

Unemployment was lower on average from 2000-2008 than 2009-present.  Fail.

Aggregate deficits 2000-2008 were less than $5 trillion; since then $8 trillion.  Fail.

On W's watch the market went from 10500 to over 14000 prior to the recession.  Since that time the market hasn't even kept up with inflation.  People who didn't panic quickly recovered the losses that occurred during the recession.  Gotta give you that one though, if I'm being consistent.

Some things you avoided mentioning--poverty (higher on Obama's watch), spending (higher on Obama's watch), labor participation (lower on Obama's watch), economic freedom (lower on Obama's watch), family incomes (lower on Obama's watch), income inequality (worse on Obama's watch), public sentiment on race relations (worse on Obama's watch)...

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @Hedley_Lammar @Jefferson1776 And after Joe Biden declared Iraq pacified, we are back in war in Iraq.  We have lost more Americans in Afghanistan under Obama than Bush and remain at war. The Iranian economy was operating on fumes, now they have are flush with 150 Billion dollars.


And the CIA is now recruiting transsexuals in their effort to boost their diversity.  That should work out well, we need some more double agents.

Georgia Dwag
Georgia Dwag

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @Hedley_Lammar @Jefferson1776 Seriously?  I prefer to look at a president's term from beginning to end:  


Bush started with a budget SURPLUS and ended with the largest deficit in history.  Obama inherited that and reduced it by 2/3 so far.


Bush ended with some of the largest job monthly job losses in history.  Obama has had over 6 years of consecutive months of employment growth.


If you want to compare Bush to Obama, I could go on.  However, let's focus on what might happen when one of the current gaggle of candidates gets elected.  I come to Kasich as the only one with a demonstrably positive track record and personal decency.

nick1234
nick1234

This is so off base I don't know where to start. Obama ran on issues, just because you didn't like them, doesn't mean he didn't run on them. He said he was going to pass Universal Health Care and he did. Said he was going to pass stimulus and he did. 


I don't recall Trump proposing any policy solution aside from saying he will build a wall.  


Obama also ran on uniting the county (hasn't succeeded here, but who could with this Congress). Trump is running on hate, dividing us at every turn. 



Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@nick1234

He ran on "hope and change", which is not actually a policy.

And for all his miraculous policy-giving, there are still tens of millions without health insurance.  Also note that there is no interest among leftists to compare the very high costs of Obamacare with the meager benefits.

bendedknee
bendedknee

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @nick1234 Glad to see you are committed to Georgia  getting all the federal dollars it can get to keep hospitals open so Reagancare is available at ERs throughout Georgia.

bu22
bu22

@nick1234 Obama ran on uniting the country and then immediately started insulting anybody who disagreed with him.  He didn't get the name "Divider-in-chief" for nothing.  That's his prime accomplishment.

Caius
Caius

Heard a little of Trump's discussion on healthcare and apparently he wants to cancel Obamacare and then expand it to the point that every person in the US is covered.  Call it Trumpcare if you like. His main complaint seems to be that private business is to heavily involved in Obamacare and their is not enough competition.  Which is different from Republican claims that Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare.


Now did I get his policy right?  No idea as a good deal of translation is necessary to understand Trump. Be best to read it but not paper has been published o  healthcare by his campaign.  he says it is coming. But bottom line is that "everyone will be covered".


Otto von Bismarck eat your heart out!


RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Caius "His main complaint seems to be that private business is to heavily involved in Obamacare and their is not enough competition. "

So....where does Trump expect the competition to come from if it isn't from a private business?


Oh and still waiting on the "official" repub healthcare plan. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps doesn't work, esp after abdominal surgery!

Here's_to_Blue
Here's_to_Blue

"Even where candidate Obama was specific, President Obama has not felt constrained to those details."

Egad, Kyle, I can't believe even you can say that with a straight face after the lock-step opposition Obama has faced from the Republicans during his entire term.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Here's_to_Blue Who was it that passed Obama's fast track trade authority, the Stimulus bill, and his recent Omnibus spending spree.  


Both parties are lock step together on rewarding the folks who own them.

JamVet
JamVet

Is Mr. Wingfield suggesting that the party faithful in the Party of Flexible Morality abandon the depraved Don?

MarkVV
MarkVV

One can make a parallel between Obama’s a Trumps campaign oratory only if one ignores the difference between good and evil. Obama appealed to the best instincts in people; Trump to some of the worst instincts.

Specificity of the proposals in presidential campaign is an issue that the political pundits and some candidates oversold the voters and elevated to an importance it does not have. And so we have all those websites the candidates proudly announce and urge voters to examine. I believe that the percentage of the voters who actually look at them closely is very small, and the percentage of those who examine them in detail even much smaller.  And those who do and make their decision on them apparently ignore the fact that we do not elect a dictator or a king, who could put those proposals in action at their will.

A believe people make their decisions regarding the presidential candidates mostly on agreement with the stated goals and the perceived willingness and ability of the candidates to pursue them. If the pundits understood that, they would not be so surprised that so many people support Donald Trump.

concernedoldtimer
concernedoldtimer

And still little mention of the lawsuits.....bankruptcies,....eminent domain problem.....

EyeWonder
EyeWonder

@concernedoldtimer

"Shellshocked." That's what Kyle is. That's why Kyle likens Trump to Obama. Kyle best get behind Pretty Boy Marcobot McStooge. Early and often. Else it'll be four more years - at least - of more hope and change.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Any comparison between Trump and Obama is laughable at best.


Other than maybe Trump demanding to see his birth certificate the men and their ideas really dont cross paths.


Just another attempt to rationalize the Trump nomination for anything other than what it really is.



EyeWonder
EyeWonder

Trump has my vote. In the primary, at least. I'd rather Mrs. Clinton faced him than Pretty Boy Marcobot McStooge.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Kyle, you are spot on with the analysis and comparison, but unfortunately I think that ship has sailed.  Trump is not returning to the dock.  I plan to vote against him next Thursday, but I don't see anyway to stop him unless you think Rubio and Cruz are going to settle their score and agree that one of them needs to drop out. 


They will fight until the end and even if one of them pulls ahead the other will draw 15-20% of the vote to keep the Donald in front.  If Rubio loses FL he might be embarrassed and get out, but it is going to be too late by then.  The establishment fantasy of everyone coalescing around one candidate always leaves out Cruz, but he is not going anywhere.  He and Trump garnered 55% of the vote on Sat and yet somehow folks think Rubio can unite the party, haha! The establishment has run out of ammo in my opinion.  Folks want the system drastically changed and they don't think any of these politicians will do more than tinker around the edges.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

"The attachment to Trump, like Obama before him, is not to his ideas but him personally." Perhaps but Trump has a huge narcissistic streak in him beyond president Obama may have shown. Trump (and Cruz) seem to think they are running for a dictatorship instead of the Presidency. Trump is all "Me, me , me" while President Obama is us, us, us. (As is Kasich).


Now for all the whining on how bbbaaaaaddddd President Obama is. Will the repubs swear off ALL Executive orders?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

It's almost as if voters care more about personality and charisma than policy and competence.  That's certainly been true of the Democrat party for some time now (they'll vote for scumbags and felons as long as they're photogenic or are the right race/gender).  It has been less true of the GOP, but that seems to be changing.  We became untethered from reality in 2008 and it seems the chances for fixing that in 2016 are dimming.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Lil_Barry_Bailout President Obama has run circles around your policy and competence repubs! Seems he knows how to play them, huh? I think they call that competence of being a politician.