America's main political stage has rarely seen such a trash-talker, someone who relishes in knocking down opponents, and whose comebacks so often amount to the schoolboy sports taunt: "Scoreboard!"
Sure, I could be writing about Donald Trump here, but President Obama also fits the bill.
In his final year in office, President Obama is letting his personality shine: The cockiness he has sometimes cloaked and the jibes he has withheld — he's letting them all out. Obama has long kept his quick and sharp wit sheathed, but now that he doesn't care whose feelings he hurts, he is brandishing it happily.
After joking to senators at the recent State of the Union address, "I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa," the President ad libbed, "I've been there. I'll be shaking hands afterwards if you want some tips."
Obama's Iowa win over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards was his breakthrough moment, and it was the fruit of his renowned rhetorical skills and his unprecedented campaign organization. Any of the presidential candidates, Democrat and Republican, would be happy to get some Iowa tips from Obama. He knows that, and he made sure to rub it in their faces.
Later in the speech, he busted out this one: "If you doubt America's commitment , or mine , to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden."
He quite nearly turned to Biden for a high-five.
As with Trump, who responds to challenges by pointing to the polls, Obama regularly rolls out his "Scoreboard!" taunt.
In last year's State of the Union, when some Republicans sarcastically applauded at Obama's line "I have no more campaigns to run," Obama shot back with "I know, because I won both of them."
In private, Obama has always been a trash-talker. In the first week of the Obama administration, when House Minority Leader Eric Cantor presented some budget ideas, Obama waved them away, explaining "Elections have consequences. And, Eric, I won."
When Sen. John McCain, in a 2010 health-care reform summit, asked Obama about the sweetheart deals for the special interests. He referred to Obamacare's "Louisiana Purchase," giving special treatment to the home state of endangered Sen. Mary Landrieu. He pointed out that the drug lobby "got an $80 billion deal and in return for which they ran $150 million worth of ads in favor of 'health reform,'" adding "Their over $2-million-a-year lobbyist was here at the White House," writing the law.
Obama, in his response, didn't address the special favors or the backroom deals his White House cut with the drug lobby. Instead, he proverbially pointed at the scoreboard, telling McCain: "we're not campaigning anymore. The election is over."
Obama's taunts work with their intended audience. Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, for instance, declared the "just ask Osama,' and "I won both of em" lines to be two of Obama's greatest rhetorical moments of Lowery's two years at the Post.
The media and the Democratic base also loved Obama's schoolyard response to Mitt Romney's claim that Russia was America's biggest geopolitical threat: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back."
Hillary Clinton has also fallen prey to Obama's barbed rhetoric. In one 2008 debate, Obama said, "While I was working on those streets, watching those folks see their jobs shipped overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart."
In a 2008 debate just before New Hampshire, Hillary responded with humor to a question about her "likability," compared to Obama's, and she agreed "he's very likable." Obama, while looking down his notepad, said in the perfect tone: "You're likable enough, Hillary." That nasty barb might have helped Hillary win New Hampshire.
Expect a lot more of the taunts and the "Scoreboard!" rhetoric from Obama in his final twelve months. He has earned it, after all, defeating the unbeatable Hillary Clinton in 2008, and winning two presidential elections after that. He and Ronald Reagan are the only candidates in the past 50 years to get a popular-vote majority twice. He's the only American to ever receive 65 million votes, and he did it twice.
But Obama's frequent invocation of "I won," also highlights the narrowness of his political skills. Obama gives great speeches, has real political vision, is smart and surrounds himself with smart people. Yet he never really succeeded at his goal of building coalitions, making majorities, and moving Congress or the American public. The heavy lifting on Obamacare and Dodd-Frank was done mostly by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Obama also couldn't get other people elected. He couldn't save Ted Kennedy's seat in early 2010 or Pelosi's majority that fall. Not only did Democrats lose both chambers of Congress, they fell from controlling 27 state legislatures in 2009 to controlling only 11 in 2016 — from 26 governors to 18.
It turns out President Obama's political skills boil down to one thing: getting people to vote for him.
If trash-talking and winning votes go together, get ready for President Trump.
Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.