Obama Left Trump With Sound Advice
Following presidential tradition, outgoing President Barack Obama left incoming President Donald Trump a handwritten letter, in the drawer of the Resolute Desk.
The letter was a little longer than the letters of their predecessors, and offered specific pieces of advice, in a tone that strove for unity after a very bitter battle. The letter marks the last time the two leaders had direct communication with one another. And, despite Trump’s frequent and open insults to Obama, it’s reported that he “cherishes” the letter Obama left for him.
Dear Mr. President –
Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.
This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.
Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.
Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,
Obama’s Words Seem Prescient
Seven months into the Trump presidency, Obama’s words to his immediate predecessor seem prescient, with its focus on American leadership and international order. In particular, the reminder to Trump that presidents are merely “temporary occupants of this office” and that, as such, the occupants of the office should leave “those instruments of democracy at least as strong as we found them” – regardless of the cheap political gains to be made from flouting them, as Trump has so often done already, rings particularly loud.
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But most of all, the letter should make us weep in its simple reminder of what it was like, once upon a time, when America had a leader who was eloquent, literate, with an understanding of history and democracy, and a deep, abiding respect for the office he held.
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