01/12/2017

How Can We Miss A President Who Won’t Go Away?

Richard Benedetto, Wall Street Journal

Why did President Obama deliver his farewell address in Chicago? Maybe because he has no plans to leave Washington. He’ll stick around at least until his younger daughter, 15-year-old Sasha, finishes high school in 2½ years. He’s leasing an 8,200-square-foot, eight-bedroom gray stone mansion in the posh Kalorama neighborhood, about 2 miles from the White House.

Most former presidents return to where they came from and fade into the background, re-emerging in the capital mostly for ceremonial occasions. If they’ve served two full terms, the norm is to express relief, at least publicly, at the lifting of the office’s great burdens after eight long years.

George Washington put it this way in his 1796 Farewell Address: “Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications . . . every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.”

Mr. Obama is different. If the Constitution allowed it, he most certainly would have sought a third term. In a year-end interview with his former aide David Axelrod, the president said he thought he would have beaten Donald Trump. At the top of his Tuesday farewell speech, the audience chanted “Four more years! Four more years!” His response: “I can’t do that”—not eight is enough. Almost an hour later, near the end of his soliloquy, Mr. Obama declared: “I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days.”

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