WASHINGTON: As long as the United States recognizes merit and provides equal opportunity to all, it will have not just a woman president but could also see a Latino President, a Jewish President, and a Hindu president in the future, America’s first mixed-race President Barack Obama said in his final press conference in the White House.
“I think we’re going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country. Because that’s America’s strength. If in fact we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah, we’re going to have a woman president. We’re going to have a Latino president. And we’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president,” Obama said at a farewell pow-wow with the media.
“I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them. And that’s fine,” he added amid laughter.
Obama’s remarks came when he was asked if, as the country’s first black president, he expected to something like this again, amid some political chatter that the Trump victory was the result of a backlash — or a whitelash — against minorityism.
But Obama’s expansive reply on the need for the United States to recognize the inequality that was pervasive in the country and to be more inclusive, while largely relating to minorities, also took into account the constituency that voted for Trump.
“There are a whole bunch of folks who voted for the president-elect because they feel forgotten and disenfranchised. They feel as if they’re being looked down on. They feel as if their kids aren’t going to have the same opportunities as they did. You don’t want to have an America in which a very small sliver of people are doing really well, and everybody else is fighting for scraps,” he said.
Trump, who will move in the White House on Friday after the noon inauguration was the 800lb gorilla in the room, with many of Obama’s remarks obliquely directed at him even when his name was not mentioned.
Even in his preamble outlining his relationship with the media, he told the press corps “having you in this building has made this place work better. It keeps us honest, it makes us work harder.” It was a dig at his successor, who wants to evict the media from the White House.
“That does not, of course, mean that I’ve enjoyed every story that you have filed, but that’s the point of this relationship. You’re not supposed to be fans, you’re supposed to be skeptics, you’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re … supposed to cast a critical eye and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here, and you have done that,” he said in remarks that contrasted sharply with the outlook of his successor, who has already development a reputation of being a thin-skinned narcissist at war with the press.
Asked what he intended to do after leaving the White House, Obama’s response was utterly self-effacing, and again, in sharp contrast to the constant self-aggrandizement of his successor : “I want to do some writing. I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much. I want to spend precious time with my girls.”
However, the man who will relinquish executive power after eight years warned that he will continue to be in public life, and while he may not get on a ballot again, he will speak up if core American values are in danger. He put in that category any institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press and any systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion, including any effort to discriminate against children of immigrants who were well integrated into American society.