When looking for support for his foreign policy, President Barack Obama wants Republicans to line up behind him because politics should stop at the water’s edge. But when trying to elect a Democratic successor, Mr. Obama takes politics with him wherever he goes, including to this week’s G-7 Summit in Japan. Speaking at a press conference, he pontificated on the ongoing primary elections, including sharp jabs at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. While he might think that his attacks on Trump’s “ignorance” and “cavalier attitude” will somehow help former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they in fact diminish not only Mr. Obama and his office, but the country he has traveled overseas to represent.
Mr. Obama’s conduct is especially striking when contrasted with that of former President George W. Bush, who generally declined to become involved in the 2008 election campaign — despite the fact that then-Senator Obama was regularly assailing his leadership. President Bush even had his own opportunity to criticize candidate Obama from the podium at a G-8 Summit in Japan, but refused to do so despite a journalist’s question that provided just such an opportunity. Indeed, when Senator Obama lashed out at Mr. Bush after interpreting some of his comments during a speech in Israel as criticism, a White House aide explicitly stated that Mr. Bush’s remarks were not directed at Obama. In fact, if President Bush had wanted to do what Mr. Obama just did in Japan, it would have been very easy.