It has been discovered that Donald Trump has regular telephone communication with the incumbent president and is seeking Barrack Obama’s advice on appointments. Given that Trump made a point of repeating in his past campaign that Barack Obama “has been the worst president ever,” the fact that the President would want to talk to this man may seem odd, at the very least.
But some context on transitions helps explain why the two men are talking.
We should peg the modern presidential transition to Dwight Eisenhower’s decision in 1960, to do a better job of transferring power than his predecessor, Harry Truman had when Eisenhower assumed the presidency.
A patriot, Eisenhower made this precedent-setting decision despite believing to his core that his successor, John F. Kennedy was unworthy of the White House.
Indeed, he may have wanted the transition to involve a broad exchange of information between incomers and out-goers, or because he thought Kennedy was so woefully unprepared.
Talking to the first African-American President and hoping that many people will have amnesia about the birther movement Trump led to delegitimize Obama cannot hurt in this regard, though it is incredibly cynical.
Whatever Trump’s motives or the fact he seems unconcerned about telling people he is asking Obama’s advice on appointments signals he is confident he can control his supporters. This may ultimately prove to be hubris, but Trump clearly thinks that wherever he leads, his base will follow. Unlike his collaborators in the GOP congressional caucus, he currently doesn’t fear being “tea partied”.
Here is a YouTube video and first meeting in the White House between trump and Obama.