Trump has been expressing his hatred for Obama for years now. It is not a recent problem.
One doesn’t build a presidential legacy overnight. When relations between one president and his successor are bad, it can badly hurt the hard-fought results of a former commander-in-chief.
Case in point: President Donald Trump has gone to great lengths to dismantle Barack Obama’s policy legacy. It is possibly the most obvious example of disdain between any two men selected to lead the country back-to-back.
But is Trump’s diatribe against Obama merely another case of the impulsive leader reacting? You don’t have to look hard to see that it’s not. Obama and Trump have had awkward interactions for years leading up to Trump assuming the presidency.
Going Back to the Birther Movement
As easy targets go, Donald Trump doesn’t do himself any favors. He’s quick to make a critical remark, and holds onto a grudge forever.
When then-president Obama addressed the crowd at the White House Correspondents’ dinner in 2011, he probably knew this about Trump. Serving his second term as a popular president with a sterling reputation, Obama evidently overestimated the intelligence of his fellow Americans and their competence in choosing good presidential candidates.
At the time, Trump was leading the “birther” charge against Obama, a largely racially driven movement intended to assert the president was unfit to lead, based on an unfounded rumor he was born in Kenya. Obama seized the opportunity to take a few potshots at his combover-wearing rival. The look on Trump’s face made it clear he wanted revenge.
Then It Got Weird
Of course, Obama, and probably also Trump, never expected to see Trump win the presidency. Even though he’d already announced his candidacy at the time, the prospect of Trump winning seemed ludicrous. And then he won.
You can imagine the delight Trump must have felt at the opportunity to exact his revenge for Obama’s jokes. In the year since his election, Trump has taken credit for anything good that came out of Obama’s administration, and taken a sledgehammer to his progressive policy wins.
Driving His Point Home
Even in the early days of his presidency, Trump claimed credit for the positive economy and low unemployment rate he inherited. At the same time, he was already boasting of a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a capstone piece of Obama-era legislation conservatives hated.
However, Obamacare has proven more of a challenge than the GOP had hoped, and they have had to settle for merely maiming the quasi-socialistic health program. Looking for a fresh new target from the Obama White House, Trump set his gaze on DACA, the “dreamer” program that allows children of immigrants born in the United States to remain in this country.
While Trump appears to want to trade DACA for his fascist anti-Mexican wall of terror, the last remaining functional branch of America’s government — the judicial branch — has once again stepped in to uphold sanity for the time being while Trump stews. Like their interference with the various incarnations of Trump’s travel ban, it is difficult to know how effective opposition from judges will be.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
It would probably be accurate to assume Trump would have tried to overshadow the efforts of anyone who came before him as president. Trump is a character who operates almost entirely on base impulses; and his need to dominate others makes it imperative for him to see himself as superior to the president who came before him.
No better example of this exists than in Trump’s Time magazine cover shout-outs. Despite Trump being quick to share when the illustrious publication named him its “Man of the Year” in 2016, he appeared to lie about not being selected in 2017.
He tweeted, “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”
However, Time later released a statement challenging what the president said about how they select the person of the year. Obama and family appeared on the cover of the magazine 15 times over their eight-year term in the White House, a fact Obama’s former photographer was quick to point out in response to Trump’s tweet.
No Love Lost
Trump would have had it out for anyone who came before him, but Obama was a shoe-in for Trump’s misdirected angry energy. He endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, advanced progressive ideas that don’t sit well with Trump’s Neo-Nazi fan club and earned widespread love and respect from people Trump struggles to understand. Obama exercised diplomacy during the transitional period when Trump was moving into the White House, but things like that tend to mean very little to a man like Donald Trump.