Blog

SotW

November 17, 2016 by Speakers' Spotlight

Speak of the Week: President Obama’s First Meeting with President-Elect Trump

Last Thursday, the almost-unthinkable happened. President Obama shook the hand of the man who had, for years, incessantly accused him of faking his birthplace and ceaselessly harangued him for being a “disaster” as the leader of the United States of America. That hand, of course, belonged to the man who is now the president-elect of the USA — Donald Trump.

That handshake, surreal though it may have seemed to many, signaled Obama’s very real intentions to transition the change in leadership and governments in the smoothest way possible.

Demonstrating his magnanimity in the face of what he could very well fear is going to be a calamity, Obama spoke to Trump in front of the dozens of press gathered to witness the meeting, with grace.

“I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds,” he said.

Using words that were no doubt carefully chosen to emphasize to the spirit of which he hopes Trump will govern, Obama went on to tell the press that the closed-door conversation he’d earlier had with Trump had been “excellent”, and that he had been “encouraged” by Trump’s interest in co-operating with him and his team.

Last Thursday, Trump — a man who had only days earlier been campaigning on a platform rife with racism — sat alongside America’s first black president, and in front of a bust of none other than Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., poised to take over the leadership of the most powerful country in the world.

It was a moment that could not have been an easy one for Obama, but it was one that the President handled with his now-characteristic unflappability and generous measures of integrity, and in doing so, signalled to a nation (and indeed the world), that for the time being at least, the way to begin to heal the rift exposed in America by an ugly campaign is through a dedication to working together.

For this, we chose Obama as our Speak of the Week.