Did you think Barack Obama was going to follow his predecessor, George W. Bush, and fade into the background after eight years in the White House?
Yeah, think again. Obama can’t stand being out of the spotlight for even one minute, which is why last week he embarked on an five-day trip to China, India and France, where he met with foreign leaders as if he were some sort of shadow president.
In Paris on Saturday, Obama said there is a “temporary absence of American leadership” when it comes to tackling climate change.
“I grant you that at the moment we have a temporary absence of American leadership on the issue,” the former president said, drawing laughter from French former ministers and CEOs at the invitations-only event, which was closed to the press.
Trump, who campaigned on “America First” and ripped the Paris accord on climate, pulled out of the lopsided deal once he took office. He has argued that the deal allowed China and India — where Obama coincidentally traveled to on his tour — to do whatever they like, while the United States would be caught up in regulations and bureaucracy.
But at least one world leader sought to put a little distance between himself and Obama.
“Earlier in the day, Obama had lunch with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace — although the French presidency told Reuters that was in a ‘private capacity’ and did not publicize the event with the usual tweet or official photo,” Reuters reported.
On his trip to Paris, Obama rambled on about other things he doesn’t like — as if anyone cares. Once again, he told European leaders how to govern their own countries.
In comments likely to raise eyebrows in Brussels, Obama said that although Europeans should not take for granted what the European project has accomplished since the end of World War Two, decision-making in the EU could be improved.
“I think for example that the European Union needs to recognize that micro-managing every single aspect of life within Europe gets people frustrated,” he said.
“So there are ways of streamlining and improving the functioning of the European Union, but the European project itself, the Union itself is something that is worth preserving,” he added.
On his departure from the White House, Bush famously announced that he would not comment on every jot and tittle of his successor. Obama, he said, has “got a hard enough job without everybody else trying to, you know, give him advice.”
A classy move, but one that Obama is clearly unable to emulate.