Obama tries out the high road on Trump
President Barack Obama on Monday abandoned his dire warnings and dark predictions about his newly elected successor and urged Americans to give President-elect Donald Trump time to rise to the daunting responsibilities of the office, breaking sharply from his Democratic allies who have quickly condemned Trump’s first major decisions.
In his first extended remarks on the election that pounded his party and his legacy, Obama sought to reassure an anxious world and nation about his successor’s commitments to alliances, at times appearing almost sanguine about a future Trump administration.
Although he would not explicitly say Trump was qualified for the office, he said he believed the first-time officeholder would do his best to unite the nation, calling him pragmatic.
He refused to wade into a political firestorm over Trump’s decision to name a far-right conservative media mogul as a top adviser. And he expressed hope that the weight of the presidency will force Trump to overcome his shortcomings.
“He has won. He’s going to be the next president, and regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up,” Obama said. “And some of his gifts that obviously allowed him to execute one of the biggest political upsets in history, those are ones that hopefully he will put to good use on behalf of all the American people.”
Obama’s refusal to criticize his successor was a 180-degree reversal from the rhetoric of his campaign takedowns. Only a week ago, as he campaigned for Hillary Clinton, Obama said Trump was “woefully unprepared for the job” and couldn’t “handle the nuclear codes”.
Obama’s latest remarks bore little resemblance to the calls for resistance coming from other Democrats and many of Obama’s supporters. As they come to grips with Trump’s surprising win, many Democrats have seized on a call not to accept or “normalize” the actions of a man who ran a divisive campaign that included charges of racism, sexism and other offensive rhetoric and actions.
But Obama, who was the target of some of that rhetoric, has embraced the role of national hand-holder.
US President Barack Obama particpates in a news conference at the White House in Washington, US, on Monday.