Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, and now Barack Obama.
What do the above have in common?
They have all been- and in many cases continue to be- targets of President Donald Trump.
However, recently, President Trump has launched attack after attack on former President Barack Obama, lambasting the former Commander-in-Chief’s presidential legacy and questioning Obama’s role in the Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump is also doing all he can to chip away Obama’s signature achievements in office, as he continues to push for his new healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. He also withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a key climate change accord the United States joined under Obama. Trump has also dramatically changed the U.S. attitude and relationship with Iran and Cuba, two countries Obama tried to build a diplomatic relationship with.
And while Obama must surely be concerned with Trump’s actions, he has largely refrained from confronting and criticizing Trump at all, following through on his promise that he would stay out of the political sphere once he left office.
Still, Obama is being extremely honorable by not striking back at Trump. Presidents generally refrain from criticizing subsequent administration. This is largely because of the symbolism of the office of Presidency; the office and title should always be more important than the the holder of the office, and criticism from previous office holders would only denigrate the position.
Recently, Trump has criticized Obama because it has been revealed that the Obama administration was aware of Russian meddling in the election as it was happening. Trump and his aides argue that Obama didn’t take any action at all and that Obama is responsible for the Russian scandal by failing to act.
Trump’s claim isn’t entirely accurate. Obama did confront Putin directly and imposed more sanctions on Russia. The reason Obama didn’t push further was because he did not want to be perceived as interfering in the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Also, he was concerned that Putin would escalate Russian hacking.
From Trump’s viewpoint, he has now diverted the attention of the Russian scandal away from him and assigned blame to someone else — Obama. At the very least, Trump has injected issues that make the investigation of the Russian scandal murkier.
Still, even if Trump succeeds in hurting Obama’s legacy and obfuscating the investigation into Russian hacking, he will likely face backlash from the American people who are still protesting his decisions on the healthcare bill, travel ban, immigration, and climate change.
Trump still has a ways to go before he can claim a solid victory.