Another day and more hurty pants from the Obama White House. This time it is because the lame duck president is being made obviously irrelevant by Trump.
Before lunchtime Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump said he would expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, upending a reduction course set by presidents of both parties over the past four decades, and called for the United States to veto a pending U.N. resolution that criticized Israel’s settlements policy.
The policy prescriptions, communicated in morning tweets, followed calls since last month’s election to reconsider the arms-length U.S. relationship with Taiwan and to let China keep an underwater U.S. vessel seized by its navy. Trump declared within hours of this week’s Berlin terrorist attack that it was part of a global Islamic State campaign to “slaughter Christians” and later said it reaffirmed the wisdom of his plans to bar Muslim immigrants.
Late Thursday, Trump suggested in another tweet that the U.S. military’s years-in-the-making plans for a new stealth fighter, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, might be reconsidered, saying he had “asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!”
sked last week whether he was trying to help Trump, a professed admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, understand Russia’s responsibility for the civil-war carnage in Aleppo, Syria, President Obama said he would “help President-elect Trump with any advice, counsel, information that we can provide so that he, once he’s sworn in, can make a decision.”
“Between now and then,” Obama said firmly, it was up to him to decide what to do. “These are decisions that I have to make based on the consultations that I have with our military and the people who have been working this every day.”
But in the face of a president-elect who is not willing to passively wait as Obama locks things into place, Obama is finding that he’s not quite as in charge as he thinks he is. Trump has already gotten Boeing and Northrop-Grumman looking at price reductions. He was correct — in all fairness, a lot of us called this right — about the motivations of the Berlin truck-driving terrorist. His “screw you, keep it” response to China’s seizure of a US drone submersible let the Chinese know they didn’t have a bargaining chip and led them to return it with a minimum of drama (for the record, I think this was a problematic decision from the point of view of our regional allies). His rapid response to Putin’s declaration that he intended to build enough nuclear warheads to penetrate US missile defenses was appropriate and, more importantly, delivered publicly by Trump. The fact that it has upset the arms control Jesuits is simply icing on the cake.
What really seems to have burned the White House is Trump inserting himself into a UN Security Council vote.
While successive administrations have considered the settlements an impediment to an Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Obama administration has grown increasingly irate over what it feels is Israel’s flouting of its concerns.
Over the past six months, Israel has announced plans to add hundreds of units to existing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A July announcement that 770 new homes were to be built in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo drew particularly sharp U.S. criticism.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who supported an abstention and was clearly expecting to deliver a pre-vote speech announcing it, along with an outline of future prospects for Middle East peace, canceled his plans…
Trump is making Obama irrelevant. His unscripted use of Twitter to voice his preferences on key issues gives players a heads up on how he will come down on issues after January 20. It also creates the impression of a man chomping at the bit to take charge which will also make federal bureaucrats a little leery about sabotaging him before he arrives.
But if Obama got his ass off the golf course and actually did something, this probably wouldn’t be happening.