It is not President Obama’s way to deliver a blow in the ring of the sort that puts an opponent down for the count. (“When they go low, we go high.”) But last night he said something – delivering so unexpectedly powerful a blow – that made me leap from my seat.
I’ve seen several mentions of Obama’s having referred to Trump (without naming him) as a “homegrown demagogue.” But if anyone has taken notice of what a devastating and powerful attack that phrase was in its context, I haven’t seen it.
It was in the context of talking about the fundamental American virtues that he learned from his grandparents, and that waves of immigrants in America have taken to heart and given their allegiance, that President Obama let loose with this incredible sentence:
That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.
Just look at that sentence! He wasn’t just saying that Trump is a threat to our values. He isn’t just saying that Trump will fail in the end.
What is truly remarkable about that sentence is that the President here is lumping Donald Trump – the nominee of one of America’s two major political parties – with the mortal enemies against whom the United States has fought over the past eighty years!
We fought World War II against fascism in Europe and Asia. Then, for three and a half decades, and across the entire planet, we engaged in a long, incredibly dangerous, Cold War against communism. And now, for well over a decade, we have been engaged in another global conflict – an asymmetrical “war on terrorism” – against jihadists.
American blood and treasure expended to protect our values against enemies around the globe.
And into that list the President puts the “homegrown demagogue” it is now necessary – in the name of those values – to defeat.
Wow! Is there anything more profoundly damning that could be said about Donald Trump?
Notably, in President Obama’s delivery of this line, he moves swiftly and without emphasis across the knock-out punch. Pulling the punch, in a way, and placing the emphasis on the final words, “will fail in the end.”
It’s as though the President did not want to call too much attention to the full import of this incredible passage. But there it is: Trump as America’s mortal enemy.