How Donald Trump and Barack Obama Respond Differently to Controversy

President Donald Trump operates in stark contrast to his predecessor, Barack Obama. Both presidents react to controversies in different ways. Ahead, we break down how each one handles a dispute.

Trump shares his opinion through Twitter; Obama shares his at a town hall

Barack Obama answers a question about gun control at town hall

Obama speaks up at town hall. | PBS via YouTube

An avid Twitter user, Trump voices his opinion on the social media site regularly. From sharing his feelings about elections and politicians, Trump is very forthcoming with his opinions. In contrast, Obama shares his feeling at town hall meetings. Take, for example, Obama answering a question about gun control in a televised town hall.

Trump uses inflammatory language; Obama uses diplomatic language


The president lashes out against those who oppose him. | Donald J. Trump via Twitter

Voicing his opinion on Twitter, Trump uses words like “lightweight,” “crooked,” and “flunky.” On the other hand, Obama uses other choice words on his Twitter account. Such as, “efforts,” “community,” and “progress.” While Trump’s words are inflammatory, Obama’s are diplomatic.

Trump shows his emotions; Obama is more reserved

Presidents Trump and Xi US and China

Trump was very clear how he felt about China. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Trump regularly shares his feelings with the public, whether on social media or during interviews and speeches. For instance, after tweeting he’s “very disappointed with China,” Chinese officials responding in kind, calling Trump’s tweet “emotional venting,” according to Politico. After meetings with other nations, Obama is known to be more reserved with his feelings, giving more vague answers.

Trump lashes out; Obama does not

Trump tweet about Doug Jones

He makes his opinions on elections very clear. | Donald J. Trump via Twitter

During Alabama’s special election, Trump makes his feelings clear about the Senator-elect, democrat Doug Jones. Following the election, Trump takes to Twitter to share his feelings about the election results. “If last night’s election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase the razor thin margins in both the House and Senate,” Trump tweeted. In contrast, Obama does not lash out.

Trump thrives on controversy; Obama does not

President Barack Obama waves as he exits The White House wearing sunglasses

Obama is all about keeping it cool. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Trump’s personality comes alive during controversy. During a dispute, he demonstrates his frank speaking skills. Trump “stokes new controversy with tweet,” The Washington Post says. Unlike Trump, Obama is less likely to respond to a situation with a tweet, pushing a controversy forward. After all, one of his nicknames is ‘no drama Obama.’

Trump doesn’t attempt to change policy; Obama does

Obama tried to make things happen after tragedy struck. | Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Following the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, Trump doesn’t offer policy changes, according to USA Today. During Obama’s presidency, a mass shooting in Connecticut occurs, Newsweek says. After the shooting Obama gives a speech. “We can’t tolerate this anymore,” Obama said. “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.[…] But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this,” Obama said. Both Trump and Obama’s reactions demonstrate how they respond to controversies.

Trump focuses on the past; Obama focuses on the future

Donald Trump at a campaign rally

He believes that America was better in the past. | Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Take both presidents’ campaign slogans. Trump’s slogan, “make America great again,” evokes feelings of the past. Obama’s slogans, “change we can believe in,” and “forward,” evoke images of progress. Addressing conflicts, Trump focuses on his picture of America, a version of the “great” country from the past. While Obama addresses conflicts, he concentrates on changes to be made to effect the future of the country.

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