The game’s over Mr President – and your team lost. End your Trump temper tantrum and show some dignity
What’s Barry’s game?
That’s the question many of President Obama’s basketball opponents have asked over the years as Barack hurtled himself around the court in the final minutes of a match.
From all accounts he could be a mean, nasty sonofabitch in those final few seconds, especially if his team was losing.
The answer to my question is thus self-evident: to win at all costs.
That ethos made Obama a very competitive basketball player, and a very effective politician.
But it is currently causing many Americans to ask: ‘At what cost?’
Obama’s spent the past few weeks charging around like a guy who’s watching the clock tick down and is desperate to snatch some semblance of victory from the jaws of a crushing, humiliating defeat.
Since the election, as the New York Times reported, he’s banned oil drilling off the Atlantic coast, named over 100 people to a range of senior government jobs, created new environmental monuments, commuted the sentences of 232 inmates and pardoned 78 others, protected funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, ordered the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay and blocked new Israeli settlements.
As some critics sneer, it’s more governing than he’s done in eight years.
In his most dramatic action, Obama claimed Russia swung the election Trump’s way by hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails and leaking them to Wikileaks to destroy her campaign.
He retaliated by throwing out a load of Russian diplomats.
The fact Obama produced no hard evidence to substantiate this very serious claim didn’t seem to matter to the former constitutional law expert.
Nor did it seem to cross his mind that the really damaging part was the content of Hillary and her team’s explosive emails, not the fact we could all read them.
Oh, and of course there was the small matter of Hillary secretly setting up her own private email server to avoid any of that annoying judicial scrutiny that normally comes with being a high-ranking member of the US Government.
The President’s purpose by blaming Russia is crystal clear: as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview that airs tonight, it was to ‘delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House.’
Assange said he was ‘1000%’ confident Vladimir Putin’s Russian government had not hacked the DNC emails.
‘Our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,’ he said.
But it suits Obama’s game to say that it was all down to Putin because it distracts from the real reason.
Donald Trump didn’t win the presidency because of Russia, emails, FBI Director James Comey or the weather in Michigan.
He won because, according to reputable polls before the November 8 vote, 70% of Americans felt their country was going in the wrong direction.
There can be few more damning denunciations of an 8-year White House tenure than two-thirds of the country saying they believe the USA is going backwards, not forwards.
Obama’s personal approval ratings have been high recently because he seems like a nice guy. He’s intelligent, eloquent, makes great speeches, sings like Al Green, and has that wonderfully infectious beaming grin.
But Obama wasn’t elected to be just a pretty face who could make us laugh.
He was elected because he promised the ‘audacity of hope’.
That fresh-faced firebrand who made history in 2009 by becoming the first black president vowed to change America forever; make it less divided, more inclusive.
‘Yes. We. Can!’ was his mantra.
Only it turned out to be more ‘No. We. Can’t.’
His senior adviser Valerie Jarrett had people choking on their cornflakes on Sunday when she absurdly claimed that ‘dignified’ Obama’s greatest pride was in avoidance of any scandal during his presidency.
What about the Benghazi fiasco?
Or the IRS shambles?
Or the Obamacare disintegration?
Or the shameful broken promises to the Sandy Hook families about new gun laws?
Or the failure to stop Putin and Assad’s monstrous behaviour in Syria?
I could go on, but there genuinely isn’t enough room in one column to cite all the things that have happened on Obama’s watch that could constitute a ‘scandal’.
Oh, he’s kept his trousers up and hasn’t taken any of the illegal drugs he loved as a teenager.
But as we saw with Bill Clinton and JFK, most Americans don’t really care what their presidents get up to their own time.
They care how much their president helps them to lead better lives.
And on that scale, Obama’s been very disappointing.
Not least in the manner of his departure.
President George W. Bush, for all his many faults, was extraordinarily magnanimous towards Obama himself during their transition period.
In fact, he is widely regarded as having been the most generous and solicitous outgoing presidents in history.
And he’s continued to be so ever since, never popping up above the ex-president parapet to berate, rebuke or attack his successor.
Instead, Dubya sensibly retreated into the sidings, understanding that the job is difficult enough without the previous incumbent making it even harder.
Obama, by contrast, seems intent on making the transition to a Trump administration as poisonous and unhelpful as he possibly can.
Obama hates Trump and everything he stands for, and knows that Trump will get rid of, or radically change, most of his signature policies – from Obamacare to the Iran nuclear deal.
That will potentially wreck his legacy.
So the stakes for Obama personally are very high right now.
Hence the highly unusual, frantic series of New Year tweets stating precisely why he has been so successful.
It was almost Trump-like in its boastfulness.
Yet it signified the depth of worry lurking in the pit of Obama’s stomach.
Yes he killed Bin Laden, yes he stopped America careering into an even bigger financial abyss after the 2008 crash, yes he got unemployment back to a reasonable level, and yes he’s legalized gay marriage and cannabis.
But the charge sheet against Obama remains that he promised so much and delivered, relatively speaking, so little.
He talked the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk. Something that President-elect Trump once told me is ‘an act that doesn’t play.’
Obama’s messianic halo has crumbled, revealing just another politician who thought he could change the world and ended up changing not very much at all.
His America is not discernibly better than the one George W. Bush handed to him. It remains just as bitterly divided, racially toxic and economically unequal as it was before.
We know it, he knows it, and this election result proved it.
It was a repudiation of Obama as much as Hillary.
Now, as the final buzzer sounds, Mr Nice Guy is showing his true colours and morphing into the mean, nasty basketball player who hates the fact his team’s getting Trumped and is doing anything he can to stop it happening.
It’s too late, Mr President.
The game’s over.
Your team lost.
So get over it and start behaving with some of the damn dignity that your aides keep bragging about.