I simply couldn't ignore the lament of our obsequious Vice President, Mike Pence, that Barack Obama had the audacity to come off the political sidelines and join in the political game. Apparently our good Vice President sees President Obama's participation in active politics as unseemly, unpresidential, and far beneath Mr. Obama's dignity as a former President of the United States. Clearly the Vice President is distraught at the prospect of facing withering denunciations from a former occupant of the White House who has something more than a fourth grade mentality.
I understand it is the custom of former Presidents to maintain a discrete silence about the performance of their successors in office. For one thing it carries with it the unmistakable scent of sour grapes. For another, such criticism makes the job of being President that much more difficult and the consensus is that former Presidents ought to understand the difficulties of being President and therefore do everything in their power to make things as easy as possible for their successors.
Generally speaking, I think that's a fine tradition. And I'm fairly sure President Obama would have loved to have honored it, but for one teeny-tiny objection, namely President Trump's total obsession with trying to obliterate every last vestige of the Obama presidency. I know I might have taken offense at that kind of behavior if I had been President of the United States. It shows a fundamental lack of respect that's almost impossible to ignore.
Let's get down to brass tacks here. It has always been my contention that an important component of the American political culture is retaliation. It is considered more than a bit wimpish for a politician to sit back and take criticism without pushing back, at least a little bit. One of the major criticisms of Barack Obama's tenue in office, at least from a liberal or progressive point of view, was the fact that he took criticism, particularly unfair criticism, too lightly, that he refused to respond in kind. An accusation NO ONE would make about the Trump Presidency, by the way.
Naturally, a President from one political party will do things differently than his predecessor from the opposite political tradition. I'm sure Barack Obama is not so sensitive that he doesn't understand that. And if Donald Trump had limited himself to legitimate criticism of debatable public policy questions, Barack Obama would have respected the tradition of discrete silence that has been observed by other former Presidents. But Donald Trump just couldn't limit himself to simple constructive criticism. He had to make things up, like accusing the Obama Administration of using illegal wiretaps to undermine the Trump campaign for President. It's one thing to stand silent when you're critiqued legitimately, it something entirely other to remain mute while being verbally pummeled with lies and distortions.
So, let me say to Vice President Pence, your criticism of President Obama is a lot of horse hockey. I'm sure when the time comes that Donald Trump becomes a former President himself, he will be a vociferous defender of his term of office. Beyond that, however, I am positive that he will defend himself from false and scurrilous attacks on his record that are proven to be entirely untrue. Let me suggest to you, Mr. Vice President, that if you and President Trump has spent more time passing significant pieces of legislation rather than making up fairy tales about President Obama's record, perhaps then our 44th President would be more decorous and more considerate of the tough job you and President Trump took on. It might behoove you and President Trump to consider these words, "what goes around, comes around!".
Filed under: Politics