He’s been out of the White House for about 100 days and in that time former President Barack Obama has largely stayed out of the spotlight. But there has been a recent debate over his, and Michelle’s big payday related to corporate speaking gigs and book deals.
Many of the same issues that plagued Hillary Clinton during her campaign now seem to have trickled down to the Obama’s and the consequences could be huge. Barack for his part will be speaking to a group of investment bankers for a fee of around $400,000 this summer, nearly double the amount Hillary asked.
A book deal which will net the Obama’s some $65 million seems more contentious. But the concerns about the high fees, or some of Barack’s quotes on the campaign trail against Wall Street, are actually a smaller issue here. The bigger concern should be that of Michelle Obama and any future political career she may hope to have.
Despite being less controversial than her husband, and far more well liked across middle America, Michelle enters dangerous waters by accepting and profiting from these sorts of speeches. That’s not to say she shouldn’t, but these sorts of speeches and the money involved will do a lot to alienate the Democratic base.
New faces of the party like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have criticized the couple’s moves that appear to show them getting cozy with Wall Street.
So what’s the takeaway here?
This move by Michelle Obama seems to make something very clear; either her team isn’t worried about the negative perceptions associated with Wall Street, or she has no plans to run for public office. Underestimating the public distaste for Wall Street is a major mistake, one that arguably lost Mrs. Clinton the election last November. And the second option, that she has no plans to run, similarly leaves the once strong Democratic party without much direction or a “young” leader to move the party forward.
Michelle escaped most of the politics, seemed to be positioned for a future Presidential bid, and could do a lot to energize her party. But a move like this puts a major stain on any future she hopes to have in public office.