by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at the Weekly Standard highlight a post-presidential predilection that afflicts just one party.
What is it about former Democratic presidents that they can’t leave the arena? They leave, then come back, then go quiet for a while, and just when you think you’ve gotten rid of them they spring back into the headlines again. Jimmy Carter set the example here. For nearly four decades the man’s been jetting around the world as though his presidency never ended—meeting with foreign leaders and dictators, offering his services as an election monitor in places where fair elections were certain not to happen, making critical and sometimes acerbic comments about his successors and their policies, insinuating himself into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in unfailingly baleful ways, accepting international awards, and generally making a nuisance of himself. …
… We learned last week that Obama and his wife, Michelle, are in the final stages of negotiations with Netflix to produce one or more shows that will allow him to retain his influence on global affairs. …
… The New York Times reports that the Obamas’ media venture may not be the apolitical project we would prefer. “In one possible show idea,” the Times reports, “Mr. Obama could moderate conversations on topics that dominated his presidency—health care, voting rights, immigration, foreign policy, climate change—and that have continued to divide a polarized American electorate during President Trump’s time in office. Another program could feature Mrs. Obama on topics, like nutrition, that she championed in the White House.”
If we may be forgiven for saying so, these ideas don’t sound like ratings sensations. They sound like PBS’s Washington Week, only less exciting. The very thought of listening to Obama drone on about climate change or health care is itself a kind of soporific.
The point isn’t that we don’t want to hear Obama anymore—okay, maybe that is the point. We watched and listened to him for eight solid years, and we don’t want to think about him anymore.
Thanks, Jimmy Carter, for setting the example.