After a grisly chemical attack left dozens of people dead in Syria on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was quick to blame—of course—former President Barack Obama.And it shouldn't have surprised us that the official White House statement on the attack said this:
"Today's chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world," Spicer told reporters. "These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution."
This was hypocrisy, as you probably know: In a series of 2013 tweets, Trump said he opposed U.S. intervention in Syria.
But beyond that, the emphasis on Obama in this situation would seem to fall under the category of "blaming America first." I thought conservatives were unalterably opposed to that.
But as I've said for years on this blog, Republican voters get angrier at Democrats and liberals than they do at any foreign foe. To a large extent, their anger at foreign foes is actually anger at liberals and Democrats for (allegedly) enabling those foes. And much of the right's anger at criminals and domestic terrorists is really anger at Democratic politicians and other supposedly pointy-headed liberals (in the media, in academia, in entertainment).
Trump is just a bit more obvious about blaming the domestic opposition than most on the right. Here he is last May apparently blaming the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 on the Obama administration:
Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2016
While our wonderful president was out playing golf all day, the TSA is falling apart, just like our government! Airports a total disaster!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 21, 2016
Here he is in July blaming Obama and Hillary Clinton for a terrorist attack in France in unrest in Turkey:
The “failures” of President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were responsible for both Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France, and Friday’s attempted coup by the Turkish military, Trump claimed Saturday.Khizr Khan, father of a soldier who gave his life in Iraq, denounces Trump for scapegoating Muslims? A Trump spokeswoman blames Obama for the death of the son. Never mind the fact that Obama wasn't president when Humayun Khan died -- isn't the enemy responsible for killing our troops?
“We’re seeing unrest in Turkey, a further demonstration of the failures of Obama-Clinton,” he told a crowd of supporters during a speech to introduce his newly appointed running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R). “You just have to look ― every single thing they’ve touched has turned to horrible, horrible, death-defying problems.”
Instability in the Middle East, which Trump attributed to the Obama-Clinton administration, led to the attack in France, he claimed.
It's no surprise that the blame-America-first approach would work for Trump. In 2004, Osama bin Laden was still alive, but Republican voters were angrier at John Kerry, for supposed irregularities in his Vietnam War record, than they were at the mastermind of 9/11. Since 2012, Republican voters have been angrier at Hillary Clinton (and Barack Obama and Susan Rice) than they've ever been at the actual killers in Benghazi.
And if we want a sense of how right-wingers rank-order villains, we can go back to 1999, when online readers of the New York Post voted Bill Clinton the second most evil person of the millennium, ahead of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Dr. Mengele, and behind only Adolph Hitler. Hillary Clinton was ranked #6. And please note that everyone else in the top six was on the ballot -- the votes for the Clintons were all write-ins.
After decades of conservative propaganda, that's how right-wing media consumers think. Trump is one of them, so he understands them perfectly.