Jonathan Chait argues
And so the man who thought he was through with politics has, it turns out, one more essential role left: Beginning next year, Obama needs to rally the opposition, to community-organize his coalition, and to exploit his celebrity to make the case for saving his legacy. His visibility alone would serve a vital function.
Obama is a powerful symbol of rationalism, thoughtfulness, and pluralism -- the ultimate anti-Trump, both ideologically and symbolically. Women, religious minorities, immigrants and prospective immigrants, transgender people, young Africans with iPhones, the beat-down opposition in places like Russia and China, and the people who bully all the preceding groups and more -- the whole planet, really -- need reminding that Obama’s version of America has prevailed before and will prevail again.
A much more than skeptical Steve M. responds
But we see how Obama is reacting to Trump's election. He's trying to ensure a smooth handover of power -- and I don't believe that's just in order to show that he's a better man than Trump. I think Obama genuinely believes that peaceful transitions are a hallmark of American democracy. I also think he learned a long time ago how not to be the angry man who rocks the boat, and he's reverting to that mode of behavior now.
If Obama is acting this way after the election of a man who's treated him with utter contempt (and whom he clearly despises), why should we expect him to to cast aside the tradition that an ex-president shouldn't criticize a sitting president?
Only time will tell. But wait- we already know.
The "most undercovered story of 2016," Ari Berman tweeted on Election Day, is that "today is 1st presidential election in 50 years without full protections of Voting Rights Act." Mrs. Clinton reportedly has noted "There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful … our analysis is that Comey’s letter raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be, stopped our momentum.” And then there is the matter of the electoral college system.
Meanwhile, back at the office of Please Don't Notice That Mrs. Clinton Ran for a Third Obama Term, the President told reporters
You know, I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There are some counties maybe I won that people didn’t expect because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for.
"It would be nice to have him leading the battle," Steve M. concludes, "but we really shouldn't count on it." Not count on it? We can bet the ranch against it.