As Election Day drew near, there were some not-always-quiet concerns about exactly how President Barack Obama would handle things if, despite all odds and predictions, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were somehow to win the presidency.
Well, Trump did win, and if what Obama said Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Garden of the White House is any indication, the transition between the outgoing and incoming administrations should go relatively smoothly, according to Politico.
Obama began his remarks by noting that he had congratulated Trump on his victory, and stated that “(w)e are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
“It is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences,” Obama said. “But, remember, eight years ago President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running.”
“So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect,” Obama said.
Obama remarked that he had spoken with both Trump and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton that morning, and declared himself to be “heartened” by Trump’s conciliatory tone in both his victory speech and their own private conversation.
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election — but the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage,” Obama explained in his own effort to be conciliatory. “We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.”
He further offered some consolation and encouragement for Democrats dejected by the outcome, saying, “I also told my team today to keep their heads up.”
“That’s the way politics works sometimes,” he added. “We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right and then people vote and then if we lose we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off and we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.”
This was quite a remarkable shift in tone for the president, who has spent the past several weeks on the campaign trail bashing his now-elected successor as unfit and unqualified.
While Obama’s kind words and promise of a smooth transition were quite welcome and appreciated, we can only wonder where this particular Obama has been for the past eight years.
Better late than never, though.
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