For the past couple of years, when I’ve criticized Trump, I’ve often heard “but Obama…” It was annoyingly irrelevant. He was no longer President. Whether or not he was “worse” or “better” than Trump didn’t change whether any specific Trump-led policies were positive or negative. The same people who rightly criticized Obama supporters for continuing to blame Bush during the Obama administration, moved seamlessly to blaming Obama for starting certain immigration practices that Trump expanded, They also faulted him for initiating involvement in conflicts not related to the American national interest that Trump has continued to involve our military in.
After a couple of years, the Obama years are relevant again because the front runner to take on Trump is using eight years of Obama/Biden as a major selling point for his candidacy. He’s not offering his base a progressive platform or even a progressive record. His selling point seems to simply be that if you prefer the Obama years to the Trump years, he might be your guy. Promising to Make America 2008-2016 Again. Oh – and calling Trump a racist, and hoping you’ll ignore his own support for segregation. Or writing the ’94 crime bill that disproportionately harmed minorities.
When Biden told The View that those eight Obama years included “not a single whisper of scandal. Not one…“, I felt millions of eyes roll in unison. He claimed that the lack of scandal those eight years was what he was “proudest of”. Just as he claimed that American intervention in the Balkans was his “proudest” foreign policy accomplishment.
If what Biden is offering voters is a return to the Obama years, the following aren’t even whispers of scandal in his mind:
Prosecuting whistle-blowers and journalists under the espionage act at a rate never before seen under any other American President.
Funding and arming groups allied with al-Qaeda and ISIS, including munitions that ended up killing American soldiers.
Running guns to Mexican drug cartels with the Fast and Furious scandal.
Employing practices Obama described as “torture” under the Bush regime on individuals held indefinitely without charge or trial.
Legislating through executive order using “a pen and a phone“.
I could go on, but in Joe Biden’s mind, the only supposed scandal the Obama administration ever faced was wearing a tan suit. Maybe in Uncle Joe’s bubble, everyone believes Obama’s rise was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”, so it’s easier to assume that the only critiques of the last administration were fashion faux pas like suit colors or constant hair-sniffing.
He may want to believe that’s the end of it, given he doesn’t really have much else to run on. Thinking Trump is awful hardly differentiates him from the other twenty or so contenders for the nomination. But as his penchant for plagiarism indicates, he’s not likely to let truth get in the way of a good story.