November 18, 2016

"And I don’t expect that the president-elect will follow exactly our blueprint or our approach, but my hope is that he does not simply take a realpolitik approach."

Said President Obama, speculating about how President-elect Trump might behave with respect to Russia and Vladimir Putin. This came at a press conference in Berlin, with German chancellor Angela Merkel standing beside him. I made a clip putting the remark in a slightly larger context.



I'd seen the remark quoted in various places — such as the NYT — and I'd thought it was inappropriately disrespectful to Trump, who should not be undercut in the difficult enterprise that lies ahead. If Obama is genuinely worried that Trump might "simply take a realpolitik approach" and fail— as he puts it — "to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms," should he be airing this suspicion on a stage in Berlin, inviting the world to mistrust the next President?

In the larger context of the clip I made, the airing of suspicion does not feel as stark. I'm not surprised that the American news media chooses the quote that heightens the sense that Obama mistrusts Trump. But I do think Obama should take care to preserve confidence in the new administration, especially when speaking about foreign policy in a foreign country. But Obama does seem to be taking great care. He's speaking slowly and deliberately — maybe in part because he's truly weary — and the statement you see here is a highly processed version of what he really thinks about Trump and Putin.

Compare it to what he said when he was campaigning for Hillary in September:
“Just last week, [Trump] went on Russian state television to talk down our military and to curry favor with Vladimir Putin. He loves this guy... Think about what’s happening to the Republican Party... They used to be opposed to Russia and authoritarianism... And now their nominee is out there praising a guy, saying he’s a strong leader because he invades smaller countries, jails his opponents, controls the press and drives his economy into a long recession.... Think about the fact that that’s Donald Trump’s role model... I have to do business with Putin, I have to do business with Russia, that’s part of foreign policy, but I don’t go around saying, ‘That’s my role model.’ Can you imagine Ronald Reagan idolizing somebody like that?”

62 comments:

AllenS said...

Obama is a jerk and has no class.

Once written, twice... said...

Of course you have problems with President Obama's mild remarks, but not with Trump's nefarious ties with the darkest forces within Russia.

PB said...

he's an ideologue with no understanding his beliefs are merely religious in nature, not grounded in sound, provable principles. When self-proclaimed morals and ethics don't achieve advertised or desirable results, then perhaps it's time to turn to the practical.

Terry said...

So Obama is going to give lessons on foreign policy, now?
How to lose a war, how to enable an enemy of the United States to build nukes, how to reset our relationship with Russia, which only became our opponent during the Obama administration, how to hand Iran hundreds of millions of dollars without congressional okay (I'm still trying to figure out how that differed from Reagan's arms-for-hostages deal. Even Reagan didn't dare just shovel taxpayer dollars at the mullahs).

Eleanor said...

Obama is going to do everything he can to undermine Trump between now and January 20th. It may be more subtle than taking the W keys off, but he'll find ways. Then January 21st he'll have to deal with how irrelevant he and Michelle are. No one is going to care what she's wearing anymore, and he'll be the president who oversaw a loss of nearly 1000 seats held by Democrats when he first took office. Someone else will emerge to lead the party. He obviously sucked at it.

Karen of Texas said...

Can't you be practical and still be moral? Is practical a bad thing? We see where an ideologue has gotten us. Of course, Obama doesn't see that. Realpolitik out of his mouth. Smdh.

rhhardin said...

Obama is a magic 8-ball of advice.

damikesc said...

Of course you have problems with President Obama's mild remarks, but not with Trump's nefarious ties with the darkest forces within Russia.

What, PRECISELY, did Obama do to deal with Russia? Why did he promise them "flexibility" after his re-election? Why did he openly mock Romney for referring them as our largest geopolitical rival?

Also, OT, but any bets that we won't hear a word about how gorgeous, classy, or elegant the first lady is for the next 4 years?

Curious George said...

Obama and Merkel. Hard to imagine two more failed Western leaders.

Sydney said...

I expect him to be worse than Jimmy Carter when it comes to meddling and undermining. I hope he doesn't meet my expectations.

William said...

