For the entirety of his first term in office, Barack Obama blamed his predecessor, George W. Bush, for “the mess he inherited.” When his record-setting $780 billion stimulus package failed to jump-start the economy, Obama reminded the American people that he had inherited the “Great Recession” from Bush.
Now that his time in office is ending and a new president waits in the wings, Obama — or at least his surrogates at “Time” magazine — are “paying it forward.” The publication has named President-elect Donald Trump as its “person of the year” for 2016. But if that title is intended as an honor (in 1938, the magazine named Adolf Hitler “man of the year”), the distinction comes with strings attached.
Although the cover shows a relatively benign picture of Trump, the caption identifies him as “President of the Divided State of America.” Pretty witty, eh?
The cover story, by Michael Scherer, amplifies the message. Here’s the opening:
Even for Donald Trump, the distance is still fun to think about, up here in his penthouse 600 ft. in the sky, where it’s hard to make out the regular people below. The ice skaters swarming Central Park’s Wollman Rink look like old-television static, and the Fifth Avenue holiday shoppers could be mites in a gutter….
This is, in short, not a natural place to refine the common touch.
I think Scherer has his former presidential candidates mixed up. It wasn’t Trump who self-identified as America’s would-be populist-in-chief. In fact, the candidate who did sell herself as the savior of the middle class spent much of her political energy condemning Trump as the candidate of the rich and a man who was out of touch with the “regular people.”
And Time completes the fiction with its cover blurb, which assails Trump for the rift in the country that is largely, if not entirely, of Barack Obama’s making. If the bitter ideological division in the nation, which is Obama’s true legacy, is ever bridged, it won’t be thanks to him but in spite of him.