In an interview for Vanity Fair with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, President Barack Obama discussed a variety of things, including his plans to be a little less filtered when he leaves office in regards to his opinions.
According to Obama, “There are things that in some ways I suspect I’m able to do better out of this office.” He added that because of the “institutional constraints” of the presidency, “there are things I cannot say.”
“There are institutional obligations I have to carry out that are important for a president of the United States to carry out, but may not always align with what I think would move the ball down the field on the issues that I care most deeply about,” he said.
Although it’s somewhat elusive as to what Obama is suggesting, some see it as a good chance that he’ll be a much more ‘activist’-type ex-president.
The typical recent ex-president has retreated into a career that involves some charitable work and some buckraking. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all mostly withdrew from the daily give and take of politics, and certainly from controversial issues.
Obama will likely do some of both. But he’s unusual in a few key ways. First, as he reminds Goodwin in the interview, he’ll be just 55 years old when he leaves office — if he remains healthy, he could be around for decades. Second, he’s relatively popular now that he’s leaving office. And third, there’s his past as a community organizer.
At any rate, I hope it’s worth the wait.
Another notable part of the interview is when Goodwin asks him what he thinks about the phenomenon of Donald Trump.
“I see Trump as a phenomenon of an expression of certain fears, certain resentments, that have been a running thread in American history,” Obama said, adding that “there are always going to be figures who become symbols and expressions of those fears and resentments. So he’s not unique in that sense.”
“I don’t think it’s a surprise for me to say that I don’t think his temperament is suited for this office. But it’s not something that I have to emphasize because I think the majority of the American people have figured that out.”
You can read the full interview at Vanity Fair here.