Obama legacy

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.'”

The Next JFK

Politico: “Obama’s enduring legacy will be as a cultural symbol, the first African-American president who represented a current of social change in the country and reflected the values and attitudes of the progressive elite. He will be remembered—and revered—by his admirers as his generation’s JFK. Lasting substantive achievements are besides the point when ascending to this iconic status.”

“The standards here are largely stylistic. And Obama checks nearly every box: He was a young president; a photogenic man with a good-looking family; a symbol of generational change; an orator given to flights of inspiring rhetoric; if not a wit exactly, a facile talker with a taste for mocking the other side.”

Clinton’s Loss Means Obama Will Stay Involved

Jason Zengerle: “In the weeks since the election, this Plan B has been taking shape, as Obama has consulted with a range of people, from current and former advisers to historians, about how he should conduct himself in his post-presidency, doing much of his thinking during long days on the golf course throughout his Hawaiian vacation in December.”

“While it’s clear that Obama will have to remain more immersed in politics than he’d planned, it remains a mystery what that role will now look like. Certainly he’ll be asked to help rebuild the Democratic Party. Already, Obama has been drawn into the jockeying among candidates vying to lead the Democratic National Committee—a process he expected to sit out.”

Said one Obama aide: “Nobody wants to know what the Clintons think—they’re totally checked out. It’s falling on us just by default.”

Obama Has Always Played the Long Game

Todd Purdum: “It is not too much to say that Obama did for decency in the presidency what only the best of his predecessors have ever done: He and his wife and daughters set an example for good behavior that even many of his political adversaries were forced to concede. He is leaving office seemingly confident that the country that elected him against the historical odds can’t really go wrong, for long.”

“If that promise seems a little less plausible—maybe even a good deal less—than it did when he took the oath of office eight years ago, that’s a short term setback he seems willing to risk. From the moment he first set out on his improbable odyssey, Barack Obama has always played the long game.”

The Most Successful Democrat Since FDR

David Leonhardt: “Obama leaves office as the most successful Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt. His effect on the ‘trajectory of America,’ to use his benchmark, was certainly smaller than Roosevelt’s, but is in the same league as Reagan’s. Obama did more while in office, while Reagan better protected his policy changes, thanks to Republican gains in state and congressional elections — and the victory of his chosen successor.”

“When future historians look back on today, they’re likely to come to a similar conclusion. They are also likely to believe that Obama’s vision of America was far superior to Trump’s. After all, a vast majority of Americans born in the last few decades share Obama’s vision. And history is ultimately written by the young.”

Books Helped Obama Survive the White House

“Not since Lincoln has there been a president fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama,” the New York Times reports.

“Last Friday, seven days before his departure from the White House, Mr. Obama sat down in the Oval Office and talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life — from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when ‘these worlds that were portable’ provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.”

“During his eight years in the White House — in a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship and knee-jerk reactions — books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.”