SIO38: Obama’s Unfortunate Payday

When I saw the news of Obama’s $400k paycheck for a speech to a Wall St bank, I posted this reaction on Facebook. The slew of comments that resulted was quite surprising to me. In my view, a lot of liberals are doing some logical backflips to justify Obama’s payday, or to obfuscate and divert attention away from it. I think these gymnastics are unbecoming of skeptical people. I hope to add a little nuance to this black and white thinking!

White Liberals BS clickbait, Obama Record Setting Book Deal, Obamas Could Earn $200 Million, Obama $2 Million Donation

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4 Replies to “SIO38: Obama’s Unfortunate Payday”

  1. I posted something similar on facebook this afternoon, but as far as I understand it, while it may not be valid to say the critique of president Obama is motivated by race, as the critique occurs in the context of a racist society, it is inevitably informed by race. Mostly, I mean to say there is a discussion to be had about the racial aspect of the way people relate to president Obama, what they expect of him, and what they perceive the relationship between themselves and a black president to be, and that discussion is more than petty liberal infighting.

    That said, it sounds like the article was clickbait exploiting the idea of racism and liberal infighting to get clicks, so I hope I don’t come off as defending that.

    To the point about false-equivalency in facebook posts about chemical weapons, I agree that cops using pepper-spray is nowhere near as troubling as the chemical weapons used in Syria, however, the lead in our drinking water (not just in Flint, but both documented and undocumented in cities across the nation), the effects of fracking (flammable water, earthquakes in Oklahoma, etc), the elimination of environmental protections, and the (potential) repeal of federally mandated health insurance, all in the name of boosting profits for wealthy business people, seems less hyperbolic.

  2. This is still America (for a while yet) and the Dollar is still our Lord. The only people qualified to comment on Obama’s speaker’s fees are those who have actually turned down $400,000 at any time under any circumstances. I’ll bet that in this country there are precisely none.

    Obama could just say he is donating his Wall Street speaker’s fees to some charity and that would satisfy you? That’s exactly what Trump would do. That’s exactly what Trump has done in the past. He’s claimed charitable contributions and promised charitable contributions that never happened. Then, in the next 24-minute news cycle, it’s all forgotten and we’re off on something else.

    It would be entertaining to observe the gyrations that someone critical of Obama accepting money from a Wall Street company would go through to justify accepting the money if it were offered to them. Because that is exactly what they would do: they would dance a very elaborate Dance of Justification, sort of like a peacock’s mating dance, to explain to themselves and everybody else why it was a crime against humanity for Obama to accept the money, but how it is actually in humanity’s best interest for them to accept it. That’s how it always goes, because the Dollar IS our Lord! Amen.

  3. What is the legacy that Obama is tarnishing? Obama is a corporate, pro business democrat.

    Let’s not saint Obama as something he isn’t the way the right sainted Reagan.

    If you want to pull money out of politics support Justice Democrats. Don’t act like Obama is something he was not.

  4. Also, a possibly relevant quote from the Audacity of Hope:

    “Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means — law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. As a rule, they were smart, interesting people, knowledgeable about public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing of their opinions in exchange for their checks. But they reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class: the top 1 percent or so of the income scale that can afford to write a $2,000 check to a political candidate. They believed in the free market and an educational meritocracy; they found it hard to imagine that there might be any social ill that could not be cured by a high SAT score. They had no patience with protectionism, found unions troublesome, and were not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives were upended by the movements of global capital. Most were adamantly prochoice and antigun and were vaguely suspicious of deep religious sentiment.

    And although my own worldview and theirs corresponded in many ways — I had gone to the same schools, after all, had read the same books, and worried about my kids in many of the same ways — I found myself avoiding certain topics during conversations with them, papering over possible differences, anticipating their expectations. On core issues I was candid; I had no problem telling well-heeled supporters that the tax cuts they’d received from George Bush should be reversed. Whenever I could, I would try to share with them some of the perspectives I was hearing from other portions of the electorate: the legitimate role of faith in politics, say, or the deep cultural meaning of guns in rural parts of the state.

    Still, I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population — that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve. And in one fashion or another, I suspect this is true for every senator: The longer you are a senator, the narrower the scope of your interactions. You may fight it, with town hall meetings and listening tours and stops by the old neighborhood. But your schedule dictates that you move in a different orbit from most of the people you represent.

    And perhaps as the next race approaches, a voice within tells you that you don’t want to have to go through all the misery of raising all that money in small increments all over again. You realize that you no longer have the cachet you did as the upstart, the fresh face; you haven’t changed Washington, and you’ve made a lot of people unhappy with difficult votes. The path of least resistance — of fund-raisers organized by the special interests, the corporate PACs, and the top lobbying shops — starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes. The problems of ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought.”

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