How Hillary and the President Can Gang Up to Beat Trump
When President Obama went on record during the height of the Republican primaries saying that Donald Trump "will not be President of the United States," like many of us he could not have guessed how close Trump really was to the nomination. But, hey, if Michel Martelly, the singer known as Sweet Micky who often performed in a diaper, could be elected president of Haiti in 2011, anything is possible anywhere else in the world, including here in America.
But where does that leave Obama? For starters, on the clock, and if he wants to make sure history doesn't force him to eat his own words, he will do anything and everything during the general election campaign to get Hillary Clinton elected. The absolute last thing in the world Obama wants to do is share his last ride as president with Donald Trump. Just picture the two men seated side by side in the back seat of the presidential limo, on their way from the White House to the Capitol building on January 20, 2017.
When the last such ride took place in 2009, George W. Bush could not have been surprised that Obama had handily defeated John McCain, so one would suspect that during their ride the two men shared pleasantries about wives and children, hopes for the country, and the dignified greatness of how power passes in America.
But come this January, can you imagine Obama in that back seat with Trump? Such a notion must keep Obama up at night. What would they say to each other? I doubt Trump would come right out and ask for the nuclear codes, but you never know. He'd probably open with something like, "Wow." (Trump starts practically every sentence with "Wow.") "Your hair is so much grayer than it looks on television."
This would provide Obama the perfect opening to make a comment about Trump's hair. "Donald, you can probably look forward to having tan hair."
"Excuse me." (Another of Trump's favorite expressions, usually uttered when the exchange isn't going his way.)
"Just ask your hair colorist. When a man of your age insists on having his hair repeatedly dyed to look like a cross between Gwen Stefani and an overripe cantaloupe, there will come a time when the color no longer holds, in your case resulting in tan hair."
"How do you know that?"
"As President, you have to know everything, which might be a handicap for you starting out."
"I play to a 4."
"I guess Michelle was right. There is something in life you're better than me at - golf. Even if you cheat, which I heard you do."
Obama can avoid sharing his last ride and any conversation with Trump, but only if he works his ass off on the campaign trail for Hillary. Obama is much more important to Hillary's future right now than is her husband. She recently said that she would like her husband to oversee the economy. Big mistake. Bill Clinton is old news. The sight of the Clintons campaigning together is old news. Donald Trump is mistaken if he thinks he's the reason Jeb Bush had no traction with voters during the primaries. Like Barbara Bush had correctly predicted, America simply grew tired of the Bushes, just as they've grown tired of the Clintons. If Hillary is smart, she'll pack Bill off to Africa or somewhere so he can spend the summer and early fall helping impoverished people through his Clinton Global Initiative. Al Gore lost the election in 2000 because he failed to utilize Bill Clinton on the campaign trail. Sixteen years later, Hillary Clinton could lose this election because she continues to prop up Bill.
It's Barack Obama she needs at her side. His recent spike in popularity is not an accident. Despite what Trump and a lot of Republicans in Congress say, America really likes Obama. They like what he says and how he says it. They like his wife and children. They like his gracefulness. They like that he can sing like Al Green. They like that he can deliver one-liners with the best of them. And in time, I predict, they're going to look back and say this guy was really, really good.
But now it's time for him to do what he does best: campaign. In a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine piece, Andrew Ross Sorkin predicted that Obama once out of office would join the business sector. Obama even joked last month at the White House Correspondents Dinner that he could try out his new material next year when he joins Goldman Sachs.
"Earn me some serious Tubmans," was how he put it.
In time Obama will surely get his serious Tubmans, not to mention a lot of the Andrew Jacksons still out there. But I don't think the spigot will be turned as quickly as next year. For one thing, Obama will probably be hanging around Washington much longer, especially with his daughter Malia taking a reported "gap year" before she attends Harvard.
As great as it will be for Hillary to have Obama around for her campaign, it will be even better if he remains close by during her first term. It's been said that Hillary is campaigning for "Obama's third term," and while she deserves a little more credit than that, a third Obama term would be much better for the country than a Trump first term.
But Obama can carry Hillary only so far. They won't allow him to be on stage with her during the debates, and so Mr. President, I'll have to take it from here.
The first debate, which should have better ratings than the Neil Armstrong moon landing, the Academy Awards, or any number of Super Bowls, will decide the election. In fact, it's only one issue during the first debate that will decide the election, and it's all about the circumstances surrounding a certain stain on a White House intern's blue dress.
Trump has painted himself into a corner. He has to pry open Bill Clinton's infidelities because his supporters want him to go for the jugular. If he doesn't, he risks losing a lot of them and with it the election. They want him to be the Donald Trump of the primaries. Nothing less will satisfy them, and nobody knows that better than him, which is why he's already said he will bring up the subject.
It's Hillary's response that will determine whether she wins or loses. For many years now, she has successfully avoided questions relating to her husband's past indiscretions, and that's a good thing - for now. But come the first debate, when Trump will surely be expecting her to once again deflect such unconscionable probing, and with millions and millions of viewers literally sitting on the edge of their seats, she has to do something very different. She must in a very classy way throw her husband under the bus, which he probably wouldn't mind if it means her winning. She has to say in essence that Trump is sadly mistaken if he thinks Bill Clinton came away from his transgressions without a marital scratch. She has to speak of taking him to the woodshed and carrying on about how he embarrassed her, their daughter, and the entire country. And that if he stepped out of line again, she and not he would ultimately be the one winding up with all those serious Tubmans and Jacksons.
"You bet I let him know it," she could say on the debate stage. "And because of what I said, he's been a total gentleman and a markedly different husband ever since."
It would probably take a while for the applause to die down, but once it became Trump's turn to speak, if he couldn't right at that moment produce a new version of Monica Lewinsky or Jennifer Flowers, the race is over. The only thing left to add up will be how much she wins by.
And then the scene in the back seat of the limo in January might look something like this:
"Well, Barack, we did it."
"We sure did. I can't wait to see Bill. How did he like Africa?"
"He negotiated the water rights for Malawi, which for him is like going to heaven."
"He always was the king of minutiae."
Laughter in the back seat..... and Fade Out.