- 09 ноября 2016, 17:27
- POLITICO. Top Stories
There is no plan at the White House.
They also never thought this could or would happen.
President Barack Obama and his aides throughout the federal government have 10 weeks to nail anything and everything they can down, a crisis in management they’ll need to handle amid a crisis in politics, faith, the economy and the world order.
But they’ve already lost the chance to lock in Obama’s vision of America, one that is educated and pragmatist, multicultural, cosmopolitan and globalist.
Obama said for months on the campaign trail that he’d consider Donald Trump’s election a personal repudiation. And it was. The Senate and House results leave no question, as if there could be one.
A reality has slipped through their fingers. Four more years of a Democrat in the White House would make much of how Obama reshaped the government irreversible. A woman following a black man would drive home how there was no turning back to the old ways. Filling that Supreme Court seat would cement it for a generation.
Tuesday’s stunner is about Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings, and in retrospect, about the absurd clearing of the Democratic field for a candidate deeply flawed. But it is more about the reality of a country that not even many of Trump’s aides and supporters appeared to fully grasp.
That country is every battleground state Trump swept through, despite not having the sophisticated data and turnout operations, despite not having all of the demographic advantages that many in both parties, the media and everywhere else believed through Tuesday evening might keep Republicans from winning a presidential election unless and until it completed a major reconstruction.
“Never been as wrong on anything on my life,” tweeted Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, who had been advising Clinton’s campaign throughout. “Sobriety about what happened tonight is essential".
Obama called Trump to congratulate Trump, and they will meet at the White House on Thursday.
Wednesday, according to a statement by his press secretary, he’ll “make a statement at the White House to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season.”
On top of all the other factors, never has there been such raw and clear mutual personal hatred and dismissal between two presidents. Trump was elected president on the back of the years he spent delegitimizing Obama. Obama has spent years denigrating Trump in return, and focused on proactively delegitimizing a Trump presidency he never thought was a real possibility. Now these are the men who will have to join together to lead the most difficult, and arguably most important, transfer of power America has ever faced.
“The most shocking part of tonight is the number of people who approve of Obama but didn't vote for Hillary Clinton,” tweeted former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer after the results came in—but that in itself may be a skewed portrait: the same polls that showed soaring approval for Obama showed Clinton winning at least 100 more electoral votes than she did, and being the president-elect who’d meet with Obama at the White House on Thursday.
The plan was for Obama to stay in Washington for at least two years, moving to a house a few miles away while his younger daughter finished high school. Either that plan will change, or that home will likely become the base of a government in exile, a Democratic Party that has apparently lost touch with the country, and not been, in fact, more in touch with it than Republicans ever wanted to admit, as Obama would constantly argue.
The Clintons may have some role in shaping the future of the party, but Obama is likely to be the one whom many Democrats will turn to as the leader that, as his role and the response he generated all year demonstrated, they wished could have run again instead. And there will no doubt be renewed calls in some quarters for Michelle Obama, who could run though her husband constitutionally cannot, to look at 2020 as the saving grace. The Democrats don’t have much of a bench, and the strength of Trump’s win makes clear that they will have to go into the next four years with more than confidence in shifting demographics. But she does not want to run, and with or without her there is obviously a need for much more than that baseline thinking.
“There is no moving to Canada. If you are committed to justice & fairness in US, real people need your heart & fight here now more than ever,” tweeted former Clinton and Obama top economic aide Gene Sperling on Wednesday morning.
This was supposed to be an I-don’t-want-this-so-I-guess-I’ll-take-that election. No. America really wanted Trump to be its 45th president, as little as Obama and so many others can believe it or understand it.
“We have to figure out why, what’s eating at them,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday night at his final campaign stop, in what he thought was preparing Clinton supporters to be gracious winners. “Some of it will be unacceptable, but some of it will be about hard truths about our country and about our economy.”
The trauma of the 2008 financial collapse and of electing the first black president was severe, more severe than anyone imagined, but only the beginning of the explanation.
This campaign revealed and exacerbated the depth of America’s divisions in ways that Democrats especially couldn’t believe existed.
Trump “sensed the fear, and sensed the anxiety, and he fanned the flames of that negativity and that division,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday night, when Clinton still seemed en route to a win. “He thought it was going to drive us apart and find an enemy.”
That was how Democrats saw this campaign into the final hours. They were right, and they were wrong.