Several years ago, I spoke with Dolly Parton for the first time, during a phone interview about her acclaimed Imagination Library reading program for Tennessee kids. It was a long day of interviews for Dolly, as she did one phone interview after another, talking with writers and radio personalities all across the nation. I had been told in advance that I would have five minutes with her, and no more. So I tried to ask questions I knew she wouldn’t be asked 100 more times that day, while still getting the nuts and bolts of what her innovative program was all about. We talked about The Little Engine That Could and how that never-give-up spirit has been a hallmark of her own up-from-poverty success story.
When we had chatted for about 4 1/2 minutes, I asked another quick question, which she answered just as quickly with a warm laugh. Then I took a chance and said, “I think that’s about all of my five minutes . . . unless you’ve got time for one more quick one.” She laughed out loud and said, “Your time’s up, mister!” And I laughed, too. Because I knew I’d agreed to just five minutes; she knew we’d just reached the five minute mark; and it was, “Nice talkin’ to you . . . buh-bye.” I loved it. Even after having subsequent in-person interviews with her that lasted 30-45 minutes or more, I still love the memory of being told, “Your time’s up, mister!”
While I’m quite thankful that my thoughts of Dolly Party never lead me to think about Barack Obama, I must confess that his activities since Donald Trump was sworn in have led me to think about that long-ago five-minute conversation with Dolly. The reason has nothing to do with whether you’re a fan of Trump, Obama or neither. But it does have to do with the long-accepted tradition that when one American president leaves office, he retires from the spotlight to give his successor an opportunity to do his (and someday, her) thing without being second-guessed at every turn by the person who just had 4-8 years to accomplish as much as possible.
Barack Obama said during his presidency that “America has one president at a time and one administration at a time” and that, once he left office, he would only speak out when “core values” were at stake. Of course, he also said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. And the average family of four will see health care premiums drop by $2500 per year.” And “Benghazi was caused by a horrible video.” So, did we really have any right to expect that he would honor his commitment to let Trump do his job without interference from the man Trump replaced? Apparently not.
On Jan. 30, Obama denounced President Trump’s temporary travel ban from six predominantly Muslim countries. He’s also attacked GOP efforts to fix his disastrous “health care” program. And he’s criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from the bogus Paris climate agreement. Obama has even embarked on a world tour that obviously shadows Trump’s visits with foreign leaders. As chronicled by Fox’s Lou Dobbs, Obama has met with the former prime ministers of both Britain and Italy. And he met with Germany’s Angela Merkel in May, just hours before her meeting with President Trump. Obama met with South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, just three days after the South Korean leader met with Trump at the White House. More recently, Obama “concidentally” showed up at the G-20 summit in Germany, where President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin met for the first time.
Violating every established protocol and traditional courtesy regarding how a former president treats his successor, Barack Obama has done as much to disrupt Donald Trump’s presidency as possible. Yes, Obama had eight years to do as much good or harm as he wanted. But, in his mind, that just wasn’t enough.
While I’m confident Dolly Parton would be too nice to ever say anything to Barack Obama about his despicable post-presidency behavior, I’m not. So, Mr. Obama, on behalf of millions of people who are thrilled that you are no longer in office and want to see the new guy have the same opportunities you were given. . . please GO THE HELL AWAY.
Your time’s up, mister.