It’s an unspoken rule for presidents to not criticize their successors.
It’s tradition for U.S. presidents to remain silent about their successors after leaving office. President George W. Bush has spent the past eight years refraining from criticizing Barack Obama. Before him, President Bill Clinton had little to say about George W. Bush, and even acted as a secret advisor during his second term. But given the danger posed by a Donald Trump presidency, President Obama isn’t sure whether he’ll uphold the tradition of silence.
At a news conference on Sunday in Lima, Peru, Obama spoke about the role he’ll play after leaving the White House. “I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance,” Obama said. “As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle, but go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.”
Obama may hold to tradition because of the way he was treated by his predecessor. “President Bush could not have been more gracious to me when I came in,” Obama said of a man he harshly criticized before taking office. “My intention is to certainly for the next two months, just finish my job and then after that to take Michelle on vacation, get some rest, spend time with my girls and do some writing, do some thinking,” Obama continued.
It may be tough for Obama to remain silent being that in his first 100 days of his presidency, Trump vows to repeal and replace one of Obama’s signature policies, the Affordable Care Act. This could result in over 22 million Americans losing their health coverage. Trump also intends on cancelling executive orders that protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and require background checks for firearms sold at gun shows.