In the final weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama downplayed the idea that he would criticize his successor from the sidelines. Noting his appreciation for the way George W. Bush stayed silent during his own presidency, Obama said he would try to extend the same courtesy to Donald Trump.
He made it exactly 10 days before giving in to the irresistible impulse to jump back into the fray. After protests erupted as a result of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, Obama released a statement through spokesman Kevin Lewis:
“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” the statement said. “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
As far as statements go, this one was pretty mild. If it were made by someone else, it would hardly get any attention at all. It didn’t mention Donald Trump and it only offered veiled criticism in the last few words. If Obama had released a statement like this a year or two into Trump’s presidency, we might have even applauded #44 for his restraint.
According to Politico, though, Obama is merely biding his time:
Obama knows there are many much more drastic measures that he might want to speak out on, and he’s saving more direct intervention for maximum impact, people familiar with his thinking say. He knows he only gets one chance at it being the first time that he takes on Trump himself.
“He’ll know the right time,” said one person involved. “He will have the best sense of when he needs to do it directly.”
Seeing as how he couldn’t even make it a month before releasing a statement through his spokesperson, we don’t imagine we’ll have to wait long for “the right time” to arrive. Free from the constraints of the presidency, Obama is getting back in touch with his community-organizer persona and, undoubtedly, his Marxist roots. After pretending (badly) to be a moderate Democrat for eight years, he’s itching to let his true colors fly.
In some ways, we hope he grabs the microphone early and often. The more air Obama sucks out of the room, the less will be left for the next big Democrat star. That bodes well for 2020. On the other hand, President Trump seems to have taken a liking to his predecessor, just as Obama became friends with Bush. That kind of relationship can prove invaluable; after all, there aren’t many men who know what it’s like to sit in the Oval Office. There are plenty who can sit back and criticize the president.
If we’re counting on Barack Obama’s best judgement, though, we are bound to be disappointed.