When Donald Trump won the election last fall, many people wondered if Obama would be as courteous as his predecessor George W. Bush. Would Obama be able to fade into the background and stay out of policy debates?
Now we know the answer is no. The spotlight is simply too alluring for Obama, who revels in attention. He is even mirroring Trump’s actions in some ways.
Alex Pfeiffer writes at the Daily Caller:
Shadow President? Obama Meets With South Korean President To Discuss Trump
Former President Barack Obama seems to be feeling nostalgic for his old job, meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Monday for 40 minutes.
The Korea Herald reported that Moon spoke about his recent meetings with President Trump in Washington and asked Obama for his advice on how to improve that relationship.
The meeting came after Obama spoke at the Asian Leadership Conference and the Fourth Congress of Indonesian Diaspora in Jakarta. There he attacked Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord.
“In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history about climate change, an agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership can still give our children a fighting chance,” Obama said in Indonesia.
The former president had said before leaving office that he appreciated his predecessor George W. Bush’s silence during his tenure, but also contended that he’s “still a citizen and that carries with it duties and obligations.”
FOX News covered this last night. Be sure to watch to the end to hear Marie Harf, formerly of the State Department under Obama, trying to defend his actions.
This is not a new development. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote at Politico in May:
How Obama not so subtly undercuts Trump
When they realized former President Barack Obama was going to be in Berlin the same day President Donald Trump was going to be in Brussels, Angela Merkel was the one who called the White House to break the news.
The German chancellor invited Obama to the event in front of the Brandenburg Gate last year, before the election. Officially part of a multi-day gathering sponsored by the Protestant church in Germany, focused on youth and highlighting an exchange program between Berlin and Chicago, it was really about letting Obama boost his friend ahead of her fall reelection campaign and begin the international phase of his own post-presidency.
But, as soon as he accepted earlier this year, it also became an integral piece of Obama’s approach to Trump: present the contrast by continuing to pop up, push back on the sense that Trump’s winning while barely saying a word explicitly about Trump.
The only request the former president’s aides made of the organizers of the Berlin event was it not be structured as an Obama versus Trump debate. Other than that, they said, “the conversation can go where it will.”
“In this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves. We can’t hide behind a wall,” Obama said Thursday, in the closest he came to directly taking on his successor.
Obama walks a fine line by not mentioning Trump or his policies explicitly but what he’s doing is clear.
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