U.S. President Barack Obama speaks while meeting with President-elect Donald Trump following a meeting in the Oval Office Nov. 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. 
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

Trump can’t let go of his preoccupation with Obama

Donald Trump didn’t have a whole lot to say about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report yesterday afternoon, though the president did get around to sharing a predictable thought via Twitter: he blamed his predecessor.

“Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President. He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected.”

Nearly everything in Trump’s tweet was wrong. The vote was affected. Barack Obama did a lot more than “nothing,” and he would’ve done more were it not for Mitch McConnell’s opposition. The “anything the Russians did…” suggests Trump may still have some doubts as to the nature of the Russians’ attack, which is an issue that does not lend itself to skepticism.

But routine nonsense is less interesting to me than Trump’s ongoing preoccupation with the president who preceded him. I thought it was at least possible that the Republican, in time, would stop obsessing over the recent past, but by some measures, Trump fixates on Obama nearly as much as Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday, for example, Trump blamed Obama for the Russia attack. Earlier this week, Trump made up a story about hearing from a “big tough guy” who was “crying” because Obama ruined his life. Last week, Trump focused his attention on his approval rating – as compared to Obama’s.

Earlier that day, Trump tried to defend his family-separation policy by falsely claiming it was actually Obama’s policy. Four days earlier, Trump went after Joe Biden by condemning Obama.

Three days earlier, Trump told the National Republican Congressional Committee, “By the way, the carbon and all of the things flying up in the air, you know, the carbon footprint? President Obama used to talk about the carbon footprint and he’d hop on Air Force One, a big 747 with very old engines, and he’d fly to Hawaii to play a round of golf. Now, you tell me, the carbon footprint. But that’s the way it is.”

Obama, incidentally, never flew to Hawaii solely to play a round of golf.

The week before that, Trump suggested Obama was responsible for orchestrating a conspiratorial scheme against the Republican campaign in 2016.

I’m reminded of this Politico piece from two years ago which highlighted the Republican’s “obsession.”

Donald Trump just can’t quit Barack Obama.

From entering politics as the chief promoter of the birtherism conspiracy – complete with claims of mysterious calls coming in to him with new information to detectives he claimed he sent to Hawaii but were never heard from again – to waking up Saturday morning tweeting, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones,” Obama’s always there for Trump.

Two years later, is anyone prepared to argue that Trump’s focus has changed?

As we discussed a while back, at a certain level, I can understand the fixation. Obama was a successful, popular president, whose stature appears even greater when compared to his successor.

But that’s all the more reason for Trump to choose a different foil.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump

Trump can't let go of his preoccupation with Obama