Former President Obama weighed in on Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Monday. However, that statement didn’t come directly from Obama but from a spokesperson. That choice was intentional as Obama is said to be aware he only gets one chance to confront Trump directly the first time. From Politico:
He decided he finally had to say something about the immigration executive order that’s sparked outrage across the country. But he decided he couldn’t say it himself—not yet, at least…
Obama knows there are many much more drastic measures that he might want to speak out on, and he’s saving more direct intervention for maximum impact, people familiar with his thinking say. He knows he only gets one chance at it being the first time that he takes on Trump himself.
So what is Obama waiting for? My first guess is that he will go after Trump the moment we see people being deported. Obama failed on comprehensive immigration reform so he may feel obligated to try to make up for that in retirement. On second thought, wouldn’t Obama want to save his first big lecture for the repeal of Obamacare? The problem there is that most of the action on Obamacare will be taking place in Congress. So maybe what we’ll have is a series of firsts. The first time he takes on Trump. The first time he takes on Paul Ryan. The first time he takes on the Supreme Court.
Speaking of which, Obama probably won’t say much about Judge Gorsuch. However, if one of the liberals on the court retires and Trump nominates a conservative, pro-lifer to replace him (or more likely her), then I think Obama will join in the frenzy of denunciation. We have so much to look forward to.
Democrats are said to be wary that Obama could make himself the face of the opposition. That wouldn’t be helpful given that it would be a dramatic break from the behavior of previous former presidents and given that Obama has no actual power to do much of anything.
At least one Democrat suggests Obama has already blown it by being too respectful to Trump. Rep. Ted Lieu tells Politico, “In hindsight, I believe it was wrong for Barack Obama to normalize Donald Trump.” In other words, Lieu thinks the outgoing President of the United States should have thrown down a gauntlet of some sort against the President-elect. The point has been made many times, but these are the same people who, just a few months ago, were warning about the danger to American democracy presented by challenging the legitimate winner of an election.