Barack Obama’s involvement in the 2018 cycle was always bound to be limited. The former president has stressed his desire for the future generation of Democratic leaders to step up, along with a reverence for norms dictating that ex-presidents should not criticize current ones. But with fear growing within the party that they may not win back either chamber of Congress, even members of Obama’s alumni network are beginning to question whether the detachment is strategic at all.
“Everyone agrees that he is doing very little. There is just a debate as to whether that is savvy or not,” said one former top Obama official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to candidly discuss the ex-president. “I think the people who are closest to him are probably all pretty comfortable with him not being as actively engaged. The people in circles of influences outward wish he was being engaged more.”…
But even those moves have produced a share of second-guessing and backseat criticisms. One member of Obama’s finance committee in both 2008 and 2012 called the endorsement of 300 candidates “not only imperial” but an act with “diluted impact.”
“Everyone would have been better served by him not only endorsing far fewer, but actually getting out and going door to door,” the donor said.