Basically, it’s that the President made the mistake of punching down just a little bit too hard. You see, one reason why Presidents have traditionally made fun of themselves at these things is making fun of yourself is politically safe. When you’re the most powerful person in the room – which the President of the United States invariably is – and you throw a verbal jab at somebody, outside observers have one of two choices on how to take that:
- The President is a bully by attacking a social/political inferior.
- The President is interacting with those on more or less the same elevated plane as he is. He is still above them on the hierarchy, but it is a difference in degree, and not in kind.
So, going after Donald Trump – a man who will not be the next President of the United States, and who will also not be the Republican nominee – does not diminish Trump; it elevates him, which means that it diminishes Obama.
And it won’t help the President get re-elected, either. Since we’re not going to nominate Trump*, so his antics now won’t actually reflect on the GOP next year. If President Obama wants to waste his time on a flash in the pan, well, that’s not the first time that this has happened with the man…
*He gave 24 grand to Charlie Rangel. Charlie Rangel. That ain’t going to fly with the base, given that Charlie Rangel is a corrupt suckweasel even by the historical standards of the US Congress.