In the midst of his farewell tour in Europe, President Obama finally addressed the anti-Trump protests. During a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama answered questions from the press with long, drawn-out answers pockmarked by persistent pauses.
(Editor's note: Skip to -48:00 to hear the press question and the start of Obama's remarks on the protests)
CBS News' foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan addressed the anti-Trump protests, asking Obama, "You've spoken a great deal about what you've characterized as kind of a crude form of nationalism perhaps on the rise. I'm wondering if you would advise some of the protesters at home to stop demonstrating against some of the charges rhetoric that has been used by Donald Trump. I'm wondering as well if you've advised your successor to be extra mindful what you see as some worrisome trends, particular when it comes to making his own potentially powerful staff picks."
Obama stared upwards for a few seconds before replying, "One of the great things about our democracy is that it expresses itself in all sorts of ways, and that includes people protesting."
After talking about how protesting presidents in common in America, Obama said the following:
"I would not advise people who feel strongly or are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign...I wouldn't advise them to be silent. What I would advise, what I advised before the election, and what I will continue to advise after the election is that elections matter, voting matters, organizing matters, being informed on the issues matter, and what I consistently say to young people — I say it in the United States, but I'll say it here in Germany and across Europe — do not take for granted our systems of government and our way of life. I think there is a tendency, because we have lived in an era that has been largely stable and peaceful — at least in advanced countries — where living standards have generally gone up, there is a tendency to, I think, assume that that is always the case. And it's not. Democracy is hard work. In United States, if 43% of eligible voters do not vote, then democracy is weakened. If we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not, and particularly in the nature of social media where so many people are getting their information in soundbites and snippets off of their phones, if we cannot discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems. If people, whether they are conservative and liberal, left or right, are unwillingly to compromise and engage in the democratic process and taking absolutist views and demonizing opponents, then democracy will break down. I think my most important advice is to understand what are the foundations of a healthy democracy and how we have to engage in citizenship continuously, not just when something upsets us. Not just when there's an election. Not just when an issue pops up for a few weeks. It's hard work. The good news is, I think there are a lot of young people — certainly who were involved in my campaigns and I think continue to be involve and work, not just politically, but through non-profits and other organizations — that can carry this hard work of democracy forward. But I do think sometimes there's complacency."
While in that rambling answer, it appeared that Obama was praising young people protesting that a democratically elected candidate was elected fair and square, he also made no mention of the numerous riots that have broken out and the anarchist involvement of paid George Soros-backed protesters.
Obama also strongly implied that Trump wasn't taking his upcoming role as president seriously, saying, "If you're not serious about the job, then you probably won't be there very long, because it will expose problems. I think the president-elect is going to see very quickly that the demands and responsibilities of a U.S. president are not ones that you can treat casually, and that in a big, complex, diverse country, the only way you can be successful is by listening and reaching out and by working with a wide variety of people."
What do you think of this?