The man who was until recently President of the United States looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world. While much of the world is watching his successor in horror, Obama is having fun with Richard Branson.
I don't know, maybe he is worried about Donald Trump dismantling his legacy, reversing his values and setting history alight, but he certainly looks like he has replaced any such concerns with the sea, sun and mirrored shades. He radiates only happiness in his holiday photographs.
For anyone who has woken up worried and scared by Trump, this gleeful display of sheer satisfaction with life may seem a bit rich. Of course Obama deserves to have fun, but what about our country? Obama surfs while America burns.
Has Obama completely forgotten all sense of responsibility and opted for a life of hedonism while the planet goes to hell? And why does he look so happy?
He has completed eight years in office that already look like a golden age of decency and common sense and he can do whatever he wants. But, Branson’s opportunistic release of these images has provoked attacks on Obama’s coziness with the world of wealth.
But, let's think again. These pictures might not be in accordance with the moment we live in, but is it possible that what we see in them is not of selfish joy, but hope?
He knows Trump. They have met. So maybe Obama believes he has got the measure of his successor. Maybe he thinks there is less to worry about than many of us fear.
Maybe Obama has been doing some reading on the beach between water-sport exploits, and has dipped into some 20th-century history and recognized the frightening parallels between the acts, statements and style of this administration and the rhetoric and ideologies of European dictators in the 1920s and 1930s.
Maybe Obama is confident because he knows that, regardless of whether or not the current stay on Trump’s US entry ban stands, this early confrontation with the checks and balances built into the US Constitution reveals a basic ignorance in Trump's attempt to impose a “strong man” rule on America. The founding fathers put these checks and balances in place to prevent the rise of a tyrant.
Maybe Obama knows that the Trump “movement” – as Trump likes to call it – died on inauguration day. Maybe he knows that without a mass movement that makes itself physically felt on the streets, there can be no future for Mussolini-style bluster. It is the left who are on the streets. It is his enemies who have the youth, anger and numbers.
Maybe Obama is smiling because he knows this is going to be the most ineffectual dictatorship ever.
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