Presidents and Predecessors
By JOHNSON VARGHESE | June 12, 2017
It has been almost five months since the transition from former President Barack Obama to current President Donald Trump. Neither has spoken to each other since Obama has left the White House, and both have gone on to on to live their separate lives. As of today, their relationship is believed to be nonexistent, according to White House advisers and former administration.
This dynamic, or lack thereof, is distinct from previous presidencies that have worked to maintain a form of presidential fraternity between living presidents. Trump has been known to ask his close confidantes, business partners, and other foreign leaders for guidance; not one past American president has been an advisor to the current president. Even with any job position in the world, one would ask their predecessor what it takes to work in that position or the various aspects of the job that may catch them off guard. Trump himself should decide for himself whether it might be time to contact former President Obama for help in a political arena he is completely unfamiliar with.
Obama made an effort after Trump’s presidential election victory in November to welcome the president-elect, so as to ease him into the presidency. As time has moved on, however, their communication has gone from distant and cold to becoming wholly nonexistent. In March, Trump posted tweets that accused Obama of ordering surveillance on the Trump Tower and wiretapping his offices. This claim was discredited multiple times and eventually the White House would back down on its accusation. There was minor communicative effort regarding this incident that never came to fruition.
Former President Obama and current President Trump’s relationship has only continued to sour, and this has been destructive to the presidential fraternity that has existed in previous terms. Their current relationship shows that only good can come out of a conversation between the two. With the current president in a mire of political problems stemming from poor decision making, advice from former President Obama could only help Trump at this time.
Early on in his presidency, Trump has been faced with polarizing dilemmas such as the flight travel ban and the Russian intelligence investigation. This political witch hunt regarding the interference of Russian intelligence has led to a blemish on Trump as a president and his approval rating. With calls for his presence before the Senate Committee and talk of impeachment on the rise, Trump must decide what is best for him and his country. While Trump is in the middle of political chaos, this would appear to be the perfect time to ask his predecessor for advice. President Obama as president-elect contacted all the living presidents to have a meeting to provide him with the best advice to enter his new position.
Whether or not President Trump agrees with Obama, or even earlier predecessors, should not reflect his decision to ask for advice. With little political experience before taking up the presidency, Trump does not appear to be prepared enough on his own to take up a role so vital to American government and society. House Speaker Paul Ryan himself has said that the president is “new to this” and claimed that the indiscretions of his actions should not reflect his ability to be president. This claim alone, made by a leader in the Republican party, shows that Trump needs to look for help from those that have had the experience before.
Trump should reach out to his predecessors at this point in his presidency to gain insight on being the leader of the United States. President Trump’s tumultuous tenure is only a fault of his own. The questions that the White House faces will only increase with a divided country that is looking for answers.