Just before leaving office, President Obama signaled that, in keeping with recent presidential history, he didn’t plan to weigh in on his successor’s policies. However, he said he would say something if he ever felt “our core values may be at stake” or “saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion.”
Just ten days after leaving office, Obama felt the need to speak out, issuing a statement cheering on those opposing President Trump’s travel ban. For several weeks Obama focused his energies on engaging in water sports with Richard Branson. Then, in March, his spokesman had to issue another statement, insisting that Obama had not wiretapped Trump Tower.
On Sunday, President Obama was compelled to break his silence again — sort of. During a speech in Boston after receiving the Profile in Courage Award at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Obama criticized the current effort to repeal his signature health law, which could make millions of people lose their health insurance.
Obama praised the freshman lawmakers who voted to pass the Affordable Care Act, even though they knew it may cost them their jobs. “These men and women did the right thing,” Obama said. “They did the hard thing … and most of them did lose their seats.”
Then, without naming the American Health Care Act, Obama called on current members of Congress not to harm the most vulnerable members of society just for a political win.
This great debate is not settled but continues, and it is my fervent hope — and the hope of millions — that regardless of party, such courage is still possible, that today’s members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth, even when it contradicts party positions. I hope that current members of Congress recall that it takes little courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But does require some courage to champion the vulnerable, and the sick and the infirm. Those who often have no access to the corridors of power.
Obama didn’t say Trump’s name either, but at other points he appeared to address those resisting Trump’s agenda:
For many Americans, I know that this feels like an uncertain and even perilous time. And at such moments, courage is necessary. in such moments we need courage to stand up to hate – not just in others, but in ourselves. At such moments we need courage to believe that together we can tackle big challenges like inequality and climate change.At such moments it’s necessary for us to show courage in challenging the status quo and in fighting the good fight. But also show the courage to listen to each other, and see common ground, and embrace principled compromise.
It seems unlikely that Republican members of Congress will heed the former president’s call, as it appears their disdain for Obama is one of the main reasons they are rushing to repeal Obamacare, but at least he can say he tried.