President Obama : Silence, Complicity and Duplicity – By Yvonne Sam

– By Yvonne Sam

Tradition and protocol is clear today—past presidents must avoid temptation to reenter the political foray. Let the world see the maintenance of presidential dignity.

As President Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States of America took the oath of office in 2009, George Walker Bush the outgoing president,  wished him well and exited the political stage determine to never publicly criticize his successor.  Irregardless of how bellicose folks thought George W was, or how poorly the economy fared under his administration, he nevertheless kept the vow for the entire eight years of Obama’s presidency. Even in the face of being repeatedly attacked by Obama, and having many of his policies reversed, nary a word escaped his lips. He is quoted as saying: “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president.” Customarily former presidents do not criticize their successor.    

At the outset it appeared as if Obama, the legatee of Bush’s grace and decency, would follow the example of the 43rd president, remain silent and do the race proud. This was not to be, for soon after President Trump moved to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Barack Obama moved in quickly with a viral Facebook post.  Again in little over 19 months President Obama made a speech to students at the University of Illinois, at which point he notified the students that it was his full intention to adhere to the tradition of ex-presidents and gracefully withdraw from the political stage, but had changed his mind because “this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who it is that we are.” Gone was any semblance of presidential dignity. Instead of rallying the Democrats around a set of principles that did not involve attacking the sitting president, Obama initiated a full frontal assault on his successor. President Trump, Obama warned, is a “threat to our democracy” who rose to power by “tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division.” In fact he castigated not just Trump but all Republicans.  The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party,” he declared. Republicans are “subsidizing corporate polluters,” “weakening worker protections,” “shrinking the safety net,” “attacking voting rights” and “cozying up to Russia” — all while campaigning on an “appeal to racial nationalism that’s barely veiled.” As far as modern memory stretches it was the most hyperpartisan speech ever delivered by a former president.

In actuality, one can ask what message President Obama is trying to get across. He further ranted, “When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.” On an ironical note, in 2016, that was the exact message that caused Obama voters to change to Trump. Polls revealed that in 2016, half of Obama-Trump voters said their incomes were falling behind the cost of living, while another 31 percent said their incomes were merely keeping pace. Still during the election, they repeatedly kept hearing from Democrats how well the economy was doing and that they should be grateful for eight years of Obama. Well, now their lives are finally improving — and they are grateful to Trump. The American National Election Study found that 13 percent of Trump voters in 2016 backed Obama in 2012. A Washington Post analysis after the 2016 election found that, of the nearly 700 counties that twice voted for Obama, one-third went for Trump.

Although not on a finger pointing expedition it should be recalled that in his first State of the Union address on January 27, 2010 before Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Obama did not mention one word about the impact of the recession on the Blacks, but instead spoke of the 25 tax cuts that businesses had been given with more on the way. As Obama left office polls have showed that black people were more satisfied with Obama the man and less with their progress under Obama the president.

If President Obama felt that to be silent while Donald Trump continues his shenanigans, brouhahas and political bloops was indicative of complicity, the awful truth is he was duped. During the last elections did he not preach to the same congregation, warning them about Donald Trump?  It is clear that the message did not get across, based on the Democratic loss. In allowing Obama to seemingly break the presidential rule, we all miss a key lesson of his presidency.  For example in the Obamacare fight, an insurgent movement gained ground from voters of every stripe. White Republicans voters in Arkansas passionately defended Obamacare to their senator.

Now loosed from the political binds of the presidency, Obama should remain cool, not be fooled and above all be guided by the existing presidential rule.  By breaking his silence and displaying his known oratorial skills  he may the Democrats chance of success at the 2020 elections kill. Plainly put or from a politically correct perspective while Obama’s America and his domestic vision of America is under unyielding attack from President Trump, silence would show the world that the President though a Negro would always be a hero.

Incidentally, President Obama is not the only president and White House resident who has rattled Washington’s unwritten presidential rules. Former president Jimmy Carter referred to the Bush administration as “the worst in history” for its impact around the world. Eisenhower was critical of the domestic policies of John F. Kennedy.  The first President Bush pounded on Bill Clinton for his Haiti policy, and  Nixon scolded the said 1st President Bush for comparing himself to Harry Truman in his 1992 re-election campaign.  Presidents Woodrow Wilson and William Taft felt the brunt of brutal assaults by Theodore Roosevelt, as related in the book When Trumpets call, authored by Patricia O’ Toole and written after Roosevelt left office.

Obama is now called upon to follow his predecessor’s lead and not on the black frenzy feed.

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  • Ron Saywack  On 09/19/2018 at 4:25 pm

    Yvonne Sam wrote: “Let the world see the maintenance of presidential dignity.”

    Under normal circumstances, this credo (decorum) would and should be adhered to by past presidents. But these are not normal times. The current occupant of the Oval Office is an aberration. He is not a normal president by any means (and some would argue, he’s not normal, period).

    If he was not elected president in the 2016 election, odds are, he would currently the subject of FBI investigations regarding his tax returns, sexual assaults, and other questionable matters. Now that he’s president, he wants the FBI to investigate matters only when it suits him but not when it is against his own vested interest – i.e., Professor Christine Ford.

