Sunday, November 20, 2016


The New York Times reports that Barack Obama might take an active role in anti-Trump politics after he leaves office:
President Obama is rethinking his plans to withdraw from the political arena after he leaves office next year, hinting to friends and supporters that he wants to add his voice to the shellshocked Democratic activists and elected officials who are now angrily vowing to oppose Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

White House aides say they expect the president to try to refrain from criticism during the transition because of his belief in the importance of a courteous and dignified transfer of power. But while the president holds out hope that he might influence Mr. Trump, he has made it clear that once out of office he will not remain silent if Mr. Trump goes too far in undoing his legacy.

“I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen,” Mr. Obama, who will be living a few miles from the White House next year, told a meeting this past week of Organizing for Action, the group that maintains his political movement. “But that’s not so far off.”
A few days ago, when Jonathan Chait suggested that this might happen, I wrote:
Chait correctly notes that "the political-cultural norm of former presidents’ steering clear of politics is not rooted in any particular public interest" -- but a violation of this norm will horrify mainstream political insiders, as well as the right-wing noise machine. If Obama tosses this custom aside, the big news in any statement he makes will be decision to make the statement.... Whatever he's upset about will be a secondary consideration.
That's already happening. Here's part of the response to the Times story from Chris White at the Mediaite offshoot Law Newz:
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.
And here's an angrier response from Jay Caruso at RedState:
An unwritten rule in the world of Presidential politics is former Presidents do not criticize the current President. It’s almost like the mindset of a fraternity. Granted, not all Presidents uphold this tradition. Jimmy Carter is a notable exception. He never shied away from offering his stupid opinions about Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W. Bush. Bill Clinton upheld the tradition when GWB was President. George W. Bush despite always being blamed by President Obama for his troubles, even five to six years into his presidency, has remained gracious throughout Obama’s term, saying little about Obama’s lousy performance during his tenure.

Now comes word Barack Obama won’t try all that hard to keep his nose out of presidential politics once he leaves office....

What kind of mindset does a person have that they telegraph they’re going to break protocol and criticize a sitting President?
That's right: Barack Obama is going to be attacked for daring to violate political norms, months after the election of Donald Trump. Trump will continue to get away with violating every political norm that stands between him and what he wants, while Obama will be excoriated, by conservatives and (inevitably) by mandarins of the Beltway mainstream, for violating one norm, even though he'll be doing so at a moment of genuine crisis in America.

I hope he tries anyway, and I hope his efforts matter. But I still think the political world will argue that it's Just Not Done.


Victor said...

"How dare Obama!", the MSM DC cocktail circuit villagers will scream, as they keep trying their best to normalize that ignorant loon t-RUMP and his bigoted "Spray-tan Clan."

Fuck 'em, Obama!
Keep fighting for America!
FSM almost half of the voters didn't...

rclz said...

Victor you and I are on the same wave length.

Every time I read one of these stories the only thing that comes to mind is Fuck 'em.

Unknown said...

Not only has Trump violated every political norm, he's violated every norm of decent human behavior.

Ken_L said...

As far as I can tell, it's an "unwritten rule" because it only exists in the media's imagination. Truman campaigned against Eisenhower. Theodore Roosevelt was so politically active after he left the White House, he even decided to run again for a different party.

The truth is that most presidents have either died in office, or been so ill (e.g. Eisenhower, Reagan) or politically discredited (e.g. Nixon, Carter, Bush Jnr) that their prospects for playing a constructive further role for their party were negligible.

Redleg said...

Every time I hear one of these delicate flowers complain about stuff like this I think about how Trump and his most vocal supporters violated almost every norm of civil discourse, and continue to do so. I recall the Trump supporters with their "Fuck your feelings" T-shirts. I recall the images of Hillary Clinton imprisoned or lynched, with the words "bitch" or "cunt" affixed to her effigy.

Bush didn't need to criticize Obama, as he had the entire right-wing noise machine and Republican elected officials to do it for him.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Conservatives would love this. It will allow them to distract the Trumpenproletariat with outrage at dastardly Obama still harming America whilst Trump et al busy themselves stealing everything in sight and enshrining neofeudalism.

Feud Turgidson said...

LawNewz is Mediaite spin-off. Both sites are deep into extreme bothsiderism as clickbait. The LawNewz view of what's "right" is pretty much Breitbartian, and it's view of what's "left" is basically something between daytime CNN and Morning Joe - anything left of that is treated as loony. The site is operated something like an online version of when Hannity was teamed with Alan Colmes: tough talking Alpha-authoritarian ignoramus well to the fascist side of Attila the Hun, versus whiny wimp-wrested doormat of an apologetic Ailesian conception of a weak lib.

LawNewz is fronted by Wee widdew Danny Abrams (NB: friend to Jarod Kushner), the self-important silver-spoon-born offspring of an actual for real media law expert, Floyd. I don't trust the implication that wee widdew DanDan actually owns that dirty little sewage treatment plan: more the money backing it is out of the ME or even Russia. Widdew Danoid's main contribution appears to be putting his signature to typically boring Broderesque legalese pronouncements on What The Law Sez, mostly expressing the most turgid yet disengaged take on a subject that's boiling over in pretty much the exact opposite direction in the cesspits of bigotry and misogyny that follow just about every post on that evil twitching monstrous little perversion of the First Amendment.

There are several outright liars writing for LawNewz, a lot of them scions of the Rich & Famous in politics & media (It seems to work a lot like Wingnut Welfare for the younger set.) At least 2 others are in White's league as a purveyor of toxicity and fake news, but none are worse than him: he's the lyingest by just about every measure imaginable, a reflexive tool of the worst take one can envision coming up over cocktails at Heritage Action. I don't think it's coincidental that White's also the most overt racist on the extreme right of that putrid site. The Hill online at least virtually admits to being a tool of Heritage and AEI; LawNewz actually pretends to know something about the subjects they post on.

And if you want to know what I really think ...

Never Ben Better said...

Please, Feud, stop holding in your true feelings; it's not good for you. You're in a sage* space here.

* I meant "safe" of course, but the typo was just too good to fix.