As mentioned in an earlier post, we have experienced only three presidents since January 20, 1993. Which means backing up one day, we have also experienced only three transitions. All of them, however, have occurred between political parties.
I remember reading in 1992 after the stinging loss of the elder Bush to the younger Clinton that the outgoing President would not criticize the incoming. This did not seem like a shock. It did not seem out of the ordinary. Bush had class and character, despite his political failings and knew the new President would not- did not- need him chirping from the recliner in retirement.
Perhaps this is a Bush family ideology because Geroge W. Bush made a similar announcement in 2009, despite the fact OBama ran against Bush in 2008 and as late as 2016 was still blaming his own problems on the previous president.
Bill Clinton was very busy during the transition from himself to George W, but made a similar announcement he would not criticize the incoming president. And of course, just under nine months into his term, there was very little criticism of President Bush as the country focused on Osama bin Laden. And for President Clinton, there was the refusal to criticize any action taken due to the fact there was a slight undercurrent of fingerpointing that bin Laden had started his terrorism while Clinton was president.
Before the Triumvirate, Reagan certainly did not criticize 41. Carter couldn’t criticize Reagan without guffaws of laughter (though he has technically criticized every president since.) And before that (Watergate), the country was in such a mess you could read criticism into the daily weather report.
Personally, I have spent the last eight years of my life very quiet on the subject of our president and his policies. Reason: Shortly after he was Inaugurated, I was in a conversation with someone who noted my lack of support for the new president thusly:
“You don’t like him because he is black.”
It’s a shame you can’t slam cell phones down, or afford to bash them against a brick wall.
And so it continued for most of the next eight years, disagreements between political ideologies disintegrated into the color of someone’s skin. It was an easy out for the left, and an infuriating accusation on the right.
I believe we are all equal, but we all have certain responsibilities. I believe in expanding equal rights so that the rights I enjoy as a white male are enjoyed by all human beings, no matter their gender, race, sexuality, or religion. As John Kennedy said in Berlin in 1963, “When one man is enslaved, all are not free.”
But it became a rampant, idiotic answer for most of the left to withstand any criticism of President Obama by retiring to the, “Racist” label to anyone who disagreed. Pay it no mind Obama sat (every Sunday) in the church of Jeremiah Wright, whose racist diatribes against whites in the nation was as repulsive as our country’s disgusting treatment of African Americans (and Native Americans for that matter) since we arrived.
Please Note: This is not an essay against criticism. I am certainly NOT saying we all need to agree with each other. And I am not advocating we bow to the party in power. My focus on this website is on the Presidents and in this instance, the Transition periods, and finally- the recent outspoken criticism by our First Lady, Michelle Obama.
In a recent interview with Oprah, Mrs. Obama stated, “Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.”
This could be (simply) a Democrat continuing to whine about the fact their party is out of power. But Michelle Obama is not simply any other Democrat. She is the First Lady, whose words carry weight and (most of the time) honor and dignity.
Is this the same woman who said, “When they go low, we stay high?”
Perhaps. But she is also the same woman who stated in 2008 after her husband was nominated, that it was the “first time I have been proud of my country.”
The full interview of Obama and Winfrey airs tonight on CBS. I am sure this statement was used in advertising for the interview because it is possibly the most flammable. And perhaps some would caution me not to read too much into it. But you can’t pick and choose when you have class and dignity. You can’t say you are going to take the high road and then announce the country has lost ‘hope’ because we have a new President hell bent on dismantling the previous eight years. It happens. Obama was certainly hell bent on dismantling the previous eight.
That’s politics. Usually, First Ladies stay out of it.