Just three months removed from his eight-year presidency, Barack Obama is experiencing a litany of criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Not due to negative remarks towards a particular person, or making any kind of moral setback. Instead, it is due do his acceptance of an honorarium in the amount of $400,000 for a Wall Street speech. Covering the topic of healthcare, Obama made the decision to speak at the Cantor Fitzgerald firm for the hefty sum. This decision raised a significant level of scrutiny from politicians and political analysts across the board.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has voiced her opposition of the decision, to SiriusXM’s Alter Family Politics.
“I was troubled by that… the influence of money – I describe it as smoke that slithers through Washington,” she said.
Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf also commented.
“Is there an irony here because he spoke incessantly about the income gap and is now earning from those same people he criticized? Yes it is. Should we expect it? Yes, we should because all former presidents do this. He went on the attack against Wall Street and now he’s being fed by those same people he called ‘fat cats.’ It’s more hypocritical than ironic,” according to the NY Post.
Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders was outraged at the decision for Obama to speak at the Wall Street gathering, as reported by Time. He said that it does not look good, and that it is “distasteful.” He further expressed his disapproval while being interviewed on CNN’s This Morning.
“I think at a time when people are so frustrated with the power of Wall Street and the big-money interests, I think it is unfortunate that President Obama is doing this.Wall Street has incredible power, and I would have hoped that the president would not have given a speech like this.”
President Donald Trump even took a jab at former president Obama and his $400,000 Wall Street speech payday, retweeting Elizabeth Warren’s comments on the issue.
The mindset behind Warren, Sanders, and other Democrats is that Wall Street is typically the entity that many on the left heavily criticize during campaigns and rallies. Oftentimes, this is one of the driving forces behind the reason why many Democrats feel that people are on the right are not relatable to the low and middle class. However, when one of their own, particularly the former president of the United States, decides to speak at a Wall Street gathering, it is not an adequate representation of the party’s stance.
Despite the large amount of scrutiny, Obama gladly accepted the big payday. In fact, there was another engagement that he pulled in yet another $400,000 to participate in. According to Independent, the former president met with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin for the A&E Networks at the Pierre Hotel to do a 90-minute speech to advertisers for the cable channel. Reportedly, topics he discussed were him yet driving a car on his own, using a coffee machine at his new home in Washington, D.C., and his overall life as a private citizen.
The element of him now being a private citizen is what many advocates of Obama are using to defend him. Since he is no longer in office, and is a private citizen, his $800,000 income from two speeches is what most people dream of, no matter what political side one decides to camp on.
Overall, defenders feel that it is a smart business move for the former president to engage in, and anticipate more speeches to come. Moreover, since this is not the first time a former president has accepted paid speeches, and most likely will not be the last, many wish the critics would just allow Obama to go on with his life as a private citizen and earn his income away from the office successfully.
[Featured Image By Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images]