    President Obama should be applauded for speaking up against the Bully. In fact, it would be a let-down of the American people if he didn’t.

    President Bush (43) and President Obama, at a forum in New York in October 2017, spoke out vehemently against the current occupant. For President Bush, it was a deviation from his decision to remain quiet. He also denounced a national trend that has “emboldened” bigotry and racism.

    He further stated at said forum: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism; forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.” He also defended free markets and international trade.

    Though not a strong president, Obama always tried to do as best he could amidst a strong wave of endless Republican obstructionism. Alas, not only should President Obama speak out against the tenant in the White House, so too should all living former presidents.

  • Hermina  On 09/20/2018 at 7:57 am

    Quite correct Ron. However, assist me in connecting the dots. Are these not the very same people who Obama and his wife warned about Trump prior to casting their votes in the last election? Was Trump not displaying the same behaviour as he is doing now? To quote your words wasn’t Trump an aberration from the “get go” .The American folks got the people they elected.
    In addition do you remember that Obama was facing the same sort of initial rejection by his own. He does not need to break presidential protocol in order to bring awareness and a change. The electorate know what to do.

    To set the record straight when the 43rd spoke on Thursday , October 19, 2017 it was at a forum on freedom, free markets and security under the auspices of the Bush Institute Spirit of Liberty in New York. .
    Note the headlines in U.S A Today of October 20, 2017:
    “George W. Bush delivers clear rebuke, without mentioning Trump by name”.

    It is evident that any similitude of an attack on the existing occupant of the White House was hidden behind the bush. Smart folks would have to guess the rest. He called no name so there is no protocol breaking shame.
    If President Obama wants to break protocol you see, then like Bush he should do it succinctly thereby mastering the art of diplomacy. His name would remain intact and that’s a fact.

    • Ron Saywack  On 09/20/2018 at 2:56 pm

      Hermina: There is no rule prohibiting a past president from criticizing his immediate successor. It is merely a tradition which, as previously stated, should be respected under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances (far from it) and Trump is by no means a normal successor, a normal president. In fact, he’s downright scary.

      You indicate that Obama’s “name” (legacy) is at risk by his explicit, open criticism of the current, unfit president. That is your opinion, not mine.

      You furtherly state that: “If President Obama wants to break protocol you see, then, like Bush, he should do it succinctly thereby mastering the art of diplomacy.”

      “Succinctly”? I don’t know what you mean by that. What is the difference between a succinct (brief) criticism as opposed to a lengthy one? Isn’t a criticism a criticism whether it is brief or lengthy, implicit or explicit?

      You also imply that this tradition, this unwritten rule is inviolable? I don’t agree. Again, you are merely expressing an opinion to which you are entitled. Everyone has an opinion, even past presidents, and whether a leveled criticism is implicit (Bush) or explicit (Obama), it is still a criticism.

      Therefore, President Bush is not preserving (or observing) a tradition in his implicit, ‘diplomatic’ criticism. He has, like other past presidents, departed from that tradition. And thus there is no harm and no foul. It was the morally right thing for him to do under these extraordinary circumstances and troubled times.

  • Ian Wishart  On 09/21/2018 at 6:36 am

    “Irregardless”? Does Yvonne Sam mean “regardless” or “irrespective”?

    • Emanuel  On 09/21/2018 at 7:10 am

      Good call, Ian. Looks like some missed a lesson in language class.

  • Ian Wishart  On 09/21/2018 at 6:41 am

    Another comment: “do the race proud”. Which race, his father’s, his mother’s or the human?

  • Hermina  On 09/21/2018 at 2:05 pm

    To the two bright fellows, Ian & Emmanuel whom I personally think is in no position to correct grammar, as they appear to be the ones in dire need of lexicon training let alone a lesson in language class

    Irregardless is a word sometimes used in place of regardless or irrespective which has caused controversy since the early twentieth century, though the word appeared in print as early as 1795

    Definition of Irregardless
    adjective & adverb informal
    Irregardless is a nonstandard synonym for regardless, which means “without concern as to advice,

    Oxford Dictionary says: Irregardless means the same as regardless,

    I think here “regardless of” can be used in place of “irrespective of”. It seems “regardless of” covers all the meaning of “irrespective of”, but not vice versa.For instance, I think in the following sentence, “regardless of” can not be replaced by “irrespective of”

    • Emanuel  On 09/21/2018 at 4:14 pm

      Yvonne (Hermina),

      It is ludicrous to you irregardless. You are the only to use in the modern age, no one else does. Please stop using it, it makes you look bad.

      • Emanuel  On 09/21/2018 at 5:07 pm

        Mr Editor,

        Due to typos, please use this copy instead.

        Yvonne (Hermina),

        It is ludicrous to use “irregardless “ in the modern age. It is obsolete. As far as I am aware, no one else uses it. I’d ask you to refrain from using it, even if you think I have work to do with my grammar. I know that I have work to do.


  • walter  On 09/22/2018 at 9:39 am

    HI who gives a rat’s ass??????

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