How Obama May Help Trump Become President

If President Obama doesn’t want to be followed by President Trump, he’s doing a poor job of showing it.

For months now it’s been obvious that THE single biggest thing hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances of getting elected president is the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Although her campaign is officially opposed to the massive so-called free trade deal, Clinton spoke out in favor of it almost 50 times as Secretary of State, and her on-again, off-again relationship with it remains, for many people, a symbol of everything they distrust about her as a politician and potential president.

Will Hillary Clinton stay opposed to the TPP once she’s in the Oval Office and free from the pressures of the campaign trail?

Will she continue to look out for American workers when she’s filled her cabinet with the corporatist-types who she’s always been most comfortable with in the past?

In an election year when it’s become abundantly clear that Americans have rejected neoliberalism and so-called free trade, questions like this aren’t ridiculous -- they’re what millions of voters are asking themselves all across the country right now, and they will decide who is our next president.

Which makes it all the more puzzling as to why President Obama is doing everything he can to make voters more skeptical of Hillary Clinton’s views on trade.

Fresh off his annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard, the president is now set to go on a massive multi-state tour in support of the TPP.

As Politico reports - “The White House is... organizing 30 events over the congressional recess to gin up support for the [TPP]. The strategy is to offer support and cover to the small flock of Democrats who supported legislation to fast-track the deal and to remind wavering Republicans that they oppose it at their own peril.”

The goal here is to create the political pressure needed to force the TPP through Congress during the lame-duck session, right in the middle of an election year, right in the middle of a presidential campaign that has in large part become a referendum on each candidate’s views on trade…

This is terrible, terrible politics.

At this point, Hillary Clinton would probably be better off if everyone just stopped talking about the trade or the TPP altogether.

She’s said just about all she can say against the deal, and will do better as candidate if she starts a national conversation on things like family leave, the minimum wage, and the public option -- issues on which she can draw a real contrast between herself, Donald Trump, and his Republican allies.

But that conversation can’t happen if President Obama is out there on tour talking about how great the TPP is.

All that will do is get voters asking questions once again about what Hillary Clinton really thinks about trade and what she’ll really do as commander-in-chief.

Questions like that will depress voter turnout on Election Day and hurt down-ballot Democrats, who will then have to decide between supporting the president and supporting their values, something that never results in victory at the polls.

Whatever way you look at it, the big pro-TPP push that President Obama has planned for this fall looks like an out-and-out political disaster.

And here’s the really bad thing: what President Obama wants to do won’t just hurt Hillary Clinton and spoil the hopes of down-ballot Democrats -- it will also hand Donald Trump a big fat gift.

The first lesson of storytelling is that a hero’s “goodness” is defined entirely in relation to the villain’s” badness”

It’s the villain that gives the hero or heroine his or her meaning and it’s the villain that makes the hero or heroine look impressive.

For example, Batman himself isn’t all that compelling, but once the Joker comes along, anyone reading a Batman comic or watching a Batman movie immediately gets what a heroic battle Batman is fighting against such a terrible super villain, and thus wants to support Batman's fight.

Because this dynamic is embedded in the way we emotionally and intellectually process stories, it also translates well into political campaigns, which are themselves big storytelling competitions.

This is what’s dangerous about President Obama’s pro-TPP push -- it turns him into a villain who Donald Trump can define himself as a superhero against.

Obviously, there are a lot of unattractive things about Donald Trump.

But for lot of people out there, those unattractive qualities don’t matter as much as the fact that they’re out of a job or stand to lose the one they have if we open up our economy to more cheap labor from East Asia.

For people like that, Donald Trump might not seem so bad, at least not compared to a president who’s trying to push through another job-killing so-called free trade deal.

In fact, to those people, Donald Trump might look downright heroic.

Now, Donald Trump is obviously not a hero -- he’s a racist charlatan -- but American worker outrage about trade is real, and any push by the president to force the TPP through the lame-duck Congress will make Donald Trump look like a hero in comparison, at least to a large section of the country.

This election is a lot closer than it seems, and if President Obama really wants to stop Donald Trump, he should give up on the TPP.

He may not want that, but it’s the only way to guarantee a Democratic victory in November.

It’s as simple as that.


chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 43 weeks ago

I would feel a lot better if Sec Clinton would speak out against zero and near zero tariffs. Her objections to the TPP seem to be along the line of not enough money allotted to workers who lost their jobs due to TPP and the corporate tribunal.

Mr Sperling's (an H. Clinton advisor on trade) appearance on Thom's show was not very comforting. He said on the show they are not going to support the TPP unless it helped Americans workers. With that kind of logic, NAFTA and CAFTA would have been supported by Sec. Clinton.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 43 weeks ago

I find it extremely ironic that Clinton is currently running anti outsourcing ads on Network TV showing David Letterman exposing Dangerous Don's double dealing on the matter...... And now Obama is going to run a campaign supporting Mike Pence's stance on TPP???? Sorry I have to use this.. ..but WTF? Has Obama made a deal with the devil????

Oh it's just fine to put off a Supreme Court appointee, nobody is making a stir anymore, but The TPP, holy crap, Obama is obsessed....Obama is flat out wrong on this one, and Thom is flat out right....this will bring Clinton down big time, and very likely put Dangerous Don in control of the largest military the world has ever seen.

cccccttttt 7 years 43 weeks ago

It is possible that Obama sincerely believes TPP is good for the US.

Or, it may be there are large financial gains for trumpeting the corporate cause.

