The Cost of Barack Obama’s Speech

He wrote in 2006: “I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met. I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of … the people that I’d entered public life to serve.”

Is it a betrayal of that sentiment for the former president to have accepted a reported $400,000 to speak to a Wall Street firm? Perhaps not, but 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.

.. But why not elevate a new generation of political leaders and stay true to his values by giving his speech fees to his foundation and other charities focused on those goals?

.. As the presidential election clarified so painfully, the traditional party of working people has lost touch with them

.. There’s little doubt that Democratic leaders’ unseemly attachment to the party’s wealthiest donors contributed to that indictment.

.. we have the audacity to hope he’ll set a higher standard for past presidents.

Is $60 million really not enough for the Obamas?

In collecting $400,000 from a Wall Street investment firm to make a single speech, Barack Obama is following in the Gucci-clad footsteps of past presidents. Ronald Reagan landed a $2 million speaking gig in Japan. George W. Bush, on his way out, announced it was time to “replenish the ol’ coffers.” Bill and Hillary Clinton reported making more than $235 million after leaving the White House.

But to acknowledge that Obama has plenty of precedent on his side is not to say that his choice is wise. Indeed, it’s unfortunate.

.. It comes after a campaign in which Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speaking fees became a symbol of entitled elitism. So imagine the powerful message Obama would have sent — the reverse precedent — had he chosen to renounce this road to riches.

.. Or, imagine this, had he chosen to speak publicly, at as many places and on as many topics as he liked. Just not behind closed doors, for an amount equivalent to his White House salary — and seven times what the typical household makes in a year.

.. But is this rapaciousness really the image he wants to cultivate — for himself or for fellow Democrats? Having left his party in such terrible condition, does he really have to offer opponents ammunition to attack him as hypocritical?

.. Hogwash. This isn’t about holding the black guy to a higher standard — it’s about trying to hold everyone to a higher standard. Times have changed, and what was once placidly accepted as post-presidential business-as-usual may no longer be.

.. A wise man once said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.

Donald Trump’s Stunning Win

Trump did not win this election alone. He won it because he was the candidate of the Republican Party. He could not have won if the leaders of that party had withdrawn their support in a manner that was designed to deal him a defeat, rather than to provide them with an alibi. In the last days, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and a Wisconsin congressman, campaigned for Trump openly, tweeting and speaking of the glories of a “unified Republican government.” He and his fellow-Republicans allowed this to happen.

There was also the quicksilver word of 2016: trust.

.. It would be wrong to deny that she made certain mistakes which crippled her bid, particularly in the period between when she left the State Department and when she announced her candidacy, for example in taking large sums of money from financial institutions for paid speeches—which was legal, but she seemed oblivious to how it looked. These seem like misdemeanors compared with what Trump has been up to, but they did matter to voters, and Clinton ought to have recognized that. Instead, she lived her life as if she were going to be running against Jeb Bush, a candidate as burdened by charges of dynasticism and political profiteering as she was.

.. When she protested that everything she did was done according to “the rules,” what voters appear to have heard was an admission that the entire system was built in a way they didn’t like.