CNN reports that it has obtained the letter Barack Obama gave to President Trump on Inauguration Day. The traditional presidential hand-off letters are eventually made public, but CNN claims to have gotten it from someone Trump showed it to, as he does to White House visitors. Describing it to ABC News in January, Trump said, “It was stated beautifully that I’m representing a lot of people, and I’m carrying on a very important tradition, just do a great job–he wants me to do a great job.” In the Obama way, yes, it addresses Trump in tactful compliments.
Obama reminds Trump that “we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune” and that they are “guardians of...democratic institutions and traditions.” This was months after the CIA had made him aware of Russia’s online campaign to tilt the election.
Rick Santorum was free for a last-minute interview, so what does he have to say? It was “gracious and well-written,” he admits, but, to “nitpick,” which he “hates to do,” but he does, he complains that the opening was “politically correct” because Obama didn’t congratulate him specifically on his win, just his “run,” and that he didn’t use the word “Americans,” just “millions.” What did Obama mean by that??
Here’s the letter in full:
Dear Mr. President –
Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.
This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.
First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.
Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.
Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.
And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.
Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.
Good luck and Godspeed,