There is a sort of unofficial tradition in this country that ex-Presidents of the United States generally remain silent on major legal and policy matters pushed by their successors. For example, George W. Bush has been widely praised for essentially saying next to nothing about his successor after leaving office in 2009. However, a new report published Sunday morning suggests the soon to be former-President Obama may not give his successor the same courtesy.
It is well known that the Obamas plan to remain in Washington, D.C. post presidency so their youngest daughter can finish out high school without having to change schools. Despite becoming the first past-president to remain in D.C. in nearly a century, Obama had suggested in previous interviews that he would mostly remain out of the political fray post-presidency.
That is not to say he has plans to leave the public spotlight entirely, but it was suggested by top Obama aides that he did not plan to fully embrace the Bill Clinton post presidency model. In fact, Obama said this summer his post-presidency plan was simply to “go back to doing the kinds of work that I was doing before, just trying to find ways to help people.”
All of that, of course, was said before Donald Trump scored an Election Day victory that many in Obama’s inner-circle almost certainly never saw coming.
Perhaps that is why on Sunday The New York Times is reporting that Obama is now “rethinking his plans to withdraw from the political arena” when his term ends in January 2017. In fact, buried deep in the article, you’ll find it literally says as much:
For Mr. Obama, a return to the partisan fray was never the intention.
. . .
But that vision assumed that his presidential legacy would be protected and nurtured by Mrs. Clinton in the Oval Office.
According to the Times report, Obama began “hinting” to friends and allies almost immediately in the aftermath of Trump’s win that he would soon join in efforts to oppose Trump’s presidency.
The largest hint to date came in a recent speech to Democratic activists where Obama told them, “You’re going to see me early next year, and we’re going to be in a position where we can start cooking up all kinds of great stuff to do.”
The reason he is waiting until after the transition is reportedly because Obama still “holds out hope that he might influence Mr. Trump” during the transition process.
But if his efforts at influencing the president-elect fail, the newspaper notes Obama has “made it clear that once out of office he will not remain silent if Mr. Trump goes too far in undoing his legacy.”
It remains to be seen what influence Obama will have post presidency, but we will likely find out quickly if Republicans make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare. Or even sooner, perhaps, if Trump acts with the promised urgency to rescind Obama’s immigration executive actions.
[image via Evan El-Amin/shutterstock]