On the day Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, I announced on my national radio show that, "While I did not vote for Barack Obama, he is my president, and I wish him well." I added that I was delighted a black man had been elected president of the United States, that perhaps this would not only help black-white relations get even better than they were but also help put to rest the notion of a racist America.
As it turned out, neither hope was achieved. In fact, in large measure due to Obama, race relations deteriorated during his presidency. Obama turned out to be Black Lives Matter Light. As Politico wrote in 2014, Al Sharpton, perhaps the most consistent race-baiter of the last half-century, "became Obama's go-to man on race." According to The Washington Post, Sharpton visited the Obama White House 72 times.
Obama is idolized by liberals and leftists because he was an activist liberal whose goal, in his own words, right before he was first elected, was "fundamentally transforming the United States of America." And because they love his cool, even-tempered, regal style.
That style masks a demagoguery that far surpasses our current president. It was on display last week when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
Obama: "I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did. ... Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't."
These ad hominem attacks by a previous president on his successor are unique in my lifetime. Perhaps they are unique in modern American history. George W. Bush, for example, never said a critical word of Barack Obama, despite the latter's frequent attacks on Bush's presidency.
Obama: "And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone."
America ranks tenth in deaths per million. Are the greater proportion of deaths per million in countries such as Belgium, Spain, the U.K., Italy and Sweden the result of corrupt and/or inept leaders? Was President Donald Trump responsible, for example, for the decision made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 cases, causing the virus to sweep through the elderly in those facilities, resulting in at least 6,000 deaths (and likely many more that New York is hiding from the official count)?
Regarding "millions of jobs gone," they are gone overwhelmingly because of the lockdowns ordered by state governors and mayors, not the virus. Lockdowns, we were told, would last two weeks to "flatten the curve," but they continue six months later in many Democratically controlled cities and states.
Obama: "And our democratic institutions threatened like never before."
Obama offers not one example of this or of his many other attacks on Trump. There is a reason. Obama has always attacked straw men. During his presidency, I analyzed about 20 of his speeches. They and his off-the-cuff comments were always characterized by straw-men arguments.
Even The New York Times, in 2009, when it still published occasional articles that deviated from the left, featured an article by Helene Cooper (who is black), its then-White House correspondent, titled "Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw." In it, Cooper cited example after example of statements ostensibly made by others, but actually made up by Obama -- which he then proceeded to shoot down. This characterized his approach to discourse throughout his presidency and continued with last week's speech at the DNC.
Obama: "Joe and Kamala will restore our standing in the world -- and as we've learned from this pandemic, that matters."
Obama, like all on the left, equate America's "standing in the world" with its president's standing with the left. Nonleftists do not. Last year, when the courageous Hong Kong demonstrators waved a flag representing liberty, they waved the flag of the United States of America. Apparently, America's standing with them is pretty high.
Obama: "(Joe and Kamala) believe that in a democracy, the right to vote is sacred."
Another straw man. Who doesn't believe "the right to vote is sacred" -- those who insist on people having an ID when they vote, as voters do in virtually every other country? Or is it those who don't believe in sending tens of millions of ballots to people who never signed up to receive an absentee ballot?
Obama: "I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there's still a place for him here."
Really? What new legal immigrant thinks that way? Or is Obama dishonestly conflating legal with illegal immigrants? The answer is, of course, he is (though even illegal immigrants apparently believe there's a place for them here; isn't that, after all, why they come?).
Obama: "This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that's what it takes to win."
How has this administration shown that? Why didn't Obama provide a single example to sustain this extraordinary charge? Anyway, it seems to many Americans that those who lie to the country for two years about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, impeach a president solely for political reasons, dedicate all news reporting to the removal of a president, smear and lie about a decent man nominated for the Supreme Court, corrupt the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act system for political ends, and politicize the CIA and FBI are the ones who "will tear our democracy down if that's what it takes to win."
Obama's speech offered very little of substance about the man it was directed against, but it said much about the man who delivered it.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, "No Safe Spaces," will be released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.