In the final press conference of his presidency, Barack Obama indicated that he would be ready and willing to jump back into the political fray if he felt the need to publicly criticize the Trump administration. While Obama has said he appreciated George W. Bush’s decision to keep his silence after leaving office, he told reporters on Wednesday that he could not promise to do the same.
“There’s a difference between the normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Obama said.
On the latter, Obama said, he would feel compelled to speak out.
“I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion,” he said. “I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids, and send them someplace else, when they love this country.”
So then…let’s try to translate this out of ObamaSpeak. He will leave his cozy Washington, D.C. mansion and find a television camera when:
- Trump puts new vetting policies in place for Muslim immigrants from terrorist havens
- The GOP ensures that voter ID laws are passed and enforced, thus reducing fraud
- Trump starts cracking down on illegal immigration
- …and any other time Obama feels our “core values” are in jeopardy. Those values, of course, having more to do with his own agenda than the true principles of the United States.
No, anyone who expects Barack Obama to quietly fade into the background of American politics is likely to be disappointed. This president has been in love with his own celebrity since he first came to national prominence in 2004, and he’s not about to cede the spotlight to Donald Trump.