It would be nice to imagine President Barack Obama returning to the quiet life of a civilian after the inauguration ceremony on Friday. While we know that Obama will be staying in Washington, D.C. for the next year or two, he has spoken of his desire to follow his predecessor – George W. Bush – into a life of relative obscurity. A life where he will work on his book, do a few speeches, get his presidential library going, and generally stay out of the public spotlight.
But can we really expect Obama to do any of that?
In one of his first post-election interviews, Obama told the New Yorker that his plans for civilian life changed when Donald Trump won.
“I think that if Hillary Clinton had won the election, then I’d just turn over the keys,” Obama said. “We’d make sure the briefing books were in order and out we go. I think now I have some responsibility to at least offer my counsel to those who will continue to be elected officials about how the DNC can help rebuild, how state parties and progressive organizations can work together.”
Obama may have lost some of his “personality cult” to Trump and some of his ideological cult to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but he’s still leaving office with positive poll numbers on the left. Certainly, he’s a hell of a lot more popular than Hillary Clinton. With an extraordinary power vacuum at the top of the Democratic Party, Obama will not be able to resist maintaining his position as the nominal face of liberal America.
That he will be replaced by one of his loudest and most consistent critics only cements Obama’s post-presidency plans. You really think he’s going to sit quietly in his Washington mansion while Trump and the GOP puts illegal immigration to an end? That he’s going to meekly work on his memoirs while Trump signs legislation destroying the Affordable Care Act? That he’s going to be silent while Trump dismantles eight years of horrible policy? No way. If we get a week free from Obama’s mouth, it will be a miracle.
But you know what, that’s fine. The more Obama is out there defending his legacy, the more Republicans can paint a clear and precise contrast. You want to be on TV when Obamacare swirls down the drain? Great! Take credit for it! Get in front of a microphone and defend your economic policies in two years when Trump has doubled GDP growth rates.
The last eight years of failure shall not be forgotten, so the architect of that failure should not be, either.