Obama Making that Paper the American Way

By David Himmel

It’s nice to hear the angry mob of liberals upset over something other than whatever odd blunder the Trump Administration recently teed up. Anything that changes the tune of that tone deaf “Not my president” chant is fine by me. Besides, I think it’s fair to say that while dangerous, Trump’s idiocy has become commonplace and boring. And it’s not that I wish heartbreak on anyone, especially my many wonderful, liberal friends who drank the Kool-Aid long ago, but I can’t help to laugh at their outrage and sadness that former president Barack Obama is going to collect $400,000 to speak to a Wall Street investment bank.

"You folks thought I was a... uh... progressive. Fooled ya!"

"You folks thought I was a... uh... progressive. Fooled ya!"

Yes, there are still his defenders who say that he should absolutely take the money if they’re paying it. Obama, after all, is just following the trend that was set and followed by every former president in modern history of getting paid big bucks to speak. Hell, that’s part of what makes being President of the United States such a sweet gig. Yeah, you have to liquefy a few innocent sandy brown people in far-off lands with bunker busters and heavy artillery, but after all that, you never have to worry about how you’re going to pay for the kids’ college or that lake house in New Buffalo, Mich.

The upset comes from those people who have said that taking money from a Wall Street firm is the wrong thing to do and that Obama shouldn’t accept it. “He’s better than this,” they say. But he’s not. None of this should surprise or shock or offend anyone. Obama is a politician. He’s a man. He is not the progressive Jesus his followers convinced themselves he is.

Hey, I like the guy. I voted for him twice, gladly. I’d have done it a third time if I could’ve. I thought that he mostly did a fine job and at least didn’t totally eviscerate our country and violently peg the unsuspecting People in our sleep. The middle class was screwed over by the longstanding politicians who were there before Obama and will remain there long after. They were screwed by their own party—voting against their own interests because they were convinced by morons and sexual predators that everything wrong was the fault of the black guy living in government housing (har har—shut up). And if you still thank that, a Rosemary Kennedy-style lobotomy will do you some good.

Hang on, hang on, I’ve gone off topic… Where was I? Ah, yes. Obama making that paper.

The moment a president leaves office, he becomes a hot ticket. Friends and even the greatest foes alike claw for an opportunity to be in the same room with him, to shake his hand. And that’s because people love celebrity, especially celebrity that has no real immediate sway over political matters anymore. It’s why we forgave Nixon and why historians still acknowledge that Fillmore ever held the office.

Let’s be clear. Obama is not a progressive. He’s a centrist-liberal. The United States has only had four true progressive presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Carter. In politics, if you ever think that your hero is as pure and good on the inside as you’ve made them to be in your own mind, you are always going to be wrong and forever disappointed.

"Mo' money, mo' problems."

"Mo' money, mo' problems."

Obama, like most humans, is ripe with hypocrisy. He won and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize before doing much of anything really worthy. He talked a lot about peace, sure. And he was a charming fellow with a lot of political potential to quell the world’s wars. But by that standard, I should get the prize, too. And if awarded it, I promise that I won’t take a job that requires me to order people to kill other people.

Other presidents have won the prize. Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, Wilson in 1920—both of them while in office just like Obama. The difference is that Wilson had helped end the first World War and established the League of Nations, and Roosevelt helped end the Russo-Japanese War. Obama was in office less than a year when it was announced. We were still in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had yet to end any wars and hadn’t begun to ramp up drone strikes that claimed the lives of a fair handful of civilians. It was before his leadership skills failed to help reduce gun violence in this country. Instead, quite the opposite happened. Though not his fault, it was on his watch. Carter won the award in 2002, twenty-one years after leaving office and after twenty-one years of doing real work to establish peace and help humanity. Obama’s award was premature, if worthy at all, and it is part of the dogma that convinces people that Obama is absolute progressive purity.

Don't be so bothered by his first big speaking payday. We don’t know what he’s going to do with the money. Build his library? Invest in Chicago Public Schools? Buy Michelle a shitload of sleeveless dresses? Donate it to the Carter Center? And who the hell knows what he’ll say in this speech. Maybe he’s bawl the fat cat investors out. You know, tell them off for taking the bailout money he gave them.

Don’t give the guy more credit than he deserves. Don’t make the same mistake that the Nobel Committee made. He’s only just getting started doing exactly what any centrist-liberal, retired president would do. It’s the American Way.