Former President Obama has had a couple of words to say about the current administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, he stated that their response was an “absolute chaotic disaster”. He also seemingly had a couple of comments about their leadership during his virtual commencement address for the “Graduate Together” event last weekend. Now, depending on which side of political aisle that you fall on, you think his comments are abhorrent or that he’s preaching to the choir. However, this poses an important question: Should former presidents publicly criticize the actions of a current president, and vice versa?
I thought that Obama’s comments were not appropriate, no matter the setting in which he said them. I think it cheapens his image and legacy as President. I understood his message that you should challenge those in authority when it is necessary. However, the fact that there is an implication that he was saying that those involved with the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force and Cabinet don’t know what they’re doing is not okay. It’s okay to have an opinion; it’s clear that the Obama and Trump Administrations have different views of the world and how the country should be running. Whomever the former president is, regardless of political party, should let the current president succeed or crash and burn. Their comments should be kept to themselves. Remember the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Put yourself in their shoes. Every president is criticized by the media, general public, etc.
Obama is not the first one to criticize his successor. This has happened in the past, going back as far as Theodore Roosevelt. Bush 43 criticized Obama’s foreign policy, Clinton criticized the War in Iraq, Carter criticized Reagan’s response to the Iran-Contra affair, Ford criticized Carter’s fiscal and energy policies, etc. Does this make it right? Is it worth not having that network of former president’s for advice?
It’s also no secret that President Trump has had issues with Obama, even prior to being elected president (Birther conspiracy theory, hello?), in addition to George W. Bush (Trump did not support the War in Iraq). However, it would be in his better interest to keep his mouth shut about his opinions on the jobs of his predecessors. For example, he recently blamed the Obama Administration for the lack of stockpile of ventilators for the Coronavirus Pandemic. Even though his comments make no sense at all, placing the blame on your predecessors shows no accountability and makes you look like a whiny toddler. You are the president. Just do it. Don’t sit there and bitch and moan that something wasn’t handed to you on a silver (or gold) platter.
Is it worth cheapening your legacy or current image as the leader of the free world? Sometimes, an internal filter is just the thing to save yourself from a headline or a midnight tweet.