The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum announced Barack Obama as the recipient of its Profile in Courage Award, which the 44th president will receive at a special ceremony at the library on May 7. The ceremony will be part of the celebrations for the centennial of President Kennedy’s birth on May 29. The award will be presented by former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg, President Kennedy’s daughter and grandson. President Obama will deliver a