Well, it’s a debate. I mean to the extent that it’s a somewhat hotly discussed issue that has no right or wrong answer because no matter what pundits and people say President Obama will do what he thinks is right. And thusly, the debate over whether it’s okay or unseemly (nobody really applauds it, interestingly enough) that he accept a $400,000 speaking gig from Wall Street powerhouse Cantor Fitzgerald.
Matt Yglesias makes the case that it’s counterproductive and liberals need to raise their ethical game.
The election in France earlier this week shows that the triumph of populist demagogues is far from inevitable. But to beat it, mainstream politicians and institutions need to shape up — not just with better policies, but with the kind of self-sacrificing spirit and moral leadership that successful movements require.That means some people are going to have to start making less money and raising the ethical bar for conduct, rather than leveling down to the worst acts of their predecessors.
The political right is supposed to be pro-business as a matter of ideological commitment. The progressive center is supposed to be empirically minded, challenging business interests where appropriate but granting them free rein at other times.
This approach has a lot of political and substantive merits. But it is invariably subject to the objection: really?
Did you really avoid breaking up the big banks because you thought it would undermine financial stability, or were you on the take? Did you really think a fracking ban would be bad for the environment, or were you on the take? One man’s sophisticated and pragmatic approach to public policy can be the other man’s grab bag of corrupt opportunism.
This came to a fever pitch in the primaries as the taint of all that money on the Clintons was a vote too far for many on the left. (They still should have voted for her against Trump, but the Democratic circular firing squad stupid is strong and I’m feeling very frustrated with what I see on the Twitter lately.) If Obama wants to taint his legacy, which is fairly strong even on the far left (although nobody there really thought he was one of them after he didn’t go after the banksters), he can keep doing things like this and watch the good will erode.
Obama should do himself and the circular firing squad a favor and give the money to charity.
Like Scott Lemieux at Lawyer’s Guns and Money says :
Obama is in a position to set a new precedent for liberal elites, and he should.
‘Cause it’s bad enough right now with women calling all Bernie supporters “Bernie Bros” and screaming that he can’t lead a party that he doesn’t belong to. When the far left starts calling Obama a sell out the Joy L. Williams and Joy Reid’s will go nuts.
Democrats need to be a distinct choice on these issues of ethics, opposite of the GOP’s everything goes in business/greed is good/Jesus wants you to be rich mantra.
I have no problem with Obama making money on speeches. I have a problem with a sitting president illegally enriching himself off the backs of the American people.