How history could make strange bedfellows of Obama and Trump: Keith Boag
New president might have tough time reversing Obama's key policies
And while it sounds farfetched now, there might also come a day when Obama will be grateful it was Trump and not a purebred Republican who became the custodian of his legacy.
After all, it's possible without President Obama there would be no President Trump.
"Birtherism" — the movement to cast in doubt that Obama is a natural-born American and therefore to brand him as ineligible to be president — was used by Trump in a disgraceful play for the affection of gullible Americans hungry for any excuse to deny legitimacy to the country's first black president. And it served its purpose.
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that <a href="https://twitter.com/BarackObama">@BarackObama</a>'s birth certificate is a fraud.—@realDonaldTrump
But the sheer number of people — tens of millions — who fell for the hoax confirmed to Trump that there was political gold in the racial resentments buried in a vein of the Republican base far away from the party mainstream. And he mined it.
Job not as advertised
But that moment will pass and Obama can take comfort in knowing what only a former president can really know: there is a frustrating difference between what the job appears to be and what it really is.
Trump has already made the same mistake Obama did years ago by overestimating the power of the office and boasting about how he will direct the future: jobs will flood back to the U.S., ISIS will be crushed and health care will be better and cheaper.
Difficult to keep promises
For instance, Trump surprised Republicans last week when he promised in a newspaper interview that his replacement for Obamacare would provide "insurance for everybody."
Suspicion grows around Washington that whatever Trump has in mind to replace Obamacare will have to look a lot like Obamacare if he's to keep his promises. If so, that will bring a smile to Obama's face and leave Republicans pulling their hair out.
In fact, the outgoing president seemed confident in his final news conference this week that the new president will find it more challenging than he imagined to undo several of his policies.
He said he expects Trump will find there are few simple solutions to complex problems and that "may lead him to some of the same conclusions that I arrived at once I got here."
No running commentary
He has said he won't provide running commentary on how the Trump administration is faring, but will speak out if core values around race, voting rights, free speech and the right to dissent are threatened.
In the meantime, his approval rating has soared into the upper 50s, joining the likes of Bill Clinton, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as the highest-rated outgoing presidents since the Second World War.
That's a stunning turnaround for Obama and a stark contrast to Trump's approval rating, which stands around 40 per cent and is the lowest in polling history for an incoming president.