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Why Are People Upset Over Obama’s Paid Speaking Engagements?

Why Are People Upset Over Obama’s Paid Speaking Engagements?

By Ryan Velez

While the world is watching President Trump (for better or for worse), many are also looking to see what his predecessor, Barack Obama, is up to outside of the White House. After a well-earned break with vacations and dinners with celebrities, Obama returned to the public eye with a speech at the University of Chicago. However, not too long after his appearance did the criticism once again come to the surface, and one AfroPunk article says that this isn’t earned.

Part of Obama’s plans include a series of paid speaking engagements, which are coming under fire not just from the usual suspects, but Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren. AfroPunk’s issue with this line of criticism has less to do with the issues itself, but the fact that few past presidents are being targeted for doing this like Obama has.

As writer Erin White notes, despite exceptions like Truman and Carter, many presidents have turned their office into big money after the fact. This includes the Clintons, which came under scrutiny during the heated election last year, as well as the Bushes and even Ronald Reagan before that. Reagan once accepted $2 million dollars to speak for 20 minutes at Fujisankei Communications Group in Japan, in addition to $5 million in accommodation-related expenses.

Of course, we can’t go into this without discussing our current president. Putting current investigations to him to the side (as hard as it may be), it has been well documented that his frequent trips to his Mar-A-Lago business cost millions of dollars to accommodate, much of that money coming from taxpayers. The same applies to the money spent by the NYPD and Secret Service to secure Trump Tower, including the rooms he charges them for to protect his family. This also includes any Trump properties that his sons stay at during their travels.

So while there is an ethical question to whether or not presidents should make the money they do after leaving office, there is also a question whether or not it is as important considering other ethics breaches that may be going on in politics right now. In addition, there is also the question whether Obama is being unfairly singled out for what has mostly become common practice. If this is the case, is it standards changing overall, or Obama being held to a double-standard?


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