Obama legacy

On Leaving the White House

Michelle Obama hit the paid-speaking circuit yesterday and spoke about leaving the White House, the Washington Post reports.

“She shared a story about her emotional final day at the White House. Her daughters were in tears as they said goodbye to the staff, and she felt herself choke up, too — but she resolved to keep her emotions hidden before the Inauguration Day cameras.”

Said Obama: “I didn’t want to have tears in my eyes because people would swear I was crying because of the new president.”

How Presidents Handle Frustrating Moments

Former President Obama “made another $400,000 on Thursday when he appeared at the A&E Networks advertising upfront at The Pierre Hotel. He was interviewed over 90 minutes at the Midtown Manhattan event by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in front of the cable network’s advertisers,” the New York Post reports.

“Goodwin asked Obama how, while president, he handled frustrating moments. She mentioned Lincoln would write angry letters and then put them in a desk and not mail them.”

Responded Obama: “For starters, by not having a Twitter account.”

Obama Will Be Paid $400K for Speech

Former President Barack Obama will be paid $400,000 to speak at Cantor Fitzgerald’s healthcare conference this September, the Washington Examiner reports.

Matthew Yglesias: “That’s so much cash, for so little work, that it would be extraordinarily difficult for anyone to turn it down… Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent… Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.”

Obama Returns to Public Life Next Week

New York Times: “Barack Obama’s extended post-presidential vacation is about to end. After spending weeks in French Polynesia — including time on the yacht of the movie mogul David Geffen along with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey — Mr. Obama will return to Chicago on Monday for his first public event as a former president.”

“His self-imposed silence since Inauguration Day will end with a series of events over the next four weeks. A Monday town hall-style meeting with students at the University of Chicago will be followed by an awards ceremony in Boston; a series of public remarks as well as private paid speeches in the United States and Europe; and an appearance at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

How to Mock Trump on Instagram

Politico: “Former White House photographer Pete Souza is a case study in how a former Obama staffer can throw shade at Donald Trump without being too direct. For the past few months, Souza has used his personal Instagram account to post photos from the Obama administration that seem, or he admits are, deliberately timed to a make a point about whatever Trump story has overtaken the news cycle.”

How Obama Is Spending His Post-Presidency

Washington Post: “Both he and the former first lady have entertained friends in their Kalorama home, newly redecorated to suit their modern style; and both frequently go into in their new West End office space. About 15 staffers work there, with the framed flag that the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden presented to the former president displayed in the entryway. One floor of the new office houses aides, including Jarrett, who are helping to build Obama’s foundation, which is headquartered in Chicago.”

“His first major speech as a private citizen will come in May, where he will be awarded a Medal of Courage as part of a celebration of President John F. Kennedy’s centennial.”

Lawmaker Says Obama Running a Shadow Government

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) accused former President Obama of staying in Washington solely to run a “shadow government” to undermine the GOP agenda, the AP reports.

A video clip shows Kelly saying that Obama remained in Washington not so his daughter could finish high school but for “one purpose only: to run the shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda.”

How Obama Let a Grassroots Machine Die

The New Republic: “Instead of mobilizing his unprecedented grassroots machine to pressure obstructionist lawmakers, support state and local candidates who shared his vision, and counter the Tea Party, Obama mothballed his campaign operation, bottling it up inside the Democratic National Committee. It was the seminal mistake of his presidency—one that set the tone for the next eight years of dashed hopes, and helped pave the way for Donald Trump to harness the pent-up demand for change Obama had unleashed.”

“The question of why—why the president and his team failed to activate the most powerful political weapon in their arsenal—has long been one of the great mysteries of the Obama era. Now, thanks to previously unpublished emails and memos obtained by the New Republic—some from the John Podesta archive released by WikiLeaks, and others made available by Obama insiders—it’s possible for the first time to see the full contours of why Movement 2.0 failed, and what could have been.”

Trump Advisers Push Him to Purge Obama Appointees

“Advisers to President Donald Trump are urging him to purge the government of former President Barack Obama’s political appointees and quickly install more people who are loyal to him, amid a cascade of damaging stories that have put his nascent administration in seemingly constant crisis-control mode,” Politico reports.

“A number of his advisers believe Obama officials are behind the leaks and are seeking to undermine his presidency.”

Blagojevich’s Daughter Unloads on Obama

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 20-year-old daughter wrote an angry open letter to former President Barack Obama, saying she lost respect for him after he declined to commute her father’s 14-year federal prison sentence before he left office, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Said Amy Blagojevich:”Everyone seems to be mourning your exit from office. I’m glad you’re gone. I’m not delusional — you’re not a saint. You were a mediocre president with unoriginal ideas.”

She added: “I thought you would finally right this wrong. You didn’t have to pardon him, only commute the sentence. You just had to let him come home. You didn’t. You released others, like Chelsea Manning or FALN terrorists, who actually committed reprehensible crimes, but you failed to release an innocent man.”

Obama and Biden Had Secret Signals

Jonathan Alter: “But sometimes, their most important communication was unspoken. Obama and Biden worked in wordless tandem in the Situation Room, where Biden served as what Obama told me he called ‘my hidden proxy.’ By pre-arrangement familiar to fans of buddy cop movies, Biden posed tough questions and offered provocative ideas that Obama wanted discussed but preferred not to raise himself, for fear of tilting the debate. (If the president tips his hand, subordinates tend to tailor their arguments to that position to win favor.) Biden took the lead this way dozens of times, most memorably on debates over Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“Obama told me that he thought the synchronized approach gave high-level policy discussions ‘more intellectual rigor’ and let him stay above the fray. Biden remembered Defense Secretary Leon Panetta theorizing that every time Obama leaned back in his chair in the Situation Room, it was a quiet cue for the vice president to do his thing. Biden was amused that their gambit had been discovered: ‘I told Leon he was correct.'”