News that President Obama pulled in $400,000 for a Wall Street speech triggered an initial wave of criticism, but now a backlash appears to be surfacing in his defense. Trevor Noah is among those stepping up to back the former president, even as a new report suggests he picked up another enormous payday. Here's the latest:
- The New York Post reports that Obama got paid another $400,000 Thursday night when he sat for a 90-minute interview by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in an event sponsored by A&E Networks in Manhattan. The payday hasn't been confirmed.
- During the interview, the Post notes that Obama issued a subtle zinger toward President Trump. Asked how he handled frustrating moments as president, Obama responded, “For starters, by not having a Twitter account.”
- On the Daily Show, Noah said critics need to calm down. "So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards?" Noah asked. "Make that money, Obama." He said critics might instead focus on the lax regulations that allow Wall Street banks to have so much money to dole out in the first place. See the video here.
- At the Root, Michael Harriot sounds a similar theme. Critics complain the big payday feels wrong. Well, "maybe asking a man to work for eight years cleaning up the sloppy mess some white guy made, and then telling him he shouldn’t ask for money, just feels racist."
- Elizabeth Warren was among those criticizing Obama for his Cantor Fitzgerald payday. "I was troubled by that," the Massachusetts senator said on the SiriusXM, per ABC News. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, said "it is unfortunate that President Obama is doing this," when people are so frustrated with Wall Street, per the Hill.
- Aaron Blake ticks off four reasons in the Washington Post why taking the money is a bad idea, including its continuation of a "dubious precedent." He also quotes from Obama's own book on the dangers of special-interest money.
- Michael McGough at the Los Angeles Times has a point-by-point rebuttal of Blake's piece. He concludes that Obama's decision is "tacky" but not immoral.
- Also criticizing the critics, while not exactly defending Obama, is Ed Krayewski at Reason: "The increasingly bipartisan populist rhetoric against Wall Street and corporations in general helps deflect attention from the role of government power in creating the problems in the first place while ensuring that nothing is done to change it."
- An op-ed in the New York Times traces the history of these fat paychecks for former presidents, noting that Harry Truman, who was far from rich, turned down lucrative offers. But it's a different world today, writes Berkeley prof Jerome Karabel, and Obama's decision is not only the new norm but a "reflection of a greater tolerance of rampant inequality."
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