Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Barack Obama, buck raker: In Crisis America Might Need Obama Again Our view USA Today
USA TODAY/Edit Board
Former president Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 for an upcoming Wall Street speech certainly has been noticed by partisans on the left and right. Liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, said she was "troubled," while Fox Business used it to call Obama “Wall Street’s newest fat cat.”
But should the rest of America care? In ordinary times, Obama’s decision to cash in wouldn’t be that comment-worthy. He has led a life of public service paying well below what he could have made in corporate law or as a business executive. Now, with bills to pay and girls to put through college, he wants to play a little financial catch-up. Most presidents since Gerald Ford have opted to make a quick buck in ways that aren't available to mere mortals.
But these are not normal times. In a little over 100 days, President Trump has mired his administration in a Russian influence scandal, broken new ground in peddling falsehoods, offered White House posts to shady characters, brought the nation closer to war with North Korea, threatened to sabotage trade relations with America’s two closest neighbors, displayed a general impatience for complex issues, allowed his White House to descend into petty infighting, and set a record for time spent on the golf course. Oh, and he informed the president of China that he was firing missiles at Syria "in lieu of after-dinner entertainment."
It doesn’t take much imagination to see an understaffed administration with erratic, divided leadership lurching into a political crisis, or something worse.
If that moment comes, America might find it needs Obama as a voice of reason.