President Perks

Has there ever been a president more in love with the perks of office and less interested in the actual duties? It’s hard to think of anyone who comes close to Barack Obama in that regard. And now that he is well into his second term and losing popularity, President Obama seems to be retreating into a preoccupation with the pleasures and perks of office, leaving the heavy lifting to political hacks.

The read of the day is an article in the Free Beacon by Matthew Continetti, making the case that Obama is now “dialing it in,” interested mostly in having fun. The entire piece is worthwhile, but here are two excerpts.

He knows that his agenda is now limited to executive orders and bureaucratic regulation, and that even these measures are likely to be in the courts for years. He knows that his foreign policy agenda of engagement with the enemies of America will prove controversial and unpopular. He knows his staff has been ducking-and-covering ever since Lois Lerner announced the IRS had targeted Tea Party groups, and that they have been playing defense through Edward Snowden and Syria and and Crimea and the VA and now Bowe Bergdahl. He knows there is a chance that the Republicans will control Congress next January, and he has said, according to Politico, that this “would make his last two years in office unbearable.”

Obama, Politico says, is “giving more thought to his post-presidency than his aides like to suggest.” But there is nothing really for Obama to think about. His ambitions in this office, just like his ambitions at Harvard, in New York, in Chicago, and in the Senate, are now exhausted. America has disappointed him, and it is time to look to the next challenge worthy of Barack Obama. His post-presidency has already begun.

He has decided to relax. He has decided to fill his remaining days getting the most out of his presidential experience. The free travel and lodgings and security escort, the access to good tee times, the ability to get a reservation wherever and whenever he wants, the chance to meet VIPs who will flatter and ingratiate themselves to him—he is enjoying these perks and privileges to the utmost. His motto is not YOLO. It is YOPO: You’re only president once. Why not savor it?

Obama has actually increased the frequency with which he golfs. I suspect he will set a record for presidential links time. And:

[Valerie] Jarrett, who serves the same role in this White House that Colonel House served in Woodrow Wilson’s, is the key figure in Obama’s premature post-presidency. She organizes the dinner parties in Washington and abroad, none of which appear on the president’s official schedule. For all the secrecy, the guest lists are entirely predictable. They include the sort of celebrities one sees on the red carpet at Cannes or on panels at Davos: Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Powell and Warren Buffett, Gayle King and Anna Wintour, the CEO of Apple and the head of the World Bank. Like the liberals who attend them, the parties are demographically diverse but intellectually uniform. Of all the boldfaced names mentioned in Budoff Brown and Epstein’s story, the only one that seems remotely capable of independent thought is, of all people, Bono, who is friendly with George W. Bush and got along with the late Jesse Helms.

A rudderless federal government may be OK in domestic policy, but in foreign affairs it is downright scary.

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