Politicans lie so well its difficult to guess their real motives.


dianhow 7 years 43 weeks ago

Thoms fans I beg you Please tell Obama now NO TPP ask Why is he pushing it so hard ?? People are sick to death of' ' Global partnerships' they SUCK like hell     Tell Hillary NO TPP NO bait & switch crap. People do not want Bill as CO President !

dianhow 7 years 43 weeks ago

God I hate politics so bad !! BUt sadly GOP is and has been toxic for USA, middle class , good jobs, decent wages, pensions, Saving SS & mediare , the disabled, old, sick, mentally ill GOP has NO family values !!! US needs Medicare for ALL / get the greedy billionaires OUT of health care They are driving up insurance costs !!!

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 43 weeks ago

Thom should know very well that Obama has no choice in TPP, agenda 21 or anything else that keeps the NWO on schedule. We can't get to that global, "one world, one currency" and thus fulfill that prophecy about the 'beast' without the agreements that ensure, one world, one international government, one comprehensive surveillance and subsequently one means of ridding the planet of the excessive 6.5 billion. Now can we?

Don't bring up stuff you know neither Obama, Clinton or Trump can deliver or even truly support unless they want to be painfully replaced.

Coalage1 7 years 43 weeks ago

Her support, or lack of, for TPP (whichever way the political wind blows that day) is not Hillary's biggest problem in getting elected. Her biggest problem is that she is a liar, a conniver, a war hawk, and has possibly gained financially from her time as SOS.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 43 weeks ago

Coalage1 -- You watch too much Fox news. I think HRC's worst problem is that she cannot lie which is a huge disadvantage in a presidential campaign.

An example of her not lying but sounding like it, is what she said about Bernie's vote on the auto bailout. HRC has been a lawyer too long; similar to Obama.

Coalage1 7 years 43 weeks ago

Not lieing? You dont think she "stretched the truth a little" bit in her response to the FBI email investigation? Come one...even her most die hard supporters have to concede that one. That she is a war hawk is not even debatable.

Mr.Wayne's picture
Mr.Wayne 7 years 43 weeks ago

We're all in this mess because the DNC and HRC and a whole bunch of money grubbing cronies cheated, riggged, slanted and staged the Dem Primary to get HRC installed as Candidate. They stole the Primary: it's a fact. They stole it from Sanders: straight up.

Thom, how can you ask whether HRC will 'oppose' the TPP when she has been pushing it all along (look at her damned donors) and she's stacked her 'transition team' with a bunch of die-hard pro TPP corporatists?? Is there some question in your mind as to howw she will "serve" as POTUS? Are you trying to convince us that because she said it, it has some ring of truth, thereby?

Uh, she's not what she says....generally - unless it is convenient to her private needs.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 43 weeks ago

Coalage1 -- Have you got any quotes of any lies she has told (or links to them). My view of "stretching the truth" is exactly what I was saying. The casual listener hears what she is not saying. That was me on the Bernie and auto bailout discussion at the first debate. I do not believe one can call that lying.

When I listen to HRC, I have to listen to Thom to make sure I do not vote for Trump.

Everything is debatable; just ask Aristotle. I think she has given up thinking. She just repeats what her most trusted advisors tell her. She sounds like a war hawk because that is what her advisors tell her to sound like.

Liberalcensorville 7 years 43 weeks ago

The Democratic Party alienated a lot of people this year, myself among them. I am a progressive who wants to avoid any further encouragement of knee-jerk catering to single-issue groups by Hillary Clinton, Thom Hartmann, all liberal websites, and the media. Regarding illegal immigrants, most of you act like 10 million of them in the U.S. (pick a number-I don't know what it is) is really a good thing. You are in good company-George W Bush feels the same, as does the Chamber of Commerce. Now I am a racist, no doubt, for bringing up a dissenting opinion on a "progressive" website. So, if millions become citizens easily, that should encourage more millions. That sucks, frankly. And where is your disenchantment with African Americans for ushering in Hillary Clinton in the primary and keeping Bernie Sanders out? I don't hear a word about that, either, for fear of upsetting African Americans, no doubt. Many of you have your heads in the clouds. You are losing a lot of people with your nonsense. Try reading Thomas Frank. Just because the GOP ran amok with the Christian Right and the Tea Party, that does not mean Democrats are much better. You better start examining your own motives.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 43 weeks ago

Liberalcensorville, the reason there are so many undocumented immigrants is because of NAFTA. NAFTA destroyed The Mexican economy for peasant farmers and kicked them off their land by the tens of millions. They went to cities looking for work - which didn't have much so they kept going and came up here.
That was fine and dandy with American business salivating over cheap labor. In almost any Latin American country bales of fliers are passed out on street corners and posted on lampposts telling people "Come work in the United States!"
As far as being a racist, you KNOW that if there were no jobs in the United States but there were in Canada you and I would go to Canada and we wouldn't care if it was legal for us to do so or not.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 43 weeks ago

Liberalcensorville -- You should really listen to what Thom says, not put words in his mouth. He says we have an illegal employer problem, not an illegal alien problem. Thom describes the details in his book "Rebooting the American Dream".

ChristopehrCurrie's picture
ChristopehrCurrie 7 years 42 weeks ago

President Obama’s dishonestly promoted TPP/TTIP/TiSA rigged “trade agreements” are “Satanically inspired” (so to speak), because they place corporate profits above all other considerations (like saving lives, protecting our environment, etc.). They are also an outright SCAM, because they amount to a “heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose” business model. ISDS arbitration tribunals can make up their own rules (like the did when they began awarding taxpayer funded damages for “losses of future expected profits”), because they are not accountable to any legislature whatsoever. And rules regarding corruption cannot be enforced on the arbitrators. President Obama is literally attempting to impose a form a “taxation without representation” on US taxpayers (and worldwide) which is downright TREASONOUS! He is GROSSLY VIOLATING his Presidential Oath of Office and deserves to be IMPEACHED and REMOVED FROM OFFICE accordingly!

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