Obama Already Out of Retirement

Ex-president gives successor exactly 10 days before making public criticism

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 30 Jan 2017 at 8:45 PM

Well, that didn’t last long.

Former President Obama said just before leaving office that he wanted to give the new administration space — unless President Donald Trump took some sort of extreme action.

“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.”

“But there’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Obama said at his final news conference as president.

It took all of 10 days for Obama to decide that criteria had been met by Trump’s executive order suspending the Syrian refugee programs and temporarily blocking other refugees and freezing travel from seven high-risk countries.

“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” his spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said in a statement. “In his final official speech as president, he spoke about the important role of citizens and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day.”

Lewis added: “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.”

Michael Johns, who served as a speechwriter in the administration of George H.W. Bush, said it is unseemly for Obama to criticize his successor.

"This is entirely unprecedented in modern presidential politics and violates the unstated decorum that generally has governed the conduct of presidents after leaving office," said Johns, who is president and executive director of Tea Party Community. "Everything Trump has done in the first week is truly consistent with what he promised he would do."

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said he figured Obama would be "psychologically incapable" of staying quiet during the Trump administration.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," he said. "I'm surprised it took him so long."

Krikorian said Obama seems poised to be the "fantasy president" for people who supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Johns said he was taken aback by the ferocity of the response to what amounts to a short-term pause in travel from some of the most dangerous countries on earth.

"The reaction, to me, is stunning," he said. "There's nothing that's unprecedented."

Krikorian said part of the blowback stems from Trump's talk on the campaign trail of a total Muslim ban. He revised that position — but even though the executive order is not a Muslim ban, Krikorian said it primed the opposition to react strongly when the president did make his move.

Krikorian said numerous pronouncements that Trump is violating the Constitution arose from a basic misunderstanding of the distinction between citizens and legal residents on the one hand, and foreigners on the other.

"It's more of this phony notion that the Constitution applies to foreigners living abroad," he said.

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