Sen. Elizabeth Warren doubtless wasn’t the only ally of former President Obama who was disappointed in his acceptance of a $400,000 fee from Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald for a speech. Warren, the gifted Wall Street watchdog, made her disappointment clear.
And she’s not going to be the only one. Have the Democrats learned nothing from the damage done to their image by the huge speaking fees collected by former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who were roundly criticized for what appeared to be post-White House hay making? (They did raise a lot of money for a worthy foundation carrying their name.)
Obama had a hard row in the White House, and did a good job bringing the nation back from the economic brink and expanding health care to more than 22 million people through the Affordable Care Act. Does he have the right to earn a living? Of course, but he and his First Lady, Michelle Obama, have signed a book deal reportedly worth $65 million from Random House. And earning prospects for a former president who is only 55 years old are virtually boundless, with board memberships and executive possibilities.
But paid speeches, thanks to the Clintons, have a bad image, and Obama should certainly have been aware of that. The former president, so gifted and so sound in judgment, is entitled to make a mistake. And this time, he made one.