Did you ever read an op-ed piece that made you so angry, you wanted to rip it up and flush it down the toilet? I did, yesterday—not once, but twice.
The first was called “Does a ‘Never Trumper’ need to be forgiven?” and was in the National Review. It was authored by Jonah Goldberg. A right-wing Republican, Goldberg was not for Trump during the campaigns. He admits upfront he was “wrong” in believing Trump could not win the nomination, or the election if he were nominated—which puts him in the same category as a lot of us. He admits also that his chief concern was Trump’’s “character,” which he describes as “unrestrained ego, impoverished impulse-control and contempt for policy due diligence…Character is destiny,” he warns.
OK, so far, so good…right track, Jonah!
But then, Goldberg goes off the rails. Just when I thought that maybe, just maybe there’s hope for a Tea Party radical to occasionally stumble into the truth, Goldberg undermines his own argument by stating that Trump’s “Cabinet appointments and policy proposals [are] reassuring.” Trump, he claims, “has surrounded himself with some serious and sober-minded people who will try to constrain and contain the truly dangerous aspects of his character.”
How’s that again? After assuring us of Trump’s dangerous character, he tells us, hey, Trump may be psychotic, he may be a lunatic with his finger on the nuclear codes, but not to worry, because he’s surrounded by sober-minded people–like Newt Gingrich? The religious extremist David Friedman? Rick “Ooops” Perry? Doctor Ben Carson, who doesn’t believe in evolution? Jeff Sessions, the alleged racist? Steve Bannon, the white nationalist? Rex Tillerson, who makes his money off bromancing Putin? I suppose some “good Germans” convinced themselves in the 1930s that Hitler, who everyone knew was mad, couldn’t do much harm because he surrounded himself with “sober-minded people” like Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop.
Look, Jonah Goldberg, if you had the awareness to discern Trump’s mental sickness, then nothing gives you the right to predict everything will be okay because he’s surrounded by sober-minded people. You knew during the campaign that Trump was unfit to be president. You know he still is. You’re either fooling yourself with these lame excuses, or you’re hoping to earn your way into his good graces so you’ll get invited to press conferences and state dinners. But then, consider the source: Jonah Goldberg is the son of Lucianne Goldberg, who from the 1970s to the 1990s was one of the nastiest right-wing activists in the country, a spy who infiltrated McGovern’s campaign to discredit it, and the woman who talked Linda Tripp into bringing her Monica Lewinsky tapes to the abominable Kenneth Starr. Jonah, her son, was raised in this poisonous atmosphere of sexual obsession and hatred for liberal democracy; he worked alongside his mother to bring about Clinton’s impeachment, and now is a denizen of the worst right-wing rags in the country. This is clearly a man who isn’t running on all cylinders; one feels almost sorry for him these days, having alienated himself from his own party and, apparently, from his own conscience. As Trump might tweet, #Pathetic.
The other article—even worse—is by the foremost Clinton and Obama hater of our generation, Karl Rove. It was in the Wall Street Journal and was called “A Preview of Obama’s Post-Presidency.” When I saw the headline, I thought, this could be interesting. Perhaps Rove will speculate, in a genuinely historical way, about what Obama might do, comparing him to other former presidents, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (both admirable ex-POTUSes) and George W. Bush, who seems to do nothing but hang out in Crawford and occasionally give a paid speech.
But no, Rove just can’t get that lump of hatred out of his sphincter. Instead of something intellectual, in the very first sentence Rove calls Obama “whiny, self-justifying, and bursting with excuses.” And that’s just for starters. In the last sentence, Rove predicts Obama will be “a carping, persistent presence in our nation’s capital.” As for the nonsense in between the opening and closing sentences, it’s nothing but a screed of vile insults.
All I will say is that President Obama’s job approval rating in the third week of December, according to Real Clear Politics, was 53.6 percent, higher than both Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s when they left office. (And let’s not forget Michelle Obama, another frequent target of Rove’s character assassinations, whose approval rating was much higher than her husband’s, an amazing 66 percent.)
Rove knows, I know, and you know (although Trump may not) that Obama is going to go down in the history books as a major president—and Republicans will be vilified for their obstructionism and racism. If history records Rove at all in some footnote, it will be as a partisan attack dog of the far right who developed the skills (since mastered by Trump) of lies, innuendo and disinformation, from his first political campaign to the dirty work he did for George W. Bush, who Rove also knows will be ranked by historians in the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. The last thing Rove wants is an articulate former Democratic president, particularly a black man, having a voice of influence in coming years, who is trusted by wide majorities of Americans. That, I would argue, is exactly what we need–and there is no better person to fulfill it than Barack Obama.