But there's this meme that the new President is not normal, adverted to by Obama:
There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.Bush, like his father, adhered to an absolute principle. Obama respects the principle by cushioning it with a malleable escape clause: where core** values may be at stake. And what a wide door that is! Not only is the concept "core values" subject to infinite debate, but — whatever these values are — they don't have to be severely threatened, only "at stake." And they don't even need to be at stake. It's enough that they "may" be at stake. Well, then there's really no one-President-at-a-time principle of withdrawal at all.
Obama gives 4 examples of what would override the principle of withdrawal:
1. "Systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion."
2. "Explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise."
3. "Institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press."
4. "Efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids, and send them someplace else, when they love this country."
Is #4 restricted to "kids"? Younger than 18? Is he serious about the condition "when they love this country?" When has Obama shown an interest in limiting immigration to those who actually love America? That sounds like a condition Trump would set.
The 4 examples of what Obama will consider not to be the "normal functioning of politics" suggests that he's ready to exert his influence whenever he wants. We'll see what he wants. The threat that he can drop back in might work as a check on President Trump: Don't stir the sleeping Obama. But we all know Trump has figured out how to leverage opposition. A reactivated Obama would offer a springboard for Trump's antic attacks on Obama. Any deviation from the principle of presidential withdrawal would put at stake the core value of the Dignity of the American Ex-President. And, frankly, it would threaten the the core value of the dignity of the current President.
* Pronounced corpse?
Some of those press corpsmen must feel they are dying, with the withdrawal of life-giving presence of the President We Loved and the arrival of President who tells them to their face they are garbage.
** Pronounced corps.