Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, there were moments when Trump’s critics felt former President Barack Obama should have spoken out about comments that had been coming out of the White House, from climate change to repealing the Affordable Care Act, and to allegations that the Obama administration had his “wires tapped” during the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.
One such comment included Trump saying, “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” Trump even accused Obama of coddling Iran, saying: “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” (via MSN).
Obama spoke up about his silence
So when 60 Minutes asked Obama about the criticism that he wasn’t strong enough with his successor, Obama admitted that his silence could be seen as a misstep, but he also said there was a reason. “I think that’s a legitimate and understandable criticism. At the end of the day, I consistently tried to treat my political opposition in the ways I’d want to be treated, to not overreact when, for example, somebody yells, ‘You lie,’ in the middle of me giving a joint congressional address,” he tells CBS, which seemed to echo Michelle Obama’s 2016 campaign call of “when they go low, we go high” (via CNBC).
“I understand why there were times where my supporters wanted me to be more pugilistic, to, you know, pop folks in the head and duke it out a little bit more,” Obama says.
That all changed when Obama hit the road as a surrogate for his successor, Joe Biden, but one Obama adviser told CNN that the tone had changed on purpose, because the former president may have wanted to “leave a little in the tank” so that he could “go there” toward the end. “He has been selective on when he has weighed in to preserve his ability to, in the home stretch, make the most pointed case possible about the current occupant of the White House and have people pay close attention,” the unnamed adviser said.
Obama believes Trump is not the cause of the country's division
The former president still says that to this day that he believes that holding his peace was not a mistake. “Every president brings a certain temperament to office. I think part of the reason I got elected was because I sent a message that fundamentally I believe the American people are good and decent, and that politics doesn’t have to be some cage match in, in which everybody is, is going at each other’s throats and that we can agree without being disagreeable,” he says.
Even as Obama points out that he and Trump have nothing in common, he refused to pin the country’s divisions on his predecessor; though Obama admitted Trump has played a role in inflaming divisions around the country. “That may be the one thing that Donald Trump and I agree on, is that he doesn’t agree with me on anything. I don’t see him as the cause for our divisions and the problems with our government. I think he’s an accelerant, but they preceded him and sadly are gonna likely outlast him” (via CBS).
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