It has a been a tradition for outgoing presidents to leave a handwritten note for incoming presidents on Inauguration Day.
To Barack Obama, George W. Bush wrote: “There will be trying moments. The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me.”
Eight years before that, Bill Clinton gave “Dubya” a buoyant sendoff: “The burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated. The sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible.”
And in 1992, George H.W. Bush wrote to Clinton that “your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”
CNN has obtained a copy of the letter Obama wrote to Trump which the network received from “someone who had seen the letter” — this being CNN, we assume it’s genuine (with a grain of salt).
In any event, here’s the full text of the letter as reported:
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,
We couldn’t help but chortle slightly when Obama says presidents must be guardians of “rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties” – a bit rich coming from someone who didn’t seem to understand those things himself.
But it was this one ironic sentence that jumped out immediately: “I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful.”
Gee, ya think? Other than a how-to for radically increasing the nation’s debt, allowing Islamic jihadism to spread, increasing the number of people on welfare, fomenting racial division, decimating our military…need we go on?
Apparently Trump was very touched to receive the letter, “It was long. It was complex. It was thoughtful,” Trump said of the letter the week after taking office in an interview with ABC News. “And it took time to do it, and I appreciated it.”
Nonetheless, the two have not spoken or seen each other since. Anyone surprised?
[This article was written by Michele Hickford, author of the brutally honest and bitingly funny Do I Need To Slap You?]