Obama: A president who isn't serious 'won't be there very long'

USA TODAY - President-elect Donald Trump's change in tone after the election needs to be reflected not only in his words, but in how he fills key administration posts, President Obama said Thursday.

"What may work in generating enthusiasm or passion during elections may be different than what will work in terms of unifying the country and gaining the trust even of those who didn't support him," Obama said. "And my sense is that is something he is thinking about, because not only is the president of the United States somebody that the entire country looks to for direction, but he sets the agenda internationally in a lot of ways."

Obama, in Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, spoke in response to questions — from both American and German reporters — about Trump's ability to form an inclusive government.

Particularly controversial was Trump's appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist, on par with his chief of staff. Bannon, the former CEO of the provocative Breitbart News, has been criticized for misogynist and anti-Semitic comments and stories from his web site.

But Obama said he was "cautiously optimistic" that Trump would grow into the job. "There is something about the solemn responsibilities of that office," he said that "forces you to focus and demands seriousness. And if you;re not serious about the job, you probably wont be there very long, because it will expose problems."

Obama also said he would not discourage people from protesting Trump's election. But he said people need to continue to be vigilant throughout election cycles. "We have to engage in citizenship continuously, not just when something upsets us, or when there's an election," he said.

That includes paying attention to where information is coming from, he said. Obama lamented the rise of "active misinformation" and even fake news that's made its way into Facebook feeds and television news programs.

Copyright 2016 USA TODAY


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