Barack Obama is a president known for unprecedented statements and behavior.

He lived up to that reputation this week when he asserted that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is “unfit to serve” as his successor.

It’s important to listen to the words he uttered and measure their implications carefully.

  • He said Trump would not abide by “norms and rules and common sense.”
  • He questioned whether he would “observe basic decency” should he reach the Oval Office.
  • He said he would have been disappointed to lose the elections of 2008 and 2012, but never doubted whether his rivals in those elections, John McCain and Mitt Romney, could function as president or had the knowledge to make government work. “That’s not the situation here,” he added.
  • He added Trump “doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding, to occupy the most powerful position in the world.”
  • He said he was “woefully unprepared to do this job.”
  • Obama said Trump lacked knowledge about Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Asia.

It’s clear Obama has no use for Donald Trump. But that’s not really the point here.

Like it or not, and I don’t like it, Obama is the sitting president of the United States until Jan. 20, 2017.

The question this harsh, unprecedented attack by a sitting president on a major-party nominee to succeed him raises should be obvious: What happens if Donald Trump wins the election in November?

Given what Obama has said about Trump, would he not have an obligation to prevent Trump from assuming office? And what would that mean to the peaceful process America has enjoyed for more than two centuries of transitions of power?

These are questions Americans have never before been confronted with in American history.

Should we not be concerned about what Obama might do?

Should he not be asked pointedly about the implications of his stunning statements?

Should he not express exactly what his intentions are beforehand rather than to leave any doubt in the minds of the people?

If no one else will ask the question, I will: “Mr. President, if Donald Trump wins the election to become the next president of the United States, will you willingly and peacefully leave office and cooperate fully with the transition of power the way all of your predecessors in the White House have done in the past?”

It’s a simple question that needs to be asked and answered – given Obama’s highly inflammatory rhetoric over the last week.

There should be no doubt in the minds of the American people. There should be no veiled threats hanging over the heads of the citizenry as we prepare for the next election. It’s time for Obama to lay his cards on the table.

Will America follow the rule of law and the will of the people after the November election no matter what Obama might think about his successor?

Some may accuse me of being hyperbolic here – of raising questions that have no foundation for being asked. Maybe that’s true.

But never before in American history have we had a situation quite like this, in which a sitting president has used the power and prestige of his office – and, in this case, doing so inappropriately in the context of a joint press conference with a foreign leader – to declare in no uncertain terms that the nominee of one of the two major parties is uniquely unqualified and disqualified for the office of the presidency.

It’s time for clarity.

It’s time for Obama to address forthrightly and unequivocally the ramifications and implications of his shocking indictment of Trump.

It’s time for Obama to go on record as to whether he will respect the rule of law and the will of the people with regard to the 2016 election results.

Related column:

Who is ‘unfit’ to be president by Jack Cashill

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