President Barack Obama congratulated President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, and invited him to a meeting at the White House, honouring a tradition that will bring together in one room two men who genuinely can’t stand each other.
That’s on Thursday, according to the White House.
Not only do the two don’t like each other, Trump has vowed to reverse or rescind some of Obama’s major legacy projects such as healthcare reforms, which, the Republican has said, will be repealed during his first days in office.
Many people trace Trump’s decision to run for presidency to a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner during which Obama excoriated the real estate tycoon, who was in the audience, mocking him as a lightweight who worried about small things.
The annual dinner is time for the President to mock himself, his critics, friends and whoever else he thinks is fair game. That night, April 30, 2011, Obama turned on Trump, a leading member of the “birther” controversy.
Birthers believed till recently, when their high priest Trump recanted in a change of heart, that Obama was not qualified to be president because he was born outside America, and they long suggested he was born in Kenya, his father’s country.
“Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” Obama said. “And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell (of the UFO connection)? And where are Biggie and Tupac (rappers killed mysteriously, but separately)?”
“But all kidding aside,” Obama landed in, “obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr Trump, recognised that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.”
Unknown to anyone but a handful of people, including then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Navy SEALs were on their way then to a mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. The president announced bin Laden’s death later that night.
Trump, who is not known to take slights and jibes lightly, has claimed he actually enjoyed the ribbing that night, but sceptics believe the slight may have nudged, if not pushed, Trump towards running, a notion he has teased every cycle.
But his relationship with Obama, non-existent at a personal level, has had plenty of airtime from both sides, with neither having anything pleasant to say about the other. They have appeared to dislike each other intensely.
Thursday may be another story.