Donald Trump has decided that former President Barack Obama is the big new enemy to rant about all the time, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is falling in line. Trump spent Monday rage-tweeting about something called “Obamagate” and, asked by a reporter what crime he was accusing Obama of, said “You know what the crime. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.” (At no point did Trump name a crime.)
Hours later, McConnell appeared on the Team Trump Livestream with Trump daughter-in-law Lara, and went after Obama on COVID-19. “Clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration, any kind of game plan for something like this,” McConnell said. The Obama administration literally left the Trump administration a literal pandemic playbook, complete with warnings about the need for testing and personal protective equipment and instructions for coordinated response.
That’s not all. The Obama administration also left a pandemic early warning program that Trump canceled last fall. And the Obama administration held a pandemic training exercise during the transition to help prepare the incoming Trump administration.
So when McConnell says “Clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration, any kind of game plan for something like this,” that is not subject to interpretation in any way—you simply cannot make a good-faith effort that this statement is even partially true.
McConnell also whined about Obama having called Trump’s coronavirus response ”an absolute chaotic disaster” in a private call with former staff. “I think it’s a little bit classless frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you,” McConnell said, because obviously it’s worse to be “a little bit classless” than to cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people through denial, refusal to take action, incompetence, and putting politics over public health.
McConnell cited the two Presidents Bush as models for not publicly criticizing presidential successors—but the difference is that they were succeeded by competent presidents. At a certain point of incompetence and intentional cruelty you’re just not even talking about the same concept, and Trump is there. Trump has shattered every political norm in sight, with McConnell’s eager participation and even leadership, so to invoke norms of civility is yet another dishonest perversion of U.S. politics.