Obama defends post-election embrace of Trump

Obama defends post-election embrace of Trump
© Getty
President Obama on Wednesday offered a defense for his surprising embrace of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE after a bitter campaign in which Obama argued Trump was unfit to serve as leader of the free world.
“After the election, democracy depends on a peaceful transition of power, especially when you don’t get the results you want,” Obama said during a speech in Greece.
“As you may have noticed, the next American president and I could not be more different. We have very different points of views,” he added.
“But American democracy is bigger than any one person, and that’s why we have a tradition of the outgoing president welcoming the new one in, as I did last week, and why, in the coming weeks my administration will do everything we can to support the smoothest transition possible. Because that’s how democracy has to work.”
In the week since Election Day, Obama has adopted a notably different tune on Trump, whom he previously claimed was “woefully unprepared for the job” and couldn't be trusted with access to nuclear weapons.
Obama has pointedly refused to criticize Trump’s early staffing decisions, such as the appointment of Stephen Bannon to a senior White House post, despite a history of promoting language criticized as anti-Semitic, racist and sexist.
He also appeared remarkably upbeat about the prospects of Trump’s presidency during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. After that meeting, Obama told his successor, “We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed.”
The change in tone has been criticized by some, who wonder why the president has not maintained his more antagonistic posture toward Trump.
Activists and critics on the left have repeatedly warned against “normalizing” Trump and his extreme rhetoric and proposals, some of which have been embraced by white nationalists. Refusal to criticize the incoming president, critics argue, allows for that ideology to become mainstream.
On Wednesday, however, Obama insisted that the ideals of democracy were more important than his differences with Trump.
“As long as we retain our faith in democracy, as long as we retain our faith in the people, as long as we don’t waver from those central principles that ensure a lively, open debate, then our future will be okay,” he said.