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McConnell: Obama should have ‘kept his mouth shut’ over Trump's handling of coronavirus

Ø  Late last week, in a private call with former staffers, former President Obama called Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic as "an absolute chaotic disaster."

Ø  Responding to this, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said that the former President should have “kept his mouth shut.”

Ø  Speaking to President Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, during an interview streamed live by the Trump campaign Monday night, McConnell said that Obama’s comments was “a little bit classless,” adding that the former presidents should follow “the tradition that the Bushes set up of not critiquing the president who comes after you.”

Ø  McConnell also accused the Obama administration of not leaving “any kind of game plan" on handling a pandemic.

Ø  However, a report from POLITICO in March reported that Obama's White House National Security Council came up with a step-by-step document on how to handle pandemics. As per the report, the Trump administration was told about this document - Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents – in 2017.

Ø  The document even talks about novel coronaviruses saying they could require a major response.

Ø  "We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook.... that they ignored," Ronald Klain, a campaign adviser to Democratic candidate Joe Biden and the former Obama administration Ebola response coordinator, said in a tweet.

Ø  As of now, there have been no comments from McConnell's office over the existence of Playbook.

View Analysis



Left View

McConnell Attacks Obama 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled no punches in a critique of former President Barack Obama's comments on the current Administration's dealing of the current pandemic and crisis. Obama attacked the Trump Administration's Pandemic response in a phone call to former staffers and members of this Administration. Calling Trump's handling of the Coronavirus epidemic as an " absolute chaotic disaster", Obama laid out his extreme disdain for the current Administration's methods in dealing with the crisis.

This didn't sit well with the Majority Leader, and in an interview with Lara Trump, during an online event, he vented his frustrations. Seeking to have the former president exercise a bit of political correctness and muzzle himself, he characterized Obama's comments as "a little bit classless" and called for him to exercise the same restraint the former Bush presidents had of not criticizing their successors. Here, McConnell is in over his head with his political tirade.

There is no law requiring former presidents to stay quiet regarding the job being performed by their successors, and it is understandable why Obama speaking out would make Republican leaders like McConnell nervous. The Democratic establishment is setting itself up for a comeback, looking to give presumptive nominee Joe Biden momentum heading into the long stretch in the march towards the November elections. With Obama already endorsing his former second-in-command for president, Democrats are already looking forward to a change in the highest office.

McConnell also tried to make the argument that the previous administration left no framework to fight a pandemic, showing that he is taking a page out of President Trump's method book of blaming others when things begin to fall apart. Never-mind that the Obama Administration left a 69-page pandemic playbook and that Bolton, under Trump, abolished the Pandemic Preparedness Office in the name of streamlining the National Security Council in 2018. That the current Administration is trying to lay the blame on the last one speaks volumes and shows its lack of leadership and in taking responsibility.

Obama is no longer president, Trump is, and he's not the leader we need right now.

Right
Response

Of course, Obama speaking out would make Republicans nervous. And like you stated, that’s due to the upcoming election in November. However, I find that more incriminating for Obama, considering that he has stayed relatively quiet on the current administration for the past 3.5 years. He is speaking up now because he wants Biden, whose legacy is significantly tied to Obama’s, in office. In addition to that, Obama’s name is making headlines negatively with his potential knowledge of spying on the Trump campaign. Those two facts combined strikingly shows how this is more a political move for Obama than a genuine critique.

The aggressive tone that Obama used in the attack is also alarming. It’s the kind of language that makes headlines and grabs attention. It’s also the kind of language that is needlessly divisive.

While yes, Obama did leave a playbook, it’s important to remember that the Trump was notified of it back in 2017, years before the current pandemic. Going back to what Obama has recently said, though, his comment could in no way be construed to be part of a broader discussion on the best policy for the issue. I have no problem with past presidents productively discussing current events. But what Obama did here was not constructive.

Free speech is not an issue that is raised here. Yes, no laws are preventing Obama from speaking out, but no one is contending that! While we have the right to say almost anything, that doesn’t mean that we should. Sometimes it’s best for us not to say anything.

Sometimes, as Mitch McConnell says, we need to keep our mouths shut.

Right View

Obama is back in the news...for all the wrong reasons. 

“Barack Hussain (sic) Obama is the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor, which was long tradition of decorum and decency. Should anyone really be surprised?” Trump tweeted out on Sunday. Well…that’s not entirely accurate. There are instances of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and even Teddy Roosevelt speaking out against their successors. However, Peter Loge, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, had this to say, “Historically, recent presidents do not attack sitting presidents that often and when they do, they are measured.”

Obama’s statements that the Trump Administration’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic was a “chaotic disaster,” were, indeed, classless. There is an unwritten tradition that former presidents generally keep quiet on current events. Sure, Obama has the right to say whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean as a former president he should.

Yes, Obama made his statements during a private phone call to former members of his administration. But isn’t it a little strange that the audio of the phone call was leaked to Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative reporter for Yahoo! News, of all people? If you don’t know, Isikoff was a favorite of the Obama Administration, which often used him for their controlled leaks.

Shifting gears, I wonder, though, would things have gone smoother for the Trump Administration if the Obama Administration had replenished the national stockpile of N95 masks following the H1N1 outbreak in 2009? Perhaps, instead of criticizing the president for his response to a pandemic of unexpected proportion, Obama should be admitting his mistake in not replenishing the PPE stockpile.

We also have to ask the question: why is Obama speaking out now? Is it because he feels his legacy is threatened by the recent revelations he knew a lot more about the plan to spy on the Trump Campaign than we thought? Is it an attempt at a distraction? He may be attempting to shift the current Obama narrative from “a corrupt president who worked to spy on the Trump Campaign,” to “a warrior speaking out against the bad orange man.”

Left
Response

President Obama is in the news for all the morally and ethically correct reasons.

This so called “unwritten tradition” of presidents not criticizing each other seems like a lot of gobbledegook to me. Does no one remember President Bush’s comments calling for unity and not division during this pandemic, or perhaps republicans are just unable to see the veiled criticism the former president leveled at the current President? Or how about when Bush reportedly called Trumps inauguration “some weird shit”, and his father called Trump a “blowhard”. These are all criticisms, so, as to the so-called unwritten tradition, I say a hardy farewell to the imaginary parchment it was never written on.

Lets also not forget that for every criticism that has ever been levelled at Trump by one of the better Presidents, he has repaid in more than kind fashion, with vicious attacks mocking Bush Senior’s million points of light, the Iraq war, and has basically created and sustained his entire presidency on attacking President Obama. If a man is going to build his career by insulting people, then he and his followers have no right to demand a lack of incoming criticism. Toughen up.

And if we need further proof that this is a completely made up and imagined tradition that the Republicans are just trying to push in order to save their fearless leader from any sort of criticism, we need only look at McConnel’s own words about it. The senate majority leader made a slip of the tongue, as he often does, when he said that Obama should follow the tradition “that the Bushes set up of not critiquing the president who comes after you”. This is an unwritten tradition, limited to the last 5 of 45 presidencies, and is exclusively credited to Republican leaders not criticizing democrats. Remember the gobbledegook from earlier? That is not a tradition, that is a father and son’s inclination. An inclination which, due to the “absolutely chaotic” disaster of the entire Trump presidency, none of the former Presidents have followed.