As Terry points out, the Obama administration is not conspicuous for its foreign policy successes. Rather the opposite. Criticism of Trump just calls attention to this sorry fact.......I don't think we'll ever have a happy relationship with Russia, Iran, or the various homocidal maniacs that guide the Middle East, but things have certainly gotten worse under Obama's direction.......There are fewer prisoners at Gitmo. That's Obama's big achievement.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can't you be practical and still be moral?"

Yeah, like with drones.

Big Mike said...

There's a reason why "Realpolitik" begins with "real."

Mike Sylwester said...

I never will forget that President Obama said, in a public speech six days before the election, the following:

If you accept the support of Klan sympathizers — the Klan — and hesitate when asked about that support, then you’ll tolerate that support when you’re in office.

A similar smear tactic was used against Martin Luther King. Supposedly, King accepted the support of Communist sympathizers, and therefore King himself was secretly a Communist sympathizer.

retail lawyer said...

Putin has a job and goals. He seems pretty good at the job and achieving the goals, especially with the weak hand he was delt. He outmaneuvers Obama and Merkel at every turn. I think this is why Trump praises him. Trump is not evaluating him by the criteria of Obama - who the future belongs to, arcs of history, lowering sea levels, etc. Obama is the JV team compared to Putin.

Karen of Texas said...

Why yes. Drones ARE practical and moral - collateral and incidental death is minimized. Less death is always a sign post on the moral highway.

Curious George said...

"William said...
There are fewer prisoners at Gitmo. That's Obama's big achievement."

Seriously?

Hagar said...

He did say that - and mispronounced real politik.

Don't know that we've ever seen an outgoing president making a final tour of the world to undercut his successor before.

Rick said...

Once written, twice... said...
Of course you have problems with President Obama's mild remarks, but not with Trump's nefarious ties with the darkest forces within Russia.


Note how the loons just invent claims to condemn Trump. Meanwhile Trump is talking to Romney about SOS after he presciently described them as the #1 geopolitical threat. While that is obviously true Obama mocked it, plus Obama said to Putin "I'll have more freedom to act [against Americans' interests] after the election". Clinton gave him a reset button demonstrating she believed our conflict with Russia was our fault.

By any rational analysis the Democrats obsequious behavior demonstrated weakness encouraging Putin's aggressiveness which Putin has taken advantage of. But the left somehow concludes their numbnuts are instead stalwarts.

What a pack of fools.

AllenS said...

I hear ya, Hagar. This spectacle of Obama's behavior, doesn't surprise me.

Lance said...

"In the larger context of the clip I made, the airing of suspicion does not feel as stark."

And yet the message is there: Democrats are ready to undercut Pres. Trump's foreign policy, whatever it is.

Hagar said...

Obama appears to believe that the world is a rational place and everything would be fine if it wasn't for the U.S going bumbling around and upsetting everything.

But the world is not a rational place, and the Americans is not the problem.

AprilApple said...

Yeah Oama - and your Secretary of State set up a private server so she could manage our business in private. So she could profit personally from a public position.

No scorn from Obama on that front.

AprilApple said...

If Trump can harness Putin to help fight ISIS, and keep Putin restrained from invading its neighbors - winning.

Again - what did Obama and Hillary do to Syria and Libya? Of that's right - epic failure.

Michael K said...

Putin has a job and goals. He seems pretty good at the job and achieving the goals, especially with the weak hand he was delt.

Yes and that is what Obama hates. He knows he has done a crappy job and hates it.

"Meanwhile Trump is talking to Romney about SOS after he presciently described them as the #1 geopolitical threat"

Yes. Good observation.

Plus, of course, think about Margaret Thatcher telling Reagan, "We can do business " with Gorbachev. Obama has no idea how little he knows.

Barry Dauphin said...

Is he saying that the 1980s called and it wants it's foreign policy back?

Dr Weevil said...

Of course Obama despises Realpolitik: he prefers Fantasiepolitik, as exemplified by the idea that giving money to Iran to help them build nukes is a good idea. No one even remotely in touch with reality could possibly think that's anything but the worst idea in politics today.

Daniel Jackson said...

O'man is just worried about turning over the keys to the Locked Cabinet let alone the Iran Deal correspondence.

For that alone, one would expect him to settle down and play nice.

GRW3 said...

Watching Russia (formerly USSR) for most of my life it really seems they respond better to administrations that respect their power by treating them very seriously than to those that "try to get along".

