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The West Wing

Barack Obama thinks Donald Trump will face a reality check in the White House

The US President had some advice for the President-elect.

Obama President Barack Obama waves goodbye as he finishes his a news conference in the White House. Susan Walsh / PA Images Susan Walsh / PA Images / PA Images

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA cautioned against dire predictions for Donald Trump’s presidency, saying his Republican successor faces a reality check if he tries to enact his most controversial campaign promises.

Obama said that deporting millions of immigrants, tearing up mutual defense treaties with NATO and Japan, and unraveling global deals on Iran’s nuclear program and the environment were not as simple as delivering tub-thumping rhetoric.

“Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up,” Obama said in a press conference that sometimes appeared to be a direct message to the billionaire populist.

“Reality has a way of asserting itself,” he said, while offering his view that Trump was pragmatic rather than ideological.

Trump’s election has been met with euphoria among supporters, but also with a wave of protests across the United States that are unusual for the world’s leading democracy.

Can’t see video? Click here 

Obama said that during a meeting with Trump at the White House last week, he had told the 70-year-old president-elect that his actions can move markets, tanks and public sentiment.

“I emphasized to him that, look, in an election like this that was so hotly contested and so divided, gestures matter,” Obama said.

It’s really important to try to send some signals of unity, and to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign.

“Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course, I have concerns. He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat — it’s an ocean liner.”

Obama It was Obama's first news conference since the election of Trump. Andrew Harnik Andrew Harnik


Amid dire predictions about the end of the republic and the global order, Obama said that Trump’s inexperience in politics and lack of intellectual baggage could be an asset.

“I don’t think he is ideological. I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way,” Obama told reporters at his first news conference since the Republican mogul defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton last week’s presidential election.

“And that can serve him well as long as he’s got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction,” he continued.

Obama said that Trump had already conveyed a “commitment to NATO” that seemed to run against his campaign promises.

During a visit this week to Europe, and then Peru for a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders, Obama said he would be able to tell allies “there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship.”

This is a time of great change in the world, but America’s always been a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to peoples around the globe. And that’s what it must continue to be.

Can’t see the video? Click here 

Obama inadvertently pointed to another example from his own presidency where the campaign rubber meets the road — closing the ‘war on terror’ prison at Guantanamo Bay, currently home to 60 inmates.

With weeks left in office and the promise unfulfilled, Obama admitted he could not “close the darn thing.”

Party politics

Obama tried to steer clear of giving Democrats advice on how to recover from a brutal electoral loss of the White House, both houses of Congress and, inevitably, the Supreme Court.

“I think it’s important for me not to be big-footing,” he said.

I think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge.

Obama Trump President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met on Thursday. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / PA Images Pablo Martinez Monsivais / PA Images / PA Images

But he did have some advice, that appeared to be tacit criticism of Clinton’s campaign.

“We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level,” he said, pointing to Iowa, as a state that he won and Clinton lost badly.

“I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry.”

© – AFP 2016

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