Over the last couple of months, President Obama has taken a number of chances to criticize Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. While remaining more or less silent on the Democratic race, Obama seems to relish the opportunity to offer his opinions on Trump. And with some of the highest approval numbers he’s had in years, the president hopes that his message will carry some weight.
At a nuclear safety summit last week, Obama said that Trump’s rhetoric on atomic weapons was dangerous. He told reporters that Trump had proven that he knew little about nuclear weaponry, the Korean peninsula, and, indeed, the world generally. On Tuesday, he reiterated that Trump was harming America’s image in the world.
“I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made,” he said. He characterized Trump’s plan to confiscate remittance payments to Mexico as “half-baked” and predicted that it would lead to a surge in illegal immigration.
Which…you just have to laugh. For this president to warn that any policy might lead to a surge in illegal immigration…where do you buy guts like that? Where do you get the audacity?
Besides, that’s the whole point of the wall, dummy.
Obama has said repeatedly that he has “too much faith” in the American people to believe that Trump could possibly be president. Where does that faith come from, though? If he thinks that Trump is more sizzle than steak, he might ponder the obvious fact that the American people have (twice) fallen for that kind of candidate. If he thinks that Trump doesn’t know enough about foreign policy, he might explain what makes his own disastrous policies any better. If he’s so concerned about nuclear weapons, why did he sign a deal that puts Iran on a path to the bomb?
Still, don’t underestimate Obama’s influence. His name may be poison in conservative circles, but he is popular with 90% of Democrats. If Trump has a secret weapon going into a general election, it could be his ability to pull independents and Democrats over to our side. But depending on how Obama’s message lands, that strategy may not play out as some Trump supporters hope.
Perhaps because of the unusual course of the Republican primaries, there has been very little discussion of Obama on the right. That’s a mistake that both Trump and Ted Cruz should rectify in the coming months. They may not be running against him in the fall – but in a sense, they will be. Hillary Clinton has done everything but say outright that her presidency will be a third Obama term. On some level, this election should be a referendum on his wretched tenure.