Saturday, December 24, 2016

Obama, Trump, and the Turf War That Has Come to Define the Transition

It's been an unusual transition, at least for Donald Trump's tweeting, heh.

(But obviously much more than that. I don't ever recall an outgoing administration dissing the notion of concurrent "co-presidencies," but Ben Rhodes, Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor, did just that a few days ago.)

In any case, at the New York Times (via Memeorandum):

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump and President Obama have been unfailingly polite toward each other since the election. But with Mr. Trump staking out starkly different positions from Mr. Obama on Israel and other sensitive issues, and the president acting aggressively to protect his legacy, the two have become leaders of what amounts to dueling administrations.

The split widened on Friday when the Obama administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote that condemned Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and allowed the resolution to pass. A day earlier, Mr. Trump had publicly demanded that Mr. Obama veto the measure, even intervening with Egypt at the request of Israel to pressure the administration to shelve the effort.

“As to the U.N.,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote, “things will be different after Jan. 20.”

It was the latest in a rapid-fire series of Twitter posts and public statements over the last week in which Mr. Trump has weighed in on Israel, terrorism and nuclear proliferation — contradicting Mr. Obama and flouting the notion that the country can have only one president at a time.

That longstanding principle has largely collapsed since the victory by Mr. Trump, who campaigned on a strategy of breaking all the rules and has continued to speak in unmodulated tones.

“In some ways, Trump is neutering the Obama administration,” said Douglas G. Brinkley, a professor of history and a presidential historian at Rice University in Houston. “They’ve avoided personally attacking each other, but behind the scenes, they’re working to undermine each other, and I don’t know how the American people benefit from that.”

For its part, the Obama administration on Tuesday announced a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Eastern Seaboard, invoking an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, to claim that Mr. Trump had no power to reverse it.

White House officials asserted a similar privilege in their decision not to veto the Security Council resolution. Israel’s aggressive construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they said, puts at risk a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Trump’s opposition to the measure, and the likelihood that his administration will reverse the position, played no part in the decision, they said.

“There’s one president at a time,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “There’s a principle here that the world understands who is speaking for the United States until January 20th, and who is speaking for the United States after January 20th.”
Ben Rhodes? What an idiot.

I saw the guy on cable news and he looked like a dork.  Just having to declare there's "only one president at a time" illustrates just how weak the outgoing administration is.