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.

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