We are heading into the last hours of the Obama administration with President Obama seemingly determined to leave his mark on history by promulgating as many executive orders, national monuments, and questionable pardons and commutations as he can in between the latest farewell appearance of him or Mrs. Obama. So far, the Obamas have had 17,834 farewell appearances though that total does not contain appearances that may have occurred over the past five hours.
The peaceful transition of power from one US President to another is said to be somewhat unique in the world as is the extended time between the election in early November and the inauguration on the 20th of January. Originally, it was twice as long with the inauguration held in early March until the 20th Amendment changed that in 1933 to the January 20th date we now use. The reason for changing the date was that the four month interval gave too much time and temptation for an outgoing President to create problems for the incoming President either by trying to do last minute things or, much like Obama, purposely doing things that have to be undone, burying stalwarts into the permanent bureaucracy, and other impediments to the incoming administration.
Looking back at the previous two Presidents to leave office, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, it seems that Clinton was the more active of the two in terms of regulations and pardons during the transition. Clinton pardoned drug dealers, his no-account brother Roger, and fugitive financier Marc Rich whose wife Denise just happened to drop a satchel of cash and presumably herself in Bill Clinton’s lap. His staff also found time to trash parts of the White House including the juvenile act of removing all the W keys from keyboards which cost close to $5,000 alone to replace. As well, Clinton and his wife took china, silverware and furniture, though they apparently began that endeavor up to a year before they vacated the premises rather than wait for transition.
Bush was less active during his transition time, but did engage in two major policy actions: (1) signing the end of forces agreement with Iraq that Obama claims he was bound by when he pulled all American troops from Iraq in 2011, and (2) the wrong-headed bailout of the auto industry using TARP. He was otherwise restrained in his executive orders and pardons, and there were no trashing or stealing incidents.
In terms of the Presidency, both Clinton and Bush went pretty much off into the night. They visited with their successors once or twice and made the occasional joint appearance that required ex-Presidents to attend. Otherwise they were a portrait on the wall and said about as much about the administration that succeeded them. It does turn out, however, that Clinton and Bush spoke on a somewhat regular basis while Bush was in office, but it was out of public view.
Then there is Barack Hussein Obama whose exit from the stage is one long slog of chest thumping and me me me with generous helpings of the same fawning adulation from the media that swept him into office. Amidst all this, Obama cannot help but take veiled shots at his successor, Donald Trump. What does this portend for the time after Obama leaves office? Anything but silence, apparently.
Speaking on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Obama threw down the gauntlet on two issues—Muslims and illegal aliens—that will bring him out publicly against Trump.
“There may be occasions where, even in the first year, if I think core values of ours are being threatened. I mean, I’ve said this, if I thought a Muslim registry was being set up that violates the Constitution and violates who we are and would make us less safe because it’d make it easier for groups like ISIL to recruit and radicalize homegrown terrorists, I might have to say something about that.
“If I saw Dream Act kids — young people who were brought here as children who are for all intents and purposes Americans — suddenly being rounded up, contrary to who we are as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, I might have to say something about.”
No doubt there are other issues that Obama will feel equally strong about in voicing his post-Presidency opinion because members of his staff have told various reporters to expect him to step in whenever he feels that policies he put in place are threatened by Trump. Given that pretty much everything Obama did is in the Trump administration crosshairs from repealing Obamacare to increasing defense spending to rolling back environmental and other regulations to building a border wall and no longer tolerating illegal immigration, it seems that Obama is not going to be a portrait on a White House wall but instead a talking bass spewing endless inanities and generally making a nuisance of himself.