Former president Barack Obama has been spending the time since he left office on vacation, getting some well deserved rest and relaxation and working on his memoirs. Sadly, that time is coming to an end, and Barack Obama is getting ready to return to the public eye.
His first venture back into the public life will occur with a town hall meeting at the University of Chicago at the Logan Center for the Arts. President Obama used to teach constitutional law at the university, and his family lives in nearby Kenwood, making this first public appearance a homecoming of sorts.
Chicago was also where President Obama made his farewell address in January, marking a complete circle for his political career, which began there.
The town hall meeting is not open to the public, but instead was opened to students and faculty from nearby universities. According to the Chicago Tribune, tickets were given to Harold Washington College, Malcolm X College, Kennedy King College, Columbia College, Chicago State University, University of Illinois, Roosevelt University, Kenwood Academy High School, Northwestern University, DePaul University, and Loyola University.
The attendees to this first event only serve to cement what the former president has often said about his post-presidential aspirations. He wants to work with the next generation of the country’s leaders. An advisor to Obama said that the event was part of his post-presidency goals.
“[Obama wants] to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world.”
After this event, Barack Obama will travel to Boston, Massachusetts, to accept the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. After that, he has plans to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Much has been made of the timing of President Obama’s reentry into the public eye. The town hall comes just days before April 29, 2017, the 100th day of President Donald Trump’s administration. Additionally, when Obama is due to meet with Chancellor Merkel, President Trump will be in Belgium attending a NATO summit. This summit will also mark Trump’s first overseas trip.
However, people close to Barack Obama dismiss this, as they say that Obama does not want to distract or detract from the multiple movements around the country dedicated to countering Trump policies that the left finds abhorrent. A source close to Obama said that it’s not in anyone’s interest for the former president to narrate the current administration or try to become the face of the resistance.
“He [Obama] is acutely aware that when he speaks, he sucks up all the oxygen, and that suppresses the next generation of leaders from rising.”
That isn’t to say that Barack is above making commentary on policies by the current administration. He has defended the Affordable Care Act, dubbed “ObamaCare” by the Republicans, and praised local and national protests against the executive orders that amounted to a travel ban. The former president is simply committed to the ideal that there is only one president at a time.
Barack Obama will also be giving several paid speeches to private organizations. His aides have already said that the former president will not make any criticisms about the current administration. Democrats are well aware that any remarks that could be interpreted as an attack would only give President Trump fuel for his rhetoric. Additionally, criticism from Obama would be seen as offensive to Trump’s core supporters, energizing them at a time when polls show the president is suffering from a low approval rating.
Obama’s speeches will be focusing on broader issues and things that affect more than just the United States. These topics include global health, the need for civic engagement in communities, and his passion project, developing the next generation of leaders in America.
Staying out of the political infighting that has consumed Washington, D.C., currently is also smart, politically. By keeping above the rancor, Obama lends much more credibility to his opinion. When he chooses to endorse candidates in the important upcoming 2018 Senatorial and House of Representatives race, his voice will be taken that much more seriously.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]