What has Barack Obama been up to since he left office? In case you haven’t been keeping up with the All Things Obama network, the 44th president spent nearly a month in the South Pacific, vacationing in French Polynesia. As part of that journey he spent a while tooling around on David Geffen’s super yacht with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey. And that was after spending some time kite-surfing with Richard Branson on a private island in the Caribbean and golfing at exclusive clubs in southern California. Am I here to complain about that? Nope. The Obamas have parlayed their former positions into some sweet book deals and other opportunities and are enjoying the fruits of their success. This is America and they should get out there and enjoy it as they see fit.
But now the vacation is over, at least for the moment, and the former President is heading back to Chicago to give a speech and get in on all of that hot “Resist!” action that’s going on. (Washington Times)
Steel yourselves. Barack Obama’s about to emerge from the shadows — and first stop, University of Chicago.
Why there? No doubt, it’s one of the more receptive breeding grounds for his particular brand of activism — the activism he’ll be touting to malleable student-age minds while engaging in, as his people called it, a “conversation about community organizing and civic engagement.:”
Make no mistake about it. This is about teaching the upcoming generation, loud as it already is about all topics that offend, to get even louder, even Leftist Prouder, and to — here’s the gist — use that Leftist Loud and Proud persona to tackle the problem of President Donald Trump.
That’s pretty much how Obama’s spokesperson frames it.
“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” a statement about the event from Obama aides read.
Let’s jump into the Way Back Machine for a moment and return to November 21st of last year. The dust had only begun to settle from the election, and Obama was holding a press conference in Peru during his farewell tour. At that time he told reporters, “I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance.” Of course, he did leave himself an out by saying that he might not remain silent if something came up where he needed to, “defend our values and our ideals” from Trump.
That was already a fairly significant shift away from what he was saying in May of 2016 when he sent Valerie Jarrett out on the cable news circuit to tell everyone that he would be “staying out of politics like George W. Bush” after he left. She went on to clarify, saying that, “he will leave being the president to the new president when he moves out of the White House…”
Of course, that was when he still expected Hillary Clinton to be moving in. Obviously he didn’t want to get in her way. What a difference an election makes, eh? By January 18th he was already laying out a series of “red lines” which, if they were crossed by Donald Trump, would drag him “back into the fray.” That list wound up including pretty much anything that any Republican would be working on as part of their agenda, so we should have seen this coming. (Strangely enough, this is the same guy who couldn’t enforce a red line against chemical weapons use in Syria but apparently has a much stiffer spine fighting the results of an American election.)
Let’s compare that to Obama’s own predecessor. When Bush 43 left office you hardly ever heard from him. He did give one speech in Canada on energy exploration a few months later where all he really had to contribute was an acknowledgement that the power had shifted and he needed to get out of the way. (New York Times)
Mr. Bush said he hoped that President Obama would succeed, adding, “He deserves my silence, and if he wants my help he is welcome to call me.”
That was about it. You almost never saw Bush doing anything in public after that except for hosting charity bike rides for wounded warriors or talking about his new hobby of painting. He cleared the decks. The same could be said for Bill Clinton, really. He was very active with his foundation, and yes, it moved a lot of money, but his speeches were predominantly focused on charitable causes and he wasn’t crossing swords with Bush every five minutes. In fact, pretty much all of the presidents in the modern era have followed that tradition.
We keep hearing from the media about what an unusual and unconventional presidency we have now and how Trump is breaking all the rules. What about this tradition? Doesn’t Barack Obama deserve some scolding from the editorial boards of the major newspapers? Don’t hold your breath. What was admirable and saluted when George W. Bush did it is now quaint and out of fashion. Expect everyone to be breathlessly covering all of Barack Obama’s interventions in the political scene as if he were still in office.