Terry said...

At this point in time, shouldn't it be the responsibility of the Europeans to contain Putin? Putin is a thug and he's basically put himself in the position of having to be president for life. If he becomes an ordinary citizen he will be killed if he stays in Russia, and arrested if he leaves Russia. The man rules by force and intimidation. The country is run by old KGB hands and the Russian mafia.
But the role the West played post-USSR caused many of the problems Russia has today. Putin began his looting during the Yeltsin years. It's worse than a return to czarism -- Russia was reforming itself when the bolshies took over. The communists destroyed whatever social capital existed when the country was run by the czars.

rehajm said...

Realpolitik? I know it's a word but it reeks of the cool kids.

Will we ever know who Clinton would have selected for her Secretary of Acting Like the Cool Kids?

wildswan said...

As I understand our foreign policy in Syria we oppose both Assad and his main enemies. We have no effective forces of our own and appropriate Kurdish victories as ours when we want some pictures. Occasionally our drones assassinate someone said to be the enemy - I have no idea who or why. Mass migrations are occurring from that country and other Islamic people will not take the Islamic migrants in (why?), therefore we should. Similar policies are in effect in Libya and Yemen with similar migrations resulting. Obama regards this as success and hopes it continues.

It is perfectly apparent from elections in India, Russia, England, the US that various projects to eliminate existing culture and replace it with bureaucratic regulations ordained as law by judges are unpopular. Obama regards the opposition as racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-gay deplorables, mentioning opposition to Islamic migration in America as proof of all of the above. Islamic attitudes on race, sex, those outside Islam and the gays are perfectly irrelevant to the discussion. In any case the issue of the attempt to rule by judges and by regulation is larger than any one instance of the trend and the opposition goes far beyond America or the EU. Obama is attempting to position himself as leader of the Judges. I hope he succeeds since we know how good he was for the Democrats.

Mac McConnell said...

Obama began his presidency with a world apology tour, why would this surprise anyone he would end his presidency this way. He's a Dbag.

Paul said...

Obama... another word for 'little bore'.

And that is all he ever was.

DanTheMan said...

"I hope the new president doesn't make any foreign policy mistakes" says the guy who gave the Iranians $1.4 billion in cash....

Meade said...

“Everybody always breaks it down between idealist and realist.” remarked President Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, in an April 2010 article in the New York Times. “If you had to put him in a category, he’s probably more realpolitik, like Bush 41… you’re got to be cold-blooded about the self-interests of your nation.”

MayBee said...

Why in the world would anybody take advice from Obama about foreign policy?
Why would anyone present what he wants someone else to do about foreign policy as a serious consideration?

Obama's foreign policy is a disaster. People should be laughing at Obama advising Trump.

Seeing Red said...

Dear Prof:

After everything that has been on display during our lifetimes, especially the past 8 years, you still don't understand the vile progs.

OF COURSE Obama's undermining him.

This is what they do.

Peanut started it.

Ex-Republican presidents keep their mouths shut.


Ex-dems, no.

It's only going to get worse, especially with Obama, cos he still knows more and best after 8 years.


AllenS said...

Before you know it, they'll be saying that Trump can see Russia from his Trump Tower.

coupe said...

Merkel was staring at him the whole time, like she was extremely bored.

She wanted him to leave after he dropped-off the bags of money, but then he saw a microphone and a reporter.

Robert Cook said...

Obama is such a hypocrite. Who is he to lecture about "observing international norms"? Under his administration, (as with his predecessors going back decades), we violate those norms without compunction.

(One of the few things I've heard Trump say that I cheer is his stated intention to develop friendly relations with Russia.)

Meade said...

Yeah, and not only Russia. Trump has stated intention to develop friendly relations with almost all nations.

Robert Cook said...

"Yeah, and not only Russia. Trump has stated intention to develop friendly relations with almost all nations."

If he can accomplish, good on him! We should be trying to avoid adversarial relationships where possible, rather than taking the belligerent approach that has become our norm. Isn't this why we have a diplomatic corps?

coupe said...

NATO is the bad party in this deal. NATO is what is driving Russia to react.

NATO now has artillery in range of Saint Petersburg. This after saying that the expansion of NATO was going to be purely political.

