Slate Writer: GOP’s Unrelenting ‘Sabotage’ of ‘Moderate’ Obama Turned It Into ‘The Party of Trump’

A certain January 20, 2009 private dinner in Washington is famous because the Republican bigwigs in attendance resolved to stymie President Obama’s agenda. Slate’s William Saletan implies that gathering also should be known for inadvertently getting the Donald Trump presidential ball rolling.

“The Republican Party decided to be what Obama wasn’t,” opined Saletan in a Monday article. “And what Obama wasn’t—insecure, bitter, vindictive, xenophobic, sectarian—is what the GOP, in the era of Trump, has become.” Saletan argued that Republicans’ exaggerated ideas about Obama’s liberalism were a major part of their problem: “If Obama had been a leftist, the GOP’s policy of negating him on every issue might have positioned Republicans in the mainstream. Instead, because Obama was a moderate, the GOP’s negation strategy pushed it toward the fringe.”

From Saletan’s piece (bolding added):

What caused Trump was the GOP’s decision to negate Obama in every way, and thereby become the party of Trump.

As president, Obama was never a radical leftist…He proposed to cut the national debt through a higher ratio of spending cuts to tax increases than even Bush’s father had accepted and Republican voters preferred. Obama embraced the Heritage Foundation's idea of imposing personal responsibility for health care costs through an individual mandate to buy insurance. He decimated al-Qaida’s leadership, built up troop strength in Afghanistan, and killed Osama bin Laden.

Nevertheless, Republicans opposed Obama at every turn. Whatever he embraced, they rejected

If Obama had been a leftist, the GOP’s policy of negating him on every issue might have positioned Republicans in the mainstream. Instead, because Obama was a moderate, the GOP’s negation strategy pushed it toward the fringe…

…Trump validates the maxim that in presidential primaries, the opposition party tends to choose a candidate who differs temperamentally from the incumbent. Obama is an adult. Therefore, Republicans are nominating a child…

How did the GOP end up in this madness? By twisting itself to thwart and vilify Obama. [Ted] Cruz paints the president as a traitor “who doesn’t believe in the mission of our military and who undermines them at every step.” [Marco] Rubio…repeatedly excoriates him for “talking about discrimination against Muslims”…

What has Obama done to provoke this psychosis? [Ross] Douthat says he abused executive authority. But that’s circular: Obama resorted to executive action when Republicans blocked the normal channels of government. The GOP’s sabotage began the moment Obama took office, and it exceeds anything done to previous presidents…

...[T]he Republican Party decided to be what Obama wasn’t. And what Obama wasn’t—insecure, bitter, vindictive, xenophobic, sectarian—is what the GOP, in the era of Trump, has become.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters