Trump is No Obama

Josef Joffe’s article in last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, How Trump is Like Obama” castigates President Trump and former President Obama equally for the decline of the United States as a global leader. True to the headline, Joffe places Obama’s eight years in office alongside Trump’s five months (along with the things he’s said over the years) for undermining the American leadership the world has relied upon since World War II.

Obama’s actions certainly made clear his intention to withdraw the United States from its preeminence in the world. His signature failure had to be allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad to cross his rhetorical “red line” and use chemical weapons without consequences. His complete fecklessness with respect to the so-called Arab Spring is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s dawdling over the Iranian revolution in 1979. Unless one can make the case that Obama’s Iran nuclear weapons deal was good for the free world (I can’t), there was very little world leadership during his eight years as president.

On the other hand, Trump’s actions in his few months in office have shown strength and decisiveness. These include sending warships to North Korea and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to China; his very successful trip to the Middle East; rolling back Obama’s “opening to Cuba” until Cuba allows freedom to return to its people; and, of course, bombing that airstrip in Syria. Whether you agree with those actions or not, he has shown and continues to show a desire and a willingness to lead.

align=”left” Most Trump supporters believe the president’s agenda, as outlined in his campaign, is truly about making America great again. We are not just his voting base or a reliable interest group working on his behalf. He seems to see us the way Tocqueville saw America’s middle class: as the foundation and center of the American way of life.

The other area where Trump and Obama differ is in their willingness to spend U.S. tax dollars abroad, beginning with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The Obama administration allowed TARP money to bail out foreign as well as American banks that had made money loaning to unreliable borrowers and reselling those loans without transparency as to their actual worth, but it did not bail out individual American citizens who got stuck with “troubled assets” like homes that dropped rapidly in value or stock portfolios that collapsed.

Trump, on the other hand, insists our allies pay their fair share of costs in all areas of international cooperation, including security and trade. Bailing out rich guys who take ridiculous risks is not on his agenda. The president’s supporters are pleased we finally have someone who cares about the American middle class and is lifting the burdens that have been placed on it by the increasing costs of government programs, both here and abroad. First he tried to protect our neighborhoods from settlement by un-vetted refugees and migrants. His latest effort to improve our families’ lives is ending the Department of Education’s tortured interpretations of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

Most Trump supporters believe the president’s agenda, as outlined in his campaign, is truly about making America great again. We are not just his voting base or a reliable interest group working on his behalf. He seems to see us the way Tocqueville saw America’s middle class: as the foundation and center of the American way of life.

Trumpians agree with the president that the existence of a vibrant middle class is essential to maintaining the American way of life. What does that entail? To most of us it includes: love of God, family, community, state, and nation, in that order. People blessed with the benefits of religion, family, community, and state are able to identify with and have great affection for America. When a majority of people are happy, even those who are less rooted, benefit from the stability and spirit engendered by the majority.

Progressives and globalists usually associate patriotism with irrational love of one’s own, while we believe there are many benefits, certainly more benefits than disadvantages to having a middle class that is geographically rooted—not to the point that people fail to move in order to provide for their families—but as an aid to that great American virtue, duly noted by Tocqueville, that he calls “self-interest rightly understood.” Tocqueville presents this as the American impulse to generously help one’s neighbors. He also says that this habit over time becomes second nature to Americans, who do it so naturally that they seem to lose track of who owes whom, reaching out ever further to be of assistance to those in need, and trusting that favors given will be returned without counting the cost every time they are rendered.

Joffe praises “pre- Obama, pre-Trump” diplomacy, which he characterizes as achieving our ends, not by going mano a mano, but by serving the interests of others as we do things like safeguarding security and the liberal trading order. This sounds a lot like “self-interest rightly understood,” taken to the international arena. But can it work there? With respect to these services the international community has come to expect, Trump says our current costs are too high. To which Joffe answers with Harry Truman’s question: “Which is better for the country, to spend 20 or 30 billion dollars to keep the peace, or to do as we did in 1920 and then have to spend 100 billion dollars for four years to fight a war?”

align=”right” Joffe praises “pre- Obama, pre-Trump” diplomacy, which he characterizes as achieving our ends, not by going mano a mano, but by serving the interests of others as we do things like safeguarding security and the liberal trading order. This sounds a lot like “self-interest rightly understood,” taken to the international arena. But can it work there?

Really? As Europe has completely recovered from World War II, is it not “self-interest wrongly understood” to continue to subsidize Europe’s security and access to trade? Even in 1947, there were economists skeptical of the massive transfer of resources from the United States to Western Europe. The economist Henry Hazlitt, for example, suggested that American subsidies would make it possible to hide the negative effects we could expect those nations to face if they continued to move in a socialistic direction. Maybe Hazlitt was right.

When it comes to keeping the peace, it is not Trump who has advocated a smaller, weaker military. The current president has given every indication, in word and deed, that he wants an America that is militarily strong to defend the nation from foes domestic and foreign. In this regard, Trump most closely resembles Reagan, not Obama.

Fact is, Donald J. Trump is the antithesis of Barack H. Obama and Obama is the antithesis of Trump. Our current president wants to Make America Great Again; the former does not believe it was ever great or particularly exceptional. Joffe is engaged in historical revisionism, but it is too soon and the experiences of the last eight years are too raw and recent. But this much is obvious: Trump is not like Obama, and from the perspective of Middle America, he is in every way, a better president for real Americans everywhere.

