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Donald Trump and Obama’s shadow

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(FILES) This file photo taken on November 10, 2016 shows US President Barack Obama meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC. US President-elect Donald Trump on December 28, 2016 accused Barack Obama of making “inflammatory” statements and complicating the impending transfer of power — the latest salvo in an escalating war of words with the current commander-in-chief. The unorthodox personal and public criticism of a sitting president comes less than a month before the 70-year-old Trump — who defeated Obama’s preferred successor Hillary Clinton in November’s presidential election — takes office.<br /> / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON

Sir: In the wake of recent horrific gas attack on civilians in Syria, the void in the Donald Trump administration’s foreign policy became quite pronounced.

Initially, the White House was unusually quiet in its reaction to the ugly incident. While the attack was swiftly and roundly condemned by leaders across the world, the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who was then on a visit to neighbouring Jordan disregarded questions from probing newshounds about the event, thereby maintaining his habitual quietness in the face of troubling global occurrences.

When the Trump administration eventually found its voice, it simply laid the blame on former President Barack Obama. In what now seems like a routine, President Trump used the attack, which killed dozens of people, including children, to score a cheap domestic political point against Barack Obama when he described it as a direct consequence of Obama’s Syria policy. He said: These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the last administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.

The response, no doubt, exemplified President Trump’s continuing sense of being in his predecessor’s shadow. There is, perhaps, no other event that portrays President Trump’s obvious discomfort with Obama’s shadow other than his administration’s recent bungling of its controversial health care legislation. After the health bill hit the brick wall, President Trump blamed everyone but himself. Characteristically, President Trump fingered Obama as the key guy responsible for the premature death of his health bill.

Ironically, President Trump’s Republican Party controls the majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate. That he could not push through his first major bill in a government where his party controls the legislative arm speaks volume of the amateurish character of the government he leads. In a nutshell, it would do Mr. Trump and his administration not much of a good, if he continues to make chasing the shadow of Obama a key policy of his administration.

• Tayo Ogunbiyi,
Ikeja, Lagos



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