President Obama Welcomes White Nationalists to the White House

Today history was quietly made — too quietly.

While I so often admire president nO–Drama’s Spock-like demeanor, today I worry that he’s depressed and drugged. Though we desperately need a leader now, his idea of what’s “appropriate” seems exactly backwards.

Obama’s speech this afternoon, discouraging us from judging White Nationalists in the White House too hastily, makes me wonder what it was like to hear Chamberlain capitulate to Germany on the radio 80 years ago.

No other politician could make this speech without being denounced as an enabler of racism.

I’ve never heard appeasement from an American president in my lifetime.

Most people don’t recognize it. But my friends who lost family in the holocaust are practically in fetal position — hopefully not for long. We need them, rested, for the fight!

Athena Jones: CNN Correspondent

“…You mentioned Staffing and Tone —

What do you say to those Americans who may not doubt that there will be a peaceful transition, but that are concerned about some of the policies and sentiments, either expressed by president elect Trump or his supporters, that may seem hostile to minorities and others?

Specifically I’m talking about the announcement that Steve Bannon, who is a proponent of the so-called “alt-right” movement, what many call the White Nationalist movement, is going to have a prominent role in the White House under our president Trump as his Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor — what message does that send to the country and to the world?”

Barack Obama: US President

“Okay, ah uh, uh, Athena, without coppin’ out I think it’s fair to say that uh, ah, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president elect starts making… ahm, if I want to be consistent with the notion that we’re going to facilitate a smooth transition. …”

The President goes on for 8 very illuminating minutes without ever coming close to answering the question, nor mentioning Bannon, Alt-Right or the White Nationalist movement’s new presence in the White House, nor what message has been sent to the country and the world.

Hearing Obama’s answer, you might imagine Jones had asked about several new staff members. Or that the president-elect had promised his supporters there would be White Nationalists in his White House and is just keeping his word. Or that president Obama is following that same well established norm that led outgoing president George W. Bush and the American People to hold their tongues when in 2008 president elect Obama announced the Black Nationalists leading his staff a few days after his election. But none of those is true.

The president expresses such awe and optimism for the president elect’s achievement and gifts, you might never suspect that a large majority of the Americans who voted for him last week insist they only did it to keep someone they despise and distrust even more out of the White House.

Instead Obama’s dream that Hillary was a strong, popular candidate has in his mind transformed Trump into a superman.

Barack Obama: US President (continuing)

“Look: uh, the people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th president of the United States. And it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well, and reflects his policies. And those who didn’t vote for him have to recognize that that’s how democracy works. That’s how, uh, this system operates. When I won, there were a number of people who didn’t like Me. And didn’t like what I stood for. And, ah, yeah. I think that whenever you’ve got uh an incoming president of the other side, particularly in a bitter election like this, ahm, it takes a while for people to ah, reconcile themselves, with that new reality.

Hopefully it’s a reminder that elections matter, and voting counts. And so, ah, y’know I don’t know how many times we have to re-learn this lesson, because we ended up having 43% of the country not voting who were eligible to vote, but, it makes a difference. Ahm, so, given that President Elect Trump is now trying to balance what he said in his campaign, and the commitments he made to his supporters, with working with those who disagreed with him, and members of congress, and reaching out to constituencies that didn’t vote for him, ah, I think it’s important to us to Let Him Make His Decisions, ah, and the American People will judge over the course of the next couple of years whether they like what they see, and whether uh, these are the kinds of policies and this is the direction that they want to see the country go in. Ahm, and my role is to make sure that when I hand off this White House that ah, that it is in the best possible shape, and that I’ve been as helpful as I can to him in going forward, and building on the progress that we’ve made. Um.

And my advice is, as I said to to the president elect when we had our discussions is, campaigning is different from governing, and I think he recognizes that [moving concerned eyebrows as if speaking about a cognitively challenged patient or a trained animal], I think he’s sincere in wanting to be a successful president, and ah moving this country forward, and I don’t think any president ever comes in saying to himself, I want to figure out how to make people angry or alienate half the country. I think he’s gonna try, ah, as best he can, to make sure that he delivers, not only for the people who voted for him, but for the people at large. And the good thing is that there are going to be elections coming up, so there’s a built-in incentive for him to try to do that. Uh, but, um. Y’know it’s only been 6 days. And I think it’ll be important for him to have the room to staff up, to figure out what his priorities are, to be able distinguish what he was campaigning on and what is practical, and what he can actually achieve. You know there are certain things that make good sound bites but that don’t translate into good policy, and ah, that’s something that he and his team will wrestle with, in the way that every president wrestles with.

I did say to him, as I’ve said publicly, that because of the nature of the campaigns, and the bitterness and the ferocity of the campaigns, that it’s really important to try to send some signals of unity, and to reach out to minority groups, or women, or others that were concerned about uh the tenor of the campaign. And I think that’s something that he will want to do, but this is all happening real fast. He’s got commitments to supporters that helped to get him here, and he’s going to have to balance those ahh, and over the coming weeks and months and years my hope is that those impulses ultimately win out. But it’s a little too early to start making judgements on that.

Athena Jones: CNN Correspondent

Your view of his qualifications, has that changed, after meeting with him?

Barack Obama: US President

You know I think that um, he successfully mobilized a big portion of the country to vote for him, and he’s gonna win. He has won. He’s gonna be the next president. And uh, regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, ah, this office has a way of waking’ ya up. And ah, those those aspects of ah his positions or previous positions that don’t match up with reality, he will uh, find shaken up pretty quick, because reality has a way of asserting itself.

And some of his gifts, that obviously allowed him to um execute one of the biggest political upsets in history, those are ones that hopefully he will put to good use on behalf of all the American people. Scott Horsely?