Matt Taibbi: When Trump’s President, Americans Will Better Understand Obama’s ‘Humanity and Greatness’

November 18th, 2016 5:52 PM

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has started what amounts to a premature “Miss Me Yet?” meme for President Obama, and he recommends that question be answered “yes.” In a Friday piece, Taibbi opined, “Donald Trump may have won the White House, but he will never be a man like his predecessor, whose personal example will now only shine more brightly with the passage of time. At a time when a lot of Americans feel like they have little to be proud of, we should think about our outgoing president, whose humanity and greatness are probably only just now coming into true focus.”

Taibbi doesn’t think an administration headed by the “race-baiting” Trump “will end up staining or outright repudiating [Obama’s] legacy…I think it will be the other way around. Trump's presidency is almost sure to throw the best qualities of this unique and powerful historical figure into relief. [Obama] has been the great model for young men of his generation. And ten years from now, when the millions of young people who grew up during his presidency start to enter the workforce and become leaders and parents, we'll see more clearly what he meant to this country.”

The challenges for Obama, wrote Taibbi, began on Day One, as he “enter[ed] the White House as the first African-American president at a time when the economy was in ruins and the culture war was spiraling out of control…He also had to manage this while somehow not allowing himself to be rattled by the torrent of abuse he received.”

During Obama’s first term, Trump emerged as the country’s most prominent birther, about which Taibbi commented, “That such an idiotic campaign may have launched Trump into the White House to succeed Obama is an incredibly bitter pill, but this story isn't exactly over yet. When Trump takes over he will immediately have to reckon with Obama's example, and this is a historical popularity contest His Orangeness seems doomed to lose.”

Taibbi had high praise for Obama’s executive skills, especially vis-à-vis Trump’s (bolding added):

A striking quality of Obama as president is that he did his job without seeming to need to take credit for things all of the time, which kept the political price down on many of his decisions…

…Most politicians are pathological: 99 percent of them are ruled by drives rather than thoughts.

Obama wasn't that way. To use a hokey sports metaphor, he did his job in the manner of an offensive lineman: The less you heard about him, the better he was probably doing…

His performance this week testified greatly to this quality. He didn't have a lot to say about the election results, but what few lines he did speak conveyed a lot. This is a characteristic of strong people. Contrast this to Donald Trump, who vomits out great quantities of verbiage, taking so many positions at once that no one of them has much meaning after a while.