NATO is the worlds biggest threat right now, because they have the capability to start a war, but they do not have the capability to win.

France was smart to get out early.

mikee said...

Obama becomes much more comprehensible a speaker when one realizes every word out of his mouth is scripted to be insulting, and is most likely totally untrue.

Hillary, on the other hand, was simply unbearable in any way, even when silently standing still.

n.n said...

So, Russians are the new Jews. Obama and Merkel should reflect on what they are projecting.

Robert Cook said...

"NATO is the bad party in this deal. NATO is what is driving Russia to react."

NATO is acting at Washington's behest.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Once written, twice... said...Of course you have problems with President Obama's mild remarks, but not with Trump's nefarious ties with the darkest forces within Russia.

Naah, man, we hit that Reset button, remember? Darkest forces? The Cold War's over, buddy, remember how much fun you guys had laughing at ol' Mitt Romney about that one? No way you were 100% wrong back then--since I don't remember President Obama ever apologizing or admitting he was both wrong & rude to dismiss real concerns...so you must be off base now.

coupe said...

Robert Cook said...NATO is acting at Washington's behest.

NATO was obsolete when the Warsaw Pact folded. Trump would be smart to de-fund it.

Europe can defend themselves if they decide to. Right now they are letting the Moslem invaders in and feeding them.

SukieTawdry said...

..."to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms,"...

Does this mean Obama thinks he stood up to Russia?? Mostly I remember grumbling about how Putin would find out soon enough that he was on the wrong side of history.

Darrell said...

Democrats can see Russia from their bathroom server closets.

Darrell said...

NATO allows US Lefty kids to join the military for future GI Bill benefits while seeing Europe on extended vacation. They can fuck foreign Socialists and get further radicalized, too, before coming home.

Just_Mike_S said...

The Jayvee game is almost over. The Varsity team is getting ready to take the field.

SukieTawdry said...

Don't know that we've ever seen an outgoing president making a final tour of the world to undercut his successor before.

Nor have we seen a sitting president campaign so exhaustively and vociferously against the opposing party's candidate. Nor have we seen a president make the terms of that campaign his personal legacy as he browbeats voters about what they owe him.

William Jamieson said...

When I heard President Obama's comment this morning, my First thought was: "He is always the [fill in your favorite obscene description. Mine is: C U Next Tuesday]."

Second thought was about the title of a Dan Hicks song: "How Can We Miss You When You Won't Go Away?" God, spare us this man's presence.

Third thought was: have we ever seen a president at term's end speak of his successor publicly this way? I can't think of any. Then, I thought of my first thought.

Fourth thought: From the media, to Obama, to the rioters...every comment from that side is, "Well, Trump better..." or "Trump better not...". Do they not know losers don't set terms or conditions? Did the right set terms in 2008/2012? Did the progs listen, much less act in accordance? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Fifth and final thought: I hope the whole voting public is listening and watching to Obama,the rioters, the college campuses, really the whole left, in meltdown. I hope those who voted Trump feel confirmed by their wise decision. I hope those who voted for someone else regret their choice, and think about joining the winning team.

Bill



Pookie Number 2 said...

to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms

I'm struggling to remember Obama standing up to the mullahs when they were killing people for protesting.

It's a good thing most Americans won't impute Obama's incompetence and vapidity to African Americans in general.

William Chadwick said...

Translating from Obama BS into English: "realpolitik"=more statism.

furious_a said...

"realpolitik approach" = "not letting the 19th Century Men kick your ass"

furious_a said...

Meanwhile Trump is talking to Romney about SOS

Are the 1980s giving us back their foreign policy?

DavidD said...

Pragmatic [not a compliment] Obama hoping Trump won't choose to do solely what's practical?

It is to laugh.

Unknown said...

Obama doing what Obama always does. Disgustingly playing politics. I will be so glad when this guy is no longer in the whitehouse. And I certainly do not expect he will come within the same solar system as dubya when it comes to class as ex potus.

Robert Cook said...

"The Jayvee game is almost over. The Varsity team is getting ready to take the field."

Please.

All that's happening is that the most recent shitty administration is being replaced by a new shitty administration. They come in a sequence, like sausage links.