Thursday, Barack Obama put aside his profound differences with Donald Trump to offer him a graceful welcome to the White House and to pledge his aid in a successful transition of power. Hours later, the president-elect took to Twitter to throw a fit about protestors upset with his victory, who had taken to the streets of several American cities:
Twitter users almost instantly remembered that Trump called for protests in the form of a march on Washington when Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in the 2012 election. They wasted no time in pointing out his hypocrisy:
However it appears that, in this matter, Trump had a second thought about his reaction. Nine hours after whingeing about fairness, Trump seems to have educated himself on the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, enshrined in the first amendment of the United States constitution.
The two tweets are almost like Khrushchev’s two letters to Kennedy during the height of the Cuban missile crisis: one aggressive, one conciliatory. Which one are we supposed to believe?
The entire episode is a reminder that Trump will be the least politically experienced president to assume office in the history of the United States. His supporters see this attribute as an invaluable asset in reforming Washington. His detractors are terrified that his lack of knowledge of some of the basic precepts, duties, and limits of the United States government will lead to tyranny and fascism.
All Americans should hope that both sides are wrong. Trump will need to learn to pilot the ship of state even as it steams across the sea, with the American population on board, hoping he doesn’t crash into an iceberg. Citizens, not just journalists, must monitor his presidency with vigilance, holding him to account and demanding respect for their hard-won rights, especially those proclaimed in recent years. But when Trump makes a course correction to fix a mistake or misstatement—as, undoubtedly, he will many times over his term—we should be grateful. A president Trump who compounds inexperience with stubbornness and hubris is a far more dangerous leader to contend with.