Obama: Cashing in on Wall Street
Oh, how the mighty have fallen, said Kristin Tate in TheHill.com. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama found it politically useful to demonize Wall Street. “I did not run for office,” the haughty then candidate claimed, “to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers.” But just months after leaving the White House, the Left’s beloved hero has agreed to take a $400,000 check from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald for a one-hour speech this fall—the first of many such paid speeches, his aides indicate. Is this the same man who crusaded against inequality? said Jill Abramson in TheGuardian.com. Since leaving office, he’s been vacationing with the “Billionaires’ Club” in the British Virgin Islands and French Polynesia. Now he’s decided to supplement his mind-blowing $65 million book deal by “buckraking on Wall Street.” We expected better from you, Barack.
So the former president wants to make a little money, said Issac Bailey in The Charlotte Observer. Don’t forget, Obama “bypassed riches as the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review” and chose to devote himself to years of public service instead. Now, as a private citizen, he has every right to earn income from his considerable talents. Nor does accepting a speaking fee from Wall Street “inherently compromise your integrity,” said Daniel Gross in Slate.com. Unlike Hillary Clinton—who made lucrative Goldman Sachs speeches before running for president—Obama is “done with electoral politics” and can’t bestow favors on Cantor Fitzgerald. And as president, Obama was hardly too cozy with Wall Street, signing “the most far-reaching financial reform legislation since the New Deal.” A paid speech or two shouldn’t “irreparably poison” that admirable legacy.
This isn’t just about Obama’s legacy, said Josh Barro in BusinessInsider.com. The political movement he’s championed is in big trouble. A new Washington Post- ABC News poll has found that 67 percent of Americans believe the Democratic Party “is out of touch with the concerns of most Americans.” Donald Trump is president largely because of the perception that the Democrats have become a self-dealing party of wealthy coastal elites. So if Obama truly does care about progressive values, he should make a personal sacrifice and abstain from buckraking, especially on Wall Street. As the man himself once said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”