BYH, never just believe internet quotes from famous people, but check multiple sources to confirm it. I think I read on...

Dionne: Obama may not go quietly into retirement


Monday, January 9, 2017

Will Donald Trump deprive President Obama of what we have come to think of as a normal post-presidency, the relatively serene life of reflection, writing, philanthropy and high-minded speeches to friendly audiences?

In recent decades, we have become accustomed to the idea of ex-presidents who leave political combat behind. They might occasionally speak out on behalf of their party but with some exceptions they usually avoided trying to influence policy.

But former presidents have not always pulled back from politics. John Quincy Adams embarked on a nearly 17-year stint in the House of Representatives where he was one of the country's most eloquent agitators against slavery and for Indian rights. Martin Van Buren and Theodore Roosevelt both left the White House only to seek the presidency again on third-party tickets — Van Buren in 1848, TR in 1912.

It's already clear that Obama, leaving office at a young 55, intends to pursue something more than the quiet life. He will lay down some preliminary markers on policy next week in a farewell address. He has signaled that he wants to energize a new generation of Democrats and help rebuild a party that he will leave in less than optimal shape. Democrats control neither the House nor the Senate and have seen their share of governorships and state legislative seats decimated.

He is already lined up to work with Eric Holder, his former attorney general, to help Democrats in gubernatorial and legislative races. Their goal is to fight Republican gerrymanders by influencing the drawing of congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census. And it would be good to see Obama visit Appalachia and the old factory towns and cities where Trump did well to connect with white working-class voters who have soured on progressive politics.

But Obama could be pushed toward a larger role if Trump proves to be as profound a threat as his opponents fear. It may fall to the president of hope and change to become the national spokesman for opposition and even resistance on civil liberties, civil rights, press freedom, the rights of immigrants and religious minorities, and the United States' standing in the world.

A largely offstage but lively debate is already unfolding over Obama's coming role. In one view, Obama should recede and allow new voices in his party to take the lead. The Democrats' path back to power, this argument goes, will best be blazed by a younger generation that can declare its independence from the politics of the past — exactly what Obama himself did in 2008. A related argument sees Obama as inciting a negative reaction if he becomes too vocal, too quickly. 

But these qualms might be most useful as a guide to how and when Obama should engage. In the unlikely event that Trump governs in a more moderate way, Obama's activism might not be necessary. And even if Obama's voice is needed to rally dissent, it would be a mistake for him to jump into the debate too quickly. His witness should be seen as an emergency measure, the actions of a leader who could not sit by while his country was in peril.

Obama can take risks in confronting Trump that more conventional politicians, with their futures ahead of them, might not. He has the capacity to seize the country's attention on the issues that matter. Here, the accustomed behavior of ex-presidents could work in Obama's favor. His fellow citizens would see him as speaking out reluctantly and despite his desire to move on to a new phase in his life.

He would have to calibrate his interventions. He doesn't want to become a daily commentator on all things political. But his popularity as he departs and the record he leaves behind on job creation and growth give him added credibility with a broad swath of Americans.

My hunch is that Obama would prefer to hang back from politics. My expectation is that Trump will not give him that option.

E.J. Dionne is a columnist for the Washington Post.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

May 20, 2018


“God bless America!" I exclaimed to nobody, as the dog and cat watching the Red Sox game with me were napping.

Pitcher Hector Velazquez had induced a timely double play, ending an Orioles scoring threat. Short to second to first; that is, Tzu-Wei Lin (Taiwan) to Brock Holt (Texas) to…

Gene Lyons

May 19, 2018

When the phone rings at 2 a.m. it’s a pretty safe bet there isn’t good news, as Bill found out that December in 1960. The agent on the other end said, “Dr. Friday, I need to see you right away.” No, it couldn’t wait until the next morning. UNC President Bill Friday put…

Tom Campbell.jpg

May 19, 2018

A CNN poll last week showed that most Americans think Barack Obama was a better president than Donald Trump has been. The margin was huge: 19 percentage points.

Trump supporters will yell "fake news," but they'll be wrong. Respondents to the same survey thought Hillary Clinton would have been a…

albert hunt

May 18, 2018

North Korea's recent temper tantrum over U.S.-South Korean military exercises and its threat to pull out of its upcoming summit with President Trump are signs that Trump's North Korea strategy is working.

Over the past several months, Trump has boxed in Kim Jong Un. First, he ramped up economic…


May 18, 2018

If you ask people what caused the opioid crisis ravaging our country, you'll no doubt hear that doctors are to blame for handing out painkiller prescriptions too liberally. That narrative makes sense: Over the past few decades, doctors have massively increased the amount of opioid prescriptions…

Robert Gebelhoff

May 18, 2018

The most offensive and corrosive idea in our politics today is that some Americans are more "real" than others. Don't you dare buy it.

Republicans are cynically peddling this un-American conceit. "Real Americans" elected and continue to support President Trump, they claim, in defiance of snooty…

Eugene Robinson

May 17, 2018

A young friend of ours who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 waved a big caution flag recently about the fall elections. The same complacency that doomed Clinton is starting to afflict Democrats again, she warns. Too many party operatives are convinced that a "blue wave" will sweep the Democrats…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

May 17, 2018

To understand the sorry state of federal public corruption law and its present inability to punish even the most egregious influencepeddling, consider a hypothetical scenario involving President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Cohen was reportedly paid several million dollars over the past…


May 17, 2018

I speak on behalf of the Slave Holding me, when I say, what I believe she would say, if she was still alive, or want me to say on her behalf, which is this: that the Statues of the Confederate Civil War Soldiers, should remain UP; but with one caveat.

It is said that .."one who does not remember…

May 16, 2018

Scott Pruitt, the embattled director of the Environmental Protection Agency, still has his job in part because the White House doesn't think it can get anyone it would want to replace him confirmed by the Senate. Gina Haspel's nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency is hanging…

277 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 28
        Next Page»   Last Page»