Since the election, “This is why Trump won” has been popular social-media response to the self-righteous liberals who continue to scold those who don’t subscribe to their politically-correct social justice orthodoxy. Many on the Right (including those who aren’t Trump fans) have enjoyed taunting the Left’s incessant demagoguery, because while the frequency of it hasn’t slowed down, its effectiveness and societal appeal undoubtedly have.
In fact, some of the leftist rants of the past few months (from Hollywood, the Democratic party, and political activists) have been so hysterically ridiculous that it’s hard to imagine how such sentiment was ever mainstreamed in the first place. Thankfully President Obama reemerged at the John F. Kennedy Library earlier this week to answer that question.
After accepting the JFK “Profile in Courage” award, Obama expanded on the topic of courage in a speech to attendees. To the surprise of no one, he applied the noble term to himself and those who supported his presidential agenda — specifically his signature piece of legislation, Obamacare.
“I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential,” the former president told the audience. “But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm.”
He added, “I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is simply politically expedient, but doing what [people] believe in their hearts is right.”
In other words, the Democrats were brave and compassionate for supporting Obama’s vision of health care reform (complete with dishonest rhetoric, skyrocketing patient costs, and overall unsustainability), and the Republicans were cowardly and cruel for opposing it, and now working to repeal and replace sections of the law.
Much can be said about Obama’s well-documented sense of moral superiority in matters such as these, but I’m not sure anyone could have put it better than syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer, did Monday on Fox News:
“It’s been a full hundred days, but it was nice to be reminded of why we should be grateful as a nation that [Obama’s] gone. There are a lot of arguments you can make, on either side, of the debate about Obamacare, but notice how it was complete moral condescension. The other guys are cowards because I, and the people who support me and oppose this legislation, stand with the poor and afflicted and all that, and the others are on the side of the rich and the powerful. That’s nonsense.
What the [Republicans] have done is practically commit political suicide to support a measure with 17 percent support in the population, that does what we know has to be done, which is to curtail entitlements, or starting to curtail, by doing a curtailment of Medicaid. It’s inevitable, it’s in the future. Obama had eight years. He didn’t want to touch it. You can say that this is something necessary, something people are entitled to, but to pretend that you are the one who’s advocating a courageous position when it goes completely against what the public wants, it’s complete nonsense.
Obama did that all through his presidency, always assuming he was on the side of the angels, and always the one who was willing to go against public opinion, when it was completely the opposite. He reminded us, reminded me — it’s been a hundred days — but good riddance, Mr. President. That is sort of the restrained version of my reaction to that condescension.”
Condescension is right. For eight years, President Obama presented himself not just as our nation’s leader, but also as our moral conscience. If you agreed with him, you were doing right by America. If you disagreed with and opposed him, you were a bad, petty, uncaring person who was doing deep harm to our country and its citizens.
Obama and members of his administration sometimes referred to their opposition and critics as people who were “betting against America” or “on the wrong side of history” (two of the nicer phrases they used). And over their eight years in office, the media was more than willing to substantiate that narrative, and treat the president’s promoted principles as how things should be in our country.
Ironically, that alone undermines the notion that Obama was a particularly courageous president. When the media generally approves of whatever you’re doing, political courage is neither required nor exercised.
In fairness, President Trump has also been guilty of these moral high-ground arguments. We’ve seen them when he casts unfair aspersions on (and assigns false motivations to) his political opponents on both sides of the aisle. The differences are that he does it far less frequently, and that he doesn’t put the electorate in the cross-hairs (as Obama liked to). And really, he couldn’t reach Obama-levels of condescension even if he tried, because the media would never give him a free pass on it.
Regardless, such conduct is not an example of courage.
Whether or not you’re a Trump fan, it’s a safe bet that our president’s sense of morality won’t be presented as the moral compass of our nation (from which its citizens are to be judged) anytime soon. Those days are likely over for a while, and I, like Krauthammer, am relieved.