Remember when Obama promised the people, “I will eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program?”

Yes, that was eight years ago. Now, he’s living with his own unfulfilled legacy–and using it to downplay Trump’s fresh trade promise. 

President Barack Obama recently returned from an Asia-Pacific economic summit in Peru, possibly his final foreign trip as America’s guiding influence.

Some Positive Notes

President Barack Obama answers some questions at his press conference during the APEC 2016 Summit in Peru. Image Source: Jose Orihuela via APEC PERU 2016President Barack Obama answers some questions at his press conference during the APEC 2016 Summit in Peru. Image Source: Jose Orihuela via APEC PERU 2016

During a talk with global leaders present, Obama answered questions about President-elect Donald Trump’s trade agenda. The presiding president took time to address matters concerning America’s trading partners, telling them not to “assume the worst,” with regard to the next administration.

Obama encouraged, “don’t make immediate judgments,” hedging his statements by saying, “How you campaign is not always how you govern.”

With Obama leaving the free world’s highest office soon, several Asia-Pacific countries including China and Mexico, are pensive. Donald Trump’s commonly stated concerns about both the currency manipulation in China and NAFTA’s inadequacies, are troubling to those who’ve gained comfort in the benefits they receive.

Let’s Go Back to 2008: Obama’s Trade Agenda

It reverts back to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He had a fair share of strong talk on China’s currency issues, and criticized NAFTA as well.

Unfortunately, he never succeeded in following through with his promise. Hence the irony of his commentaries this past weekend.

trade agendaObama’s thoughts about NAFTA in 2008. Image Source: Politics @ 30 Frames per Second

It is kind of captivating actually, to recall what the president stated in April 2008, at a forum of presidential contenders held by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM).

In a Trump-like manner, Obama spoke of China’s need for the United States’ market. He also talked about how their economy is dependent on trade with the U.S.

He also claimed to have bargaining power. Obama added a setback, “for all the tough talk from George W. Bush, he lacks transacting these agreements.”

 

Obama argued about the U.S.’s need for better negotiation, and tough-talked China saying, “…look, here the bottom line, you guys keep on manipulating your currency, we are going to start shutting off access to some of our markets.”

He also talked about NAFTA when running a close call race with Hillary Clinton in Ohio during the 2008 primaries. Barack Obama pressured and intimidated autonomous action on NAFTA, saying that the “hammer of a potential opt-out” provides “leverage” to renegotiate the settlement.

Barry, What’s Good?

And now, in 2016, we observe Obama telling foreign leaders that Trump might not be able to follow through on his tough talk. What’s most unlucky for the country though, is if Obama had only kept his own promises on the trade agenda, Donald Trump wouldn’t have the need to suggest the same sequence of action eight years later.

Isn’t it strange how President Obama talks down Trump’s rhetoric when he undoubtedly seems to be the same kind of “patsy” he accused Bush of being?

With Obama failing to make any substantial strides, it is even more imperative for Trump to push this agenda.

Why is Obama attempting to defuse Trump’s potential impact? Is it a diversionary tactic so people won’t focus on his unfulfilled promises? Is jealousy the real motive here?