Former President Barack Obama, who spoke to the American public frequently about the evils of the corrupt big business interests in America, will take a $400,000 check from big business interests to speak to them.
Before we go any further, let me say that I am perfectly fine with him doing so. The man is a former president, and speaking gigs are part of the retirement plan.
However, there are two points to be made here. First, the slight hypocrisy of him taking corporate interest money after he campaigned and presidented against it for eight years. The second point, however, is way funnier: the kiddos over at Vox are distraught.
Indeed, to not take the money might be a problem for someone in Obama’s position. It would set a precedent.
Obama would be suggesting that for an economically comfortable high-ranking former government official to be out there doing paid speaking gigs would be corrupt, sleazy, or both. He’d be looking down his nose at the other corrupt, sleazy former high-ranking government officials and making enemies.
Which is exactly why he should have turned down the gig.
Matt Yglesias, one of the least clever people at Vox (it’s a tight race, y’all), says that people like Obama should send the message that poor people are at war with the rich, as opposed to letting the Donald Trumps of the world steer the message that white people are at war with minorities.
I’d like to note that both of these wars seem to be as effective as the war on drugs, but I digress.
The contention is that the center-right is playing the zero sum game and the center-left isn’t. Yglesias is using the successes of Justin Trudeau in America’s Hat and Emmanuel Macron in France as proof that leftist populism is still a “viable” thing in the world. And, sure, it may be.
But that doesn’t mean that leftists in the country aren’t playing a zero sum game. The Democrats have boasted that Trump has gotten nothing done (legislatively) in the first 100 days of his term. That may be true, but what have they accomplished? They have made their mark on the Trump presidency by filibustering (and losing) a Supreme Court nomination, refusing to work with the Trump administration, and going out to demagogue against Trump at every turn.
And, they are enjoying fundraising and popularity boosts as a result. They get to go out and shout to a friendly media that Trump is terrible, and the favorability shifts as a result.
So, don’t sit here and tell me that Barack Obama taking nearly half a million dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street is somehow going to prevent the left from playing zero sum politics. That’s just flat out ignoring the situation.