Eight years ago, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were in the midst of trying to play nice in the sandbox together after a lengthy and bruising primary. Hilary, in true Clinton fashion, triangulated herself into a key surrogate for the democratic nominee to fill in the gaps in her resume eventually becoming Secretary of State. Now, in 2016, the fates have twisted their respective roles allowing President Obama to try to push Clinton over the finish line against Donald Trump. Clinton helped Obama win to further her presidential aspirations; Obama is helping Clinton win to solidify his legacy.
Every two-term President has an interest in seeing his legacy last beyond his time living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There are two principal ways of legacy building – appointees to the Supreme Court and a successor of his party in the White House. Both of these key legacy planks are on the line if Clinton looses to Trump. The Republican Senate did not allow the President to appoint a liberal justice following the death of Antonin Scalia which leaves that task to the next chief executive.
The solidifying of his legacy is deeply personal to Obama. In his statement at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation event over the weekend, he said “I would consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote.”
Unless I’m missing something, there was no mention of Hilary Clinton in Obama’s call to action. Why should there be? The fact is until Trump made this a race; Hilary’s campaign did not feel they needed the President’s help. The irony here is that Obama has more to lose than Hilary. His political legacy is entirely dependent on the candidate he beat eight years ago.
What comes around, goes around.
Faculty, Department of Political Science, Towson University. Graduate from Liberty University Seminary.