While the current part-time occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue uses the office of the Presidency as his reality-TV set while lining the coffers of his family businesses around the world (and in Florida), the Left will do what it does best: beat up on one of its own.
This ridiculous post by Vox decrying the purported $400,000 former President Obama is set to receive from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald to speak at their Healthcare Conference in September is the perfect example. Once again, President Obama is supposed to “rise above” and somehow give up his ability to earn what the market will bear for his services to prove some idiotic, quixotic point that the Left has put upon him.
To that I say, give me a break. Seriously. Feel free to criticize the President for whatever failings he may or may not have had while in office—that is fair game—but why is it anyone’s right to tell him from whom and how he should earn his living going forward? He has run in his last election, there is no Act II where he comes back to public service (though if he did, I would surely vote for him again).
He should not have to pass some arbitrary “purity test,” set forth by the chattering classes like Matt Yglesias, regarding to whom he speaks and how much he is paid. Speaking to investment bankers and their clients is not a crime, last I checked, unlike violations of the emoluments clause, such as promoting your for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida on the State Department website. Quite to the contrary, speaking to investors in healthcare while his signature piece of legislation in this industry is under attack by the new Administration, sounds to me like an excellent way to add his voice to the marketplace of ideas with those that may be in a position to affect the outcome. I’d tell him to do five more of those conferences if he can book them.
The bottom line is that once a United States President leaves office, he is free to do as he pleases. They are, of course, private citizens, with all the rights that you and I enjoy to earn money, if someone is willing to pay it. And let’s not forget that as far as ex-Presidential speaking fees go, Saint Ronald Reagan set the bar way back in 1989, when he accepted a whopping $2,000,000 ($4,000,000 in 2017 dollars) from Japanese entities after he left office, and that was covered in a whole lot of questions about whether he did so as a pay-for-play, or negotiated the fees while in office. This gig hasn’t even been confirmed as booked yet, and already President Obama is being told what he should do.
Not that he needs my approval, but I say to President Obama: go forth and take the money. You’ve earned it. You served your country. Don’t be cowed by anyone who wants to force you to fit their narrative.
Because whatever you give them, it will never be enough.