Hatred is not a word that I would personally use. I don’t hate President Obama. I think he’s a good man, a good family man, but someone I disagree with on policy. But there’s no question that there are a lot of strong feelings about him. That’s not unique to Obama, though – it’s kind of the nature of politics these days. It has gotten so divided and so intense that leaders on both sides tend to be quite disliked by the other side.
There is a lot of disappointment with Obama’s presidency. He came into office as someone who was promising hope and change, someone who was supposed to be a transformational figure, and his presidency hasn’t accomplished that much. The legacy of his presidency, basically, is that of disappointment – and of Trump. Trump’s election was a reaction to eight years of Obama. People wanted a different direction. Obama couldn’t hand it off to a successor who would preserve his policies. You look at successful presidents, like Ronald Reagan, who was able to get that third term by handing it off to his vice-president, George H.W. Bush, who won handily in 1988.
“Instead of selling a bipartisan immigration reform bill, Obama kind of poisoned the well by issuing executive orders which were hated by Republicans.”
Obama basically governed by executive order, and didn’t work with Congress. Certainly there are different perspectives within both parties, but on an issue like immigration, there was a willingness to work across the aisle – you saw the Senate pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill, and instead of selling it in the House, he kind of poisoned the well by issuing executive orders which were hated by Republicans. He never worked with Congress, he never built relationships across the aisle – he came into office with an entirely Democratic congress, and they over-reached in those first two years. Instead of working on a bipartisan healthcare package, it was my way or the highway, and it set a bad tone, and he wasted a lot of his capital early on.
“There’s a sense that this White House – not just the president but the administration in general – has been somewhat arrogant.”
I’m sure that for some, it is personal, but I think by and large, it’s about policy. I do think there’s a sense that this White House – not just the president but the administration in general – has been somewhat arrogant. That’s a word you hear commonly associated with the Obama White House. You can’t make a blanket statement about everybody’s motives, but by and large, the Republican party’s opposition to Obama has been policy-related. Just as I don’t think Democrats had anything against George W. Bush personally – I think that was just about policy.
In my time in politics, it has gotten more divided and more divisive with every election cycle. You’re seeing a real rift within the country over attitudes. I think this election shows that – that Trump could win a pretty convincing victory in the Electoral College, winning in places where Republicans don’t win, like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, while Hillary Clinton took a pretty convincing win in the popular vote, because she racked up such huge margins on the coasts, in traditionally Democratic states like California, New York and Massachusetts. It just shows how divided the country is.