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Trump Must Prepare for Obama's Post-Presidency Pushback

Trump Must Prepare for Obama's Post-Presidency Pushback

President-elect Donald Trump (L) listens as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office November 10, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 29 November 2016 10:45 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In 2015, Barrack Obama declared that he would be elected for a third term "if I ran, but I can’t." Hillary must have agreed with the president considering the two main themes of her campaign were "I am not Donald Trump" and "Let’s continue Obama’s legacy." However, despite Obama’s record-high approval numbers, the American people resoundingly chose a new direction with President-elect Trump. And while Obama has shown grace and class with the transition and his counsel of Trump, his post-presidency will inevitably revert to partisan politics.

During the early days of his presidency, Obama broke protocol by constantly criticizing and blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush, for any and all problems, knowing full well that Bush would never respond. Unlike every past president in modern history, Obama is planning to stay in D.C. when he becomes a private citizen. And under the assumption that Hillary was going to win the election, he had planned to return to his passion of community organizing with his radical Attorney General Eric Holder, by targeting state races in order to fight gerrymandering.

The enigma of the Obama presidency is that while a large segment of the American people have a strong admiration and connection with him and his beautiful family, they have repeatedly shown a rejection of his leftist domestic and foreign policies at the ballot box. He will leave a Democratic Party in shambles, a party in its weakest position since the 1930s. Obama has already said in public that he will criticize a President Trump if issues arise that involve "core questions about our values and our ideals." And within a week of the election, Obama, of course on foreign soil, warned against "a crude sort of nationalism" taking root in the U.S., a clear rebuke of the Trump campaign’s themes, pledges, policy proposals, and messaging.

Once Trump takes the oath of office and becomes our nation’s 45th president, much of the Obama administration’s legacy will be instantly reversed by executive actions. The Justice Department, under AG Jeff Sessions, will prioritize security and law enforcement over its predecessor’s "social justice" initiatives. And President Trump’s national security apparatus will readjust America’s posture against Iran and ISIS to a proactive offensive. Obamacare will either be repealed or dramatically cut back. The military will start a build up and the president will pass a tax plan that will lead to an economic boom. Further, a strict constructionist who will follow Justice Scalia’s legacy will be appointed. All of these early successes will infuriate Obama.

When Obama takes a break from dictating his third memoir to a ghostwriter, and is not mocking the Clintons for blowing the election, he will sit down for major network interviews along with Spanish and African-American media to criticize President Trump and protect his legacy. The Trump administration must be prepared to push back deliberately and methodically.

The following are some suggestions:

  • President Trump should not directly engage President Obama: Jimmy Carter looked small when he criticized President Bush for the war on terror. By President Trump not responding to Obama, Obama will look petty. This will also lead to greater dysfunction in the Democrat ranks. If the administration feels it necessary to engage, then it is best left to the press secretary or an adviser on a Sunday morning news show.
  • Communicate progress to the American people: The early Trump presidency will be judged on the economy. President Trump is not only a magnate, but a world-renowned entrepreneur known for success. The American people will expect "winning." The Trump administration should readily promote any and all economic growth through the president, all administration officials, and social and new media. However, be sure to never make finite guarantees — this was one of Obama’s early mistakes with the stimulus in his presidency.
  • Use "Big" Messaging: A classic Trump motto is "Think Big." From my experience of working for President-elect Trump, "Think Big" meant Energy, Productivity, Getting Things Done, Accomplishments, and Results. President-elect Trump is the walking definition of "The Art of the Deal." The American people expect President Trump to negotiate a conservative, common-sense consensus and make government have a "Comeback" to efficiency, progress, and hard work. The Trump administration would be wise to embrace President-elect Trump’s celebrity entrepreneurial brand — it will work.
  • The Democrats are the perfect foil: The Democrats have learned all the wrong lessons from the 2016 defeat. Sen. Chuck Schumer seemed obstinate the Sunday after the election when he was giving ultimatums and demands to the future Trump administration’s agenda. Right now, there is a fight inside the Democrat party – to go full-socialist or communist. Obama proved that whenever he had a legislative failure, the American people could be persuaded to blame Congress. Make the Democrats the do-nothing party. Blame them for everything and anything. This will further deteriorate their base and pivot/deflect from any of Obama’s criticism.

Sun Tzu teaches "to know your enemy, you must become your enemy." Therefore, the Trump administration should be prepared for the time when Obama decides to engage, but willing to respond only on its terms. This opportunity can embolden the Republican grassroots while further weakening the Democrats into irrelevancy.

Sam Nunberg is both an accomplished attorney as well as a political strategist with a focus on communications, messaging, and persuasive narratives. In 2008, Mr. Nunberg was an adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney with a focus on grassroots coalitions and conservative outreach. From 2011 until mid-2015, Mr. Nunberg served as a political and public affairs adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump with a focus on strategic messaging, speechwriting, and policy as well as conservative and political media outreach.


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Sun Tzu teaches "to know your enemy, you must become your enemy." Therefore, the Trump administration should be prepared for the time when Obama decides to engage, but willing to respond only on its terms.
president elect trump, obama, legacy
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 10:45 AM
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