President Donald Trump’s first one hundred days in office will end April 29. As such, former President Barack Obama’s current visit to Chicago offers him an opportunity to criticize his successor. But will he take it?
On Sunday and at the invitation of Arne Duncan, Obama met with a group of Chicago’s Create Real Destiny Program, which provides services for at-risk youth. CRED was founded by the former Education Secretary.
At 12:00 ET on Monday, Obama will speak to an invitation-only crowd of college students, organizers and activists at the University of Chicago, the former president’s old stomping grounds. Billed as Obama’s “first major public appearance” since leaving the White House, the event will nevertheless include a media presence, giving the former president his first public opportunity to critique Trump’s evolving policy positions and his first one hundred days.
However, Obama may not need to be overtly critical of his successor—at least for now. In addition to Trump detractors on both sides of the aisle, the former president can safely rely on continuous pot-stirring by Organizing for Action. The 501(c)4 organization, which is headquartered in Chicago, is the successor to Organizing for America and is the work product of both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama presidential campaigns. Weekly, sometimes daily emails to subscribers from Organizing for Action push the former president’s vision to his supporters and supplicants. Here’s a sampling:
- April 23: “Yesterday was a big day for science + facts + progress… Chip in now to keep the momentum strong.”
- April 21: “Since DACA was implemented, more than 750,000 young people have earned… protected status… But the [Trump] administration’s stance has stripped them of that peace of mind.”
- April 13: “Yesterday, the [Trump] administration bragged that they could withhold important payments and subsidies to health insurers… What they are proposing is sabotage, plain and simple.”
In contrast to what Obama may voice in the coming days, former President George W. Bush exercised cautious restraint in criticizing his successor. In a May 28, 2009 speech to his largest audience since leaving the White house, Bush defended his administration’s policies concerning the interrogation techniques used to extract information from enemy combatants. However, at the same venue he also stated emphatically, “I am not going to criticize my successor. I wish him all the best.”
Indeed, Bush waited six months before offering a mild criticism of Obama, in which Bush again defended his administration’s policies on interrogation while also emphasizing the primary role of private enterprise in bolstering the American economy. Both positions had been repudiated by Obama.