In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, president Obama paid Donald Trump an enigmatic compliment. According to Obama, Trump has enough “craziness” to be president.
Stephanopoulos, asking the hard questions, pressed Obama on whether or not he liked Trump. In response, Obama said that Trump doesn’t think that Trump is an unconfident person. It was a comment in keeping with Obama’s public comments about Trump following the election results, which have been measured and ambiguous.
The moderate tone is a contrast to Trump, who has remarked that Obama is deliberately making the transition more difficult. Trump hasn’t really stuck to his guns on that claim in interviews.
“You know, I’ve enjoyed the conversations that we’ve had,” said Obama of his successor. “He is somebody who I think is not lacking in confidence, which is … probably a prerequisite for the job, or at least you have to have enough craziness to think that you can do the job.”
But the odd compliment was followed up with a criticism. Obama said that he didn’t think Trump has “spent a lot of time sweating the details of, you know, all the policies.”
The ABC interview was in preparation for Obama’s farewell address, which is scheduled for tomorrow evening in Chicago. The interview focused largely on Obama’s legacy, especially the very uncertain future of Obamacare. Despite the Affordable Care Act being in the crosshairs of a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama claims it will survive.
“I’m skeptical that they can [repeal Obamacare] mainly because for seven years now, including when we first tried to pass healthcare, I said to ’em, ‘OK, if this doesn’t work tell me what does.'”
In all likelihood, a lack of a better alternative program won’t stop the Republicans from striking Obamacare from the books.
Obama’s somewhat conciliatory tone towards Trump is definitely a departure from his attitude pre-election, when he made jokes at Trump’s expense. He probably shared the assumption common to many people, that a Clinton win was a foregone conclusion.
Obama’s farewell address will be watched by millions, perhaps even billions of people around the world. Whether he will continue to equivocate and speak in platitudes, or will take a harder, partisan tack in his comments about the upcoming administration, remains to be seen.
The coming years will demonstrate what, exactly, Obama’s legacy will be. Many of his policies are likely to survive, though it will probably be the bad ones.