Ah the life of an ex-president seems to be so heavenly.
With all of the pressures leading the free world off of one’s plate, we see images of President Barack Obama lounging on a luxury yacht with the likes of Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Airlines, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities. We occasionally see former president George W Bush biking through the mountains and painting portraits of his former colleagues from other countries.
The life of a former president is filled with paid speeches, writing books, and raising money for their presidential foundations and libraries. With the exception of Jimmy Carter, it’s not filled with arm chair quarterbacking your successor about how bad things are and when President Obama re emerged recently at a public policy forum held at the University of Chicago, many Americans expressed frustration that Obama did not criticize the activities of his successor Donald Trump.
Bill Clinton has stated on more than one occasion that he appreciated the silence that George H.W. Bush gave him when he announced a new policy decision. Obama has said the same thing regarding George W. Bush’s silence and Bush as stated that he appreciated the silence from Bill Clinton when assuming office.
They all have complained when former President Jimmy Carter stated publicly his dissatisfaction with his successors on topics such as taxes, foreign policy, and other issues that he disagreed with the incumbent president on. All of the president’s who came after Carter became publicly angry at his statements that were often contradictory to current US Policy.
By coming out in public, Obama has voluntarily and smartly positioned himself in the exclusive club of elder statesman. In other word’s he has continued to dignify the office of former president and he decided that he is not going to stoop to the level of gutter politics. In other words, Obama has decided to play the long game and it’s a smart one.
Being 55 years old, Obama has many more decades of being a former president and if history is our guide, time always favor former presidents. George W. Bush’s approval ratings which were at historic lows when he left office, have been on the rise ever since. This is mainly because he did not comment on President Obama’s public policy moves.
Obama has a chance to go down in the history books of a Gandhi, Churchill, Roosevelt or De Galle; not because he was the first African-American president and did historic change while he was president – as history is teaching us, yes he did make history by becoming president, but so far, has not been that consequential as president with sweeping policy with the exception of health care reform, but with many years before him he can bend the arc of history by traveling around the world trying to influence policy quietly from the sidelines.
It is clear, that he is already on this path and this is where he has the most credibility and where he can have the most impact for many generations to come.