Former President Barack Obama seems to believe he still speaks for the United States. It’s off-putting, could possibly undermine foreign policy, and it’s time he knocked it off.
While other former presidents return to their hometown, write their memoir, oversee construction of their library, and leave the running of the government to their successor, Obama does it differently.
He chose to remain in Washington, D.C., the seat of federal power, rather than go back to either Chicago or Hawaii.
Although he came out with a book titled, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” it’s hardly a memoir — it’s more of a collection of photographs with his own descriptions so he could claim authorship.
He’s not working on his presidential library, because there isn’t one. He chose instead to establish an Obama Presidential Center, described as “a place where young people from around the world can meet,” a sort of glorified Starbucks. The presidential papers will be housed elsewhere.
But what’s particularly galling, Obama doesn’t appear to have left the affairs of state to his successor. He instead galivants around the globe meeting heads of state, sometimes either immediately before or after Trump does. What’s that all about?
The most recent example was last week, when Obama flew to Germany for a closed-door meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel for what the press described as a “routine private encounter with a former international peer.”
This isn’t the first time the former president met the German chancellor. He did so three months after ostensibly handing the reins of power to President Donald Trump. Obama arrived in Berlin on the very day that Trump met with NATO leaders in Brussels. The reason was reportedly to engage in a discussion on democracy. Seriously?
While Obama was discussing democracy with Merkel, Trump was in Brussels telling Germany, and other NATO member nations, to start paying their fair share of defense spending.
During both Obama-Merkel meetings, Great Britain was working on a framework to exit the European Union, something to which Merkel is adamantly opposed. During the second meeting, Trump was also working out trade agreements with the UK in anticipation of its departure from the EU.
As 2017 was coming to a close, Obama met with the leaders of India and China. His supporters back home thought nothing of it.
"Barack Obama is the great explainer to the rest of the world of what the heck is going on in America," said Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University presidential historian. America needs explaining now?
Those meetings came at a time when Trump was negotiating trade agreements with both countries — particularly China. Those talks are continuing.
Trump campaigned for the presidency, in part, on renegotiating international trade deals in which he believed the United States came out the loser. One in particular was NAFTA, entered into with Mexico and Canada.
So while the Trump White House was working on what eventually became the USMCA, Obama shared a private dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reportedly to discuss how to get young leaders engaged in politics.
Possibly meaning nothing, Trump was days away from turning 71 at the time of the meeting.
Obama promised during his first presidential campaign that he would willingly meet with world dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un without preconditions. He never dd.
Trump, however, had two meetings with Kim, in which both China and South Korea played a pivotal role.
As noted above, Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also met with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.
Trump’s initial National Security Adviser, former Army General Michael Flynn, was threatened with a Logan Act charge for meeting the Russian ambassador as a Trump transition team member. The Logan Act is a 220-year-old law that prohibits Americans from unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments. It’s never resulted in a single conviction.
But while Flynn worked as a member of the transition team, Obama’s meetings are as a private citizen. No one’s suggesting he interfered with U.S. foreign policy, but the optics he’s creating are horrible.
Presidents often find a worthwhile activity to fill their days after leaving office.
With Jimmy Carter it was providing housing for the poor.
George H.W. Bush palled around with Bill Clinton to aid people stricken by natural disasters around the world.
George W. Bush’s cause was and still is disabled veterans.
Fairly or unfairly, Obama was often criticized for spending too much time on the golf course while in office. Maybe it’s time he returned to the links and gave thought to what he wants to do with the rest of his life — something other than private meetings with world leaders.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.