At an event in Houston at Rice University’s Baker Institute, President Obama hammered Donald Trump, accusing him of “capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years”. Obama also warned Americans that the current White House is creating global instability due to its dysfunction, and compared his indictment free presidency to Trump's criminal ridden operation.
“Not only did I not get indicted, nobody in my administration got indicted," said Obama. "Which by the way was the only administration in modern history that that can be said about. In fact, nobody came close to being indicted, partly because the people who joined us were there for the right reasons. We were there to serve.”
After speaking out against Trump for the first time in September of this year, it is clear Obama is getting increasingly worried about the Trump administration. At the event in Houston, Obama also offered pointed criticism of not only the White House, but the media infrastructure that helped Trump get elected.
“In 1981, your news cycle was still governed by the stories that were going to be filed by the AP, Washington Post, maybe New York Times, and the three broadcast stations,” Obama said.
"Whether people got their news from Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley, they tended to agree on a common set of facts. That set a baseline around which both parties had to adapt and respond to."
“By the time I take office, what you increasingly have is a media environment in which, if you are a Fox News viewer, you have an entirely different reality than if you are a New York Times reader.”
Combined with globalization, and what Obama called “the politics of resentment and paranoia" found in the Republican party, America now finds itself under the rule of a madman -- a uniquely dangerous predicament given the country's role in maintaining global stability.
“People ask me what surprised me most about the presidency," said Obama. "It is the degree to which the United States underwrites the international order. If there is a problem around the world, people do not call Moscow, they do not call Beijing. They call Washington. Even our adversaries expect us to solve problems and expect us to keep things running."
“When you start getting dysfunction in Washington," he continued, "which [makes it] difficult for decisions to get made and policymaking to run in an orderly process, what is one of our greatest assets – which is an extraordinary civil service, career staff, let’s say at the state department – when that begins to get undermined, that doesn’t just weaken our influence, it provides opportunities for disorder to start ramping up all around the world and ultimately makes us less safe and less prosperous.”
With the hugely dysfunctional Trump administration embroiled in scandal after scandal, the basic functioning of governance is basically collapsing. No one with any credibility wants to work in the White House, there are hundreds of key jobs vacant, morale continues to plummet, and many of Trump's associates are facing potential jail time. This is not how the government of the most powerful country on the planet should be operating, and the cumulative effect is destroying the standing of America around the world.
Obama's remarks on the "different reality" Trump supporters and the GOP live in is an indication he is no longer interested in placating them. By defining the political landscape like this, he now appears to see this as a fight between reality and fantasy. For months Obama remained silent as the Trump administration laid waste to everything he had accomplished while in office. Now it appears he isn't going to take it any more and will counter Trump's lies with the truth. While this may not make any difference to Trump supporters, it does for everyone else. Obama's voice will be greatly needed in the coming months and years, and Americans concerned about the fate of their country now know they have a powerful ally.