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About Christina F. Jeffrey

Dr. Christina Jeffrey did her undergraduate work at Vassar College and the University of Plano and has a Ph.D. in Political Science from The University of Alabama. She taught Public Administration in Turkey and Germany, and until moving to South Carolina was a tenured associate professor at Kennesaw State University. Since then she has worked as an adjunct professor. She is the mother of five, grandmother of five and there are more to come.

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18 responses to “Trump is No Obama

  • Josef Joffe:
    Another Democrat circus side show flop.
    The Democrats are demonstrating serious psychotic breakdown behavior.
    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving demographic.

  • It should be illegal to mention OhBummer’s name in the same article. One is an American and the other, well, who really knows after eight (8) yrs of nothing but procrastination, liberal (and communist) lies, and, oh well, “what difference does it make, now?”

    • Yep, but when it happens, a correction in the WSJ, a correction is called for and might be slow in coming if we don’t do it here. Agreed?

  • With all due respect to the author, with whom I agree, but why does anyone care what the Wall Street Journal has to say about anything?

    If 2016 was the “Flight 93 Election” – then don’t you all realize that the Trump victory only means that we are in the cockpit and fighting to regain control? The mainstream media want the plane to crash, we want to fly it to safety. We have to get them away from the controls and pacify them – not hold a polite discussion and debate. These are not ladies and gentlemen who have an intellectual disagreement – these are dangerous people who have led America to the brink of collapse.

    We should be demanding that President Trump use anti-trust laws to bust the mainstream media conglomerates. Put them on the defensive. Have Congress investigate them instead of the President. This “fourth estate” has no actual constitutional mandate to govern anything, and yet it has far too much power in America and the world. Thank God for the internet, where We The People can share news, ideas and information free of the mainstream media censors – but their effect on political opinion is still negative and they must be stopped – stopped – not debated. They are clearly engaged in an attempted coup against President Trump – President Trump must stop them in the name of the American people.

    • Hmmmmm….great idea stopping them (the lying press), but please tell us how to stop the mainstream media. I am morally certain you don’t advocate destroying their presses and shooting their reporters. If we stop reading what they write, how big a difference will that make? I guess we can boycott their advertisers, but do we really want to stop monitoring them and do we want to restrain from calling them out when they lie? That seems ill advised, in my humble opinion. If nothing else, Ms. Jeffrey is staying in practice holding the knowledge class accountable, so I’d prefer that you not discourage her. We need our own knowledge class and we need them to stay sharp.

      • As I wrote, the anti-trust laws should be applied to the mainstream media conglomerates. Break them up into smaller entitites just like President Reagan broke up AT&T’s Bell System. If We acknowledged that the consolidation of power in industry was dangerous to our liberty in the past and applied such laws, then why not hold the mainstream media to the same standards. Have Congress investigate these agents of oligarchy and not the People’s President.

        I also do not think the mainstream media are a “knowledge class”. Most mainstream reporters are ignorant and their primary function is to spread ignorance and sensationalism.

        The mainstream media conglomerates are not a free and independent press providing knowledge for our democracy. They are an arm of the political oligarchy which creates faction, spreads lies and undermines constitutional government.

      • Yes, I used to wonder why the Feds approved all that consolidation, and then I forgot about it – you are so right, it’s time for another trust- busting President! I have lived in Germany twice and my husband studied there. We love our German friends, but they are very different from Americans – maybe your insight explains why Obama and Trump can appear the same, when looked at through certain German lenses,.

      • German lenses are like reverse beer goggles. Normal beer goggles make ugly things look beautiful. German beer goggles make beautiful things look ugly and therefore sedate the conscience making it easier for Germans to destroy them.

    • Joffe does not work for the WSJ. He is publisher of Die Zeit magazine in Germany and is at the Hoover Institute. I think his opinion in his WSJ piece is wrong, but generally he understands America better than any other German. I much prefer to hear what other intelligent, thoughtful people have to say and then think about it and argue over it if I disagree.

      While the internet does provide countless opportunities to learn of things not covered by the NYT, WaPo, or CNN, some blogs and especially their commenters are totally uninformed. There are things I like that Trump is doing and there are some things I don’t like. I won’t become a cheerleader who ignores his mistakes. He will be stronger too if he listens to different opinions. He has chosen an excellent cabinet.

      • Joffe does not generally understand American better than any other German. I am a German and I understand America better than Joffe. Working for Die Zeit does not help his case; the German mainstream press is even worse than the American press.

      • I’ve been reading Joffe for years. He is the only German journalist who gets his info on America from personal experience. You do know that he attended HS in America, don’t you? Do you also know that he was on the founding board of The American Interest? He really knows foreign affairs.

  • Liberalism IS obama GETTING credit for the fourth worst economy in US recorded
    history!

    AND he gets credit for the worst ever at NOT having even ONE year with more
    then 3% growth during his entire term!

  • The truth of the Obama administration may eventually become widely known, that is if the news media ever swings back to somewhere near the center again. I won’t hold my breath however! Facts: Obama diminished our standing in the world; He worked to destroy our standing Army, Navy, and Air Force; He undermined the US Dept. of Justice, as well as our other security departments; He purposely allowed our weapons systems to become outdated; He forced higher and higher taxes on the middle class to support his ever increasing giveaways to the welfare class (even to the extent of forcing tax payers to pay for drugs for the drug addicted); He appointed judges across the country who are hostile to our Constitution; He opened our borders to all, even terrorists and immediately put them on welfare; He oversaw the radicalization and federalizing of our school systems; He purposely destroyed the premier health care system in the world; He usurped land in the government’s name; He cost the jobs of millions of Americans, including most of those who worked in any energy business, but also manufacturing: He drove companies and money out of the country; and he did even more, the preceding are just a few of the things he was responsible for.

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