Monday, May 1, 2017

An Obama thought

From a New York Times editorial:

It is disheartening that a man whose historic candidacy was premised on a moral examination of politics now joins almost every modern president in cashing in. And it shows surprising tone deafness, more likely to be expected from the billionaires the Obamas have vacationed with these past months than from a president keenly attuned to the worries and resentments of the 99 percent.
If I were Barack Obama, I would have skipped the $400,000 speech and sought an opportunity to speak at an Illinois state university’s commencement. Not at the state’s flagship institution: at a second-tier (“regional”) school, any second-tier school. I would have used the occasion to speak about higher education as a public good, as something deserving of strong support from the state’s governor, legislature, and people. I would have done it for no fee. I would have paid for the cost of security myself. But I’m not Barack Obama. And neither, in some ways, is he.

Related reading
All OCA Illinois budget crisis posts (Pinboard)
Obama on the Titanic (In Springfield)

[Illinois has gone nearly two years without a full state budget.]

comments: 9

The Crow said...

Oh...oh, crud! My knight's armor has a spot of tarnish. And here I was, just a few minutes ago feeling sad that we likely never will again see a man of his intelligence, his courage, kindness and compassion, his grace and kindness (probably never a woman, either) in our White House. Not after the Trump precedent has been established, and the ease with which our lawmakers are allowing the rape and plunder of our America to take place. OUR America. Seems to me all the good - hard-won and costly - that we accomplished over the last 70-plus years, all the steps forward (often blood-soaked, faces tear-stained, hearts bruised but hopeful)- all has been lost to disinterest, ignorance, hate, greed and power-grabbing.

Odd, though, that I cannot remember any one or any editorial casting such aspersions at other former Presidents after they left office. Oh, speaking fees and book-deal fees were mentioned, yes. But none of those men were held to the same stringent standards espoused in the editorial quoted here. But, then, none of those men could be called a Man of the People, could they?

Your suggestion has noble intent. Seems to me, however, that it asks that Obama rise above his humanity, that - perhaps - he act more like Christ might have were he in Obama's shoes. But Barack Obama is only a Man of the People; an unemployed Man of the People, at that.

Michael Leddy said...

Unemployed, yes, but with a $65-million book deal (with Michelle). He’s the best president of my lifetime, no doubt. If I’m expecting something different from him now, it’s because I saw him as different from other politicians. Even if I ought not to see him in that way, I think a $400,000 speech for Cantor Fitzgerald is a matter of pretty poor optics.

Michael Leddy said...

P.S.: I don’t like seeing the Clintons or anyone else cashing in either.

The Crow said...

Michael, if I have offended you with my words, I sincerely apologize.

I'm going to re-read your post, try to find what I got wrong, then will try again, via e-mail if you prefer. (I was truly missing my knight-President today, feeling discouraged by the performances of the Trump Circus and Freak Show; not excusing my response, at all, but I think my emotional state spilled into what I wrote. I am sorry.)

Michael Leddy said...

Martha, I don’t think you got anything wrong. I’m disappointed in his choice. You don’t have to see it as I do. :) The comments on the Times website show a lot of readers who are much more supportive of Obama than that editorial is. I think we should all hope that Obama builds a great post-presidency.

Frex said...

"I’m not Barack Obama. And neither, in some ways, is he."

Good one. True from the beginning, I think.

Wouldn't it be heartening if O were to become a former president along the lines of Jimmy Carter? Doesn't seem to be headed that way... yet.
But then, Carter was not much such a good president when he was president.

"Former President Jimmy Carter "seldom accepts speaking fees," The Associated Press wrote in 2002, "and when he does he typically donates the proceeds to his charitable foundation." His fee for speaking about healthcare, government and politics, and retirement and aging was listed at $50,000 at one time, though.

"Carter was openly critical of Ronald Reagan at one time, though, for taking $1 million for a single speech. Carter said he'd never take that much, * * *but added quickly: "I've never been offered that much."*** [Ha! I like his honesty there.]

"That's not what I want out of life," Carter said in 1989. "We give money. We don't take it."

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, the criticism of former presidents getting big fees has gone on for a long time. To take that kind of money from a Wall Street firm, just months after Hillary Clinton/Goldman Sachs, seems a poor choice. I’d still rather see him speak at a state school. :)

zzi said...

Why are you surprised? "President Obama took more money from Wall Street in the 2008 campaign than anybody ever had," she said.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, but. Politifact rates that claim as Mostly True: “accurate but needs clarification or additional information.” Hillary Clinton followed that statement with “And when it came time to stand up to Wall Street, he passed and signed the toughest regulations since the Great Depression, with the Dodd-Frank regulations.” And Mitt Romney received more money in 2012.