It’s Trump vs Obama. And Obama’s Winning. (And so is CA!)

Of all the manifestations of the Madness of King Donald, perhaps the most obvious one is his continuing obsession with his predecessor, Barack Obama. And, as in the past, his fevered, imaginary competition with America’s first African American president finds King Donald coming up short.

Examples are abundant, starting with Trump’s inauguration, which Mad King Donald declared (and continues to insist) had much bigger crowds than Obama’s inaugurations. And there was Trump’s well-publicized (by him) withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, a totally unnecessary act since it was not a binding agreement. He could have simply ignored the agreement’s prescriptions, which he was bound to do in any event. But Trump had to make a big deal of the withdrawal so he could use the opportunity to take a few digs at Obama.

The same is true of his abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal, a major diplomatic achievement of Obama’s, although this was a much more consequential act of spite since that agreement was binding on the US, Iran and several other countries. The situation in the Middle East is at tinderbox levels thanks to Trump’s compulsive withdrawal.

Most of the various regulations that Trump has rolled back were Obama-era regulations. And he constantly harps — or tweets — about how much America was disrespected during the Obama presidency. It’s clear the man is obsessed with Obama’s continuing popularity. There’s certainly no room for that in a Donald-centric world.

Today’s news brings two new examples of this irrational impulse, one mostly frivolous but revealing, and one with potentially serious results for years.

The frivolous example has to do with the “let’s buy Greenland” daftness of the last few days. Trump got in a snit over the rejection of his grand scheme by Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, who opined that Trump’s proposal was “absurd.” So Trump, as you know, canceled his planned trip to Denmark, scheduled for early September, saying Frederiksen’s response was “nasty.”

And then came the Obama angle. At an impromptu press conference outside the White House, Trump said, “…[Denmark] can’t treat the USA the way they treated us under Obama.”

Does anyone recall abusive behavior by Denmark toward the US when Obama was president? No, because it never happened. But in Trump’s dark mind, the US was being abused and insulted left and right while Obama was president. Perhaps he’s mixing this up with the abuse and insult he hurled at Obama at every chance.

The irony, if that word can really be applied here, is that the USA is being treated this way under Trump, because of Trump’s insane behavior.

But I — and many others — think there’s another Obama aspect to this story. It turns out that Obama is also scheduled to visit Denmark in September, not long after Trump’s now-aborted trip. The contrast of expected reactions by the Danish public to Trump and Obama could rightly be assumed to be stark. Trump is disliked around the world. Obama remains much admired. It appears that the prospect of being shown up by Obama was just too much for he who wears the orange crown.

The other recent example of Trump’s Obama Derangement Syndrome is potentially much more serious, though not nearly as entertaining as the Greenland fiasco. This has to do with Trump’s efforts to undermine Obama’s signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan.

Under the Clean Power Plan, car manufacturers are required to substantially increase the mileage ratings of their vehicles, leading to a huge reduction in tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. Trump has had his administration working feverishly to rewrite the rules, essentially to undo Obama’s plan entirely. Trump’s plan would drastically roll back the mileage requirements. He figured car makers would love it. And he could kill another significant Obama achievement.

Things aren’t working out quite as Trump had hoped. Rather than loving Trump’s less stringent regulations, the car companies have been freaking out about it. Why? Because, under an Obama era waiver, California (and about 15 other states) actually have imposed more stringent mileage requirements. If Trump’s plan were to be put in place, the car makers would be faced with the costly prospect of manufacturing cars for essentially two different markets — the strict mileage states and the other states.

The manufacturers have actually gone to California, the de facto spokes-state for all the low mileage states, and negotiated a new agreement committing to California’s tougher standards for all of their cars.

Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW have already gotten on board with the California standard, in a very public way. A freaked out White House summoned Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors to the White House in order to twist their arms to go with the Trump proposal. There’s been no word as to whether or not the strong arm tactics succeeded with those companies, but it does appear that BMW is now ready to enlist with California. (Carmakers’ Pact to Cut Emissions Saps Trump’s Plan, NY Times, 8/21/19) 

Poor King Donald. His grand plan to trash yet another significant Obama achievement is finding no takers.

Trump’s Obama Derangement Syndrome is clearly rooted in Trump’s racism. This son of a KKK member simply could not stand to see a black man in the White House, let alone a successful, popular black man. That’s why Trump seized the starring role in the racist “birther movement.”

But there’s something else at play here, related to Trump’s racism but more narrowly focused on one particular black man. Obama once insulted Trump in public. And he’s been seeking revenge ever since. You’ve heard his motto, “hit them back harder.”

I’m talking about the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the annual DC insiders’ banquet known for its sharp humor directed at America’s most powerful people. Most take the event in the intended spirit — good humor. Not Trump. He raged. Take a look at this excellent short piece from PBS’ Frontline.

At the end of the day, Trump is destroying the environment and risking war because he couldn’t take a joke.

And because he’s a racist. No joke.

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