I don't know exactly where Barack Obama and his family are as of this writing, but I really do hope he's enjoying himself.
Being president is a terrible-sounding job. If it were offered to me tomorrow I would not accept it. And so the impulse to spend one's first six or so months out of office visiting estates in Palm Beach, country clubs in Oahu, private islands owned by slightly dotty billionaires and deceased Academy Award-winning actors, and $2,000-a-night resorts in Bali is totally understandable. (All of this is assuming one has written enough bestselling memoirs or given the requisite number of paid speeches on Wall Street to afford what one American poet memorably termed "a license to chill.")
I have a hard time making sense of the criticism Obama is receiving from the left about things like his recent stint at a no-doubt delightful "restored medieval hamlet with five villas and 22 bedrooms that can only be rented for a three-day minimum, in its entirety." To accuse him of hypocrisy after the fact because he is unashamed of being rich, of selling out to the 1 percent just because he indulged in a "kitesurf vs. foilboard learning contest" with Richard Branson, one would have to be operating under the assumption that our 44th president was ever a man of the left in the first place.
This is nonsense. If anything, the case could be made that Barack Obama, the man who punted on single payer in favor of passing the Heritage Foundation's health-care plan, who decided to fight a war in Libya because Wall Street's favorite ex-senator convinced him to, who set a record for deportations, who tried to railroad American workers into another job-killing trade deal, who reluctantly endorsed same-sex marriage, albeit after the issue was already out of his hands, was more right wing than all three of his immediate predecessors. You might even say that Obama was our first libertarian president. Of course he's palling around with gazillionaires.
But there is another, more important reason why I am totally sanguine about the prospect of a never-ending post-presidential world tour of ultra-exclusive luxury hotels and bespoke extreme rafting trips for Obama and his family.
Frankly speaking, I never want to hear his voice again.
Many critics of his recent trips have compared his conduct out of office unfavorably with that of Jimmy Carter, a man who was given only four years to inflict his particular brand of syrupy tedium on the nation while quietly setting the stage for the Reagan Revolution, but who has now spent something like four decades admonishing not only Americans but all the people of the world — Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, as he might put it — in his futile hectoring Sunday school teacher voice on issues ranging from Israel to assault weapons to same-sex marriage to North Korea. It's not even that he's wrong about everything: It's just that he's so insufferable that you don't want him to be right.
Many Americans have always felt the same way about Obama. His cool young teacher brand of omnidirectional uplift, his unhesitatingly smarmy optimism, his smug insistence that everyone who has ever disagreed with him is a cynical meanie-head, his obsession with getting things done at all costs and without regard for the consequences — who could miss any of this? Which is why I do not exactly relish 40 or so years of books and PBS specials and late-night TV appearances à la Carter.
So please, Mr. President, I am begging you: Do not follow your illustrious predecessor's example. Stop reading the papers. Ignore world affairs. Consider deleting your Twitter account. Don't write any more memoirs. See more of the world.
Think about it. There are so many more exotic locations to visit and vapid rich people to befriend and high-end consumables to enjoy. You could climb Mt. Everest with Emma Watson! You could go on an eco-friendly Amazon jungle learning cruise with George Takei and Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or a private tasting tour of Bordeaux with Anthony Bourdain and a handful of retired New York Times wine critics! You could enjoy pearl-encrusted crème brûlée made from the organic milk of million-dollar Holstein cows with diamond-studded silver spoons on the rooftops of Dubai with the Ghostbusters cast member of your choice! You could eat champagne-infused astronaut ice cream with Elon Musk on the red cliffs of Mars as the blue sun melts away in the infinite-seeming distance like the tears of the last unicorn! You could even take up smoking again.
The options are unlimited, but the time isn't. Don't slow down. You only live once.