Improvisation has never been Barack Obama’s strong suit, and this failing was on full display in last week’s back-from-Elba speech denouncing President Trump.
The improvised line that will haunt Obama down the road went like this, “How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.”
No, saying Nazis is bad is easy, too easy to bother doing. Who knows a Nazi? What is harder, especially for Obama, is saying that the various communists, terrorists, Hitler lovers and racists who have shaped his character are bad.
To move from obscure Chicago pol to prominent national figure Barack Obama had to bury his un-American past and his radical roots and recreate himself as a red-blooded, All-American middle-of-the-roader.
With the media’s help, Obama suppressed his relationship with his Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, his radical Hyde Park pals Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi, and his deranged pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Davis, he never disowned. He never had to. No one in the media ever asked. Khalidi was not much harder. The Los Angeles Times conveniently buried the videotape it acquired of Obama singing Khalidi’s praises.
Then too there was Obama’s affection for the Hitler-loving Louis Farrakhan, which shone through most notably in a 2005 photo of the smiling duo. This career-killing photo too was conveniently buried by a friendly “journalist” until 2018.
Ayers and Wright presented more problems. In an April 2008 primary debate, moderator and former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos blindsided candidate Obama with a question he was not expecting from a fellow Democrat.
On the “general theme of patriotism” Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his ties to Bill Ayers. “He was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s,” Stephanopoulos reminded the younger members of his audience. “They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.”
He then asked Obama, “Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?”
Upon gathering himself, Obama answered Stephanopoulos, “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from (sic) on a regular basis.”
Obama then proceeded to hector Stephanopoulos for asking a question about a man who “engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old.”
To suggest that this relationship somehow reflected on him and his values, huffed Obama, “doesn’t make much sense.” Obama was not the only indignant party that evening. One pundit after another joined him in scolding Stephanopoulos for daring to ask about an “obscure ’60s radical” like Ayers.
No one in the major media made a serious inquiry into whether Obama was telling the truth. He was not. As liberal biographer David Garrow has since revealed, the Obamas, the Khalidis and Ayers and his terrorist wife Bernardine Dohrn dined together regularly.
Wright caused Obama the most problems. In March 2008, Obama had to pull out all the stops to neutralize the fallout from the recently surfaced sermons delivered by his wild-eyed pastor.
In his thoroughly finessed Philadelphia speech, immodestly titled “A More Perfect Union,” Obama reminded those few registered voters who might somehow have forgotten, “I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.”
This story of his own upbringing seared into Obama’s “genetic makeup” the idea that “this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.” The bottom line, said Obama: “I can no more disown Wright than I can disown the black community.”
The speech wowed Obama’s white liberal supporters and silenced his critics. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, his legs a-tingle, celebrated it as “worthy of Lincoln” and “the best speech on race ever given in this country.”
Obama’s promise not to disown his pastor lasted just 40 days and 40 nights. Unfortunately for Obama, Wright kept saying what he always had been saying.
After a speech at the National Press Club in late April 2008, a reporter asked Wright whether he truly believed that the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.
Said Wright, “I believe our government is capable of doing anything.”
Obama had been attending Wright’s church with some regularity for 20 years. Wright officiated at Obama’s marriage to Michelle. He baptized Obama’s children.
Yet when faced with the fallout of the HIV quote, Obama claimed that he had never seen this side of Wright before. “The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” he said indignantly and dishonestly.
Oh, no? In fact, just 20 years earlier an equally deranged Wright sermon moved Obama to become Christian, or something like it.
That sermon, “The Audacity to Hope,” featured classic Wright gems like “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” a line that Obama approvingly quoted in “Dreams.” Ten years later, Obama would name his second book, more or less, after the sermon.
It is likely that Trump has never met a Nazi, but Obama has known Nazi-lovers, racists, communists and terrorists, and he has denounced them only when he had to.
It would have been less politic but more honorable had he not denounced them at all.