What the nation needs desperately as the 2018 midterm elections draw near is to hear more wisdom from Barack Obama and less venom from Hillary Clinton.
Although former presidents tend to abide by a gentlemen’s agreement to go easy on their successor, Obama must step up and speak out more aggressively about Donald Trump and his policies. Obama is the most beloved Democrat, with an immense intellect, whose words are taken seriously - even by opponents.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, continues to draw a dark cloud over the political landscape. Democrats need to move on from her devastating loss in 2016, but she refuses to let go.
During a recent visit to India, Clinton continued to stomp on sour grapes and, worse, blamed the “backwards” parts of America for her election defeat. Clinton said she “won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”
The remarks were red meat for conservative commentators, who would love to link rising Democratic stars such as Deval Patrick, Adam Schiff, Kamala Harris, Chris Murphy and Amy Klobuchar, with the sad, misguided bitterness that Clinton continues to foster.
Reacting to Clinton’s latest comments, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said: “Those are kind of fighting words for me, because I’m partial to Missouri voters.” Seeking to distance herself from Clinton, McCaskill added, “I don’t think that’s the way you should talk about any voter, especially ones in my state.”
The conservative Wall Street Journal responded to Clinton’s remarks with this: “The shock of losing the Presidency to Donald Trump has to be mind-blowing, but Hillary Clinton keeps offering evidence for why she may have been the only Democrat in 2016 who could have managed that feat.”
Unlike Clinton, former President Obama has been too silent.
It was nice that Obama agreed to be interviewed by David Letterman on Netflix, a pleasant treat for those of us who miss hearing him in any forum. But more recent news that he and wife Michelle are negotiating with Netflix to produce content for the streaming service might not be the best way for the Obamas to spend their enormous political capital.
With Trump and Congress working to dismantle so much of what Obama achieved, not just in health care, but also affecting the environment, education, and financial regulations, it is essential that Obama speak out. It doesn’t have to be on cable-TV talk programs or on op-ed pages; a series of well-attended, possibly televised speeches on college campuses would be a good way to start.
Meanwhile, watching clips of Clinton’s recent remarks, I find myself acting like Archie Bunker and shouting at the TV: “Hillary, stifle yourself!”
And as Trump’s presidency runs amok I feel like I’m sitting in a fighter jet in the film “Top Gun,” yelling, “Engage, Barack! Engage!”
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker.