As is tradition, outgoing presidents leave letters for the next commander-in-chief. Regardless of party affiliation, it is usually a warm gesture of encouragement and a reminder of the seriousness of the office.
Letters from Clinton to Bush, and Bush to Obama can be seen here.
On Sunday morning, the contents of the letter that President Trump received from Barack Obama on inauguration day were released, as reported by CNN.
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,
The letter follows much the same pattern as those from Clinton and Bush, if not a bit longer. After writing the letter in January, Obama did not show the letter to anyone. Since he took office, it has been reported that President Trump would only show the contents of the letter to a select few.
Obama, when writing the letter, didn’t disclose the content even to his closest aides. Since then, however, Trump has shown the letter to visitors in the Oval Office or his private White House residence. CNN obtained a copy from someone Trump showed it to.
Trump, however, is said to cherish Obama’s missive.
“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.”
Despite what you may think of either the current or former president, the gesture between the two, and obvious appreciation by the newest commander-in-chief, is a reminder of our nation’s ability to continue with peaceful transfers of power.
It’s safe to say that there is no love lost between Barack Obama and Donald Trump. It has been made more than clear that Obama and his staff were almost certain of a Hillary Clinton victory on election day. One only needs to look at the pictures of White House staff assembled in the Rose Garden on November 9, 2016, sullen as their boss congratulated the new president-elect.
However personally disappointed a president may be at the thought of his “enemy” winning, it is necessary that something like the inauguration day letter remain free from obvious partisanship. I appreciate the words Obama wrote to Trump, and Trump appears to be more than grateful for them, too. We expect the same sort of encouraging gesture from any future outgoing president as well.
There is no need to make this one about partisan politics. We all want what is best for the country, including continued prosperity and security. The specifics of that success and how we go about achieving it is what separates us so divisively.
It is evident that President Trump cherishes the words written to him as he took office. He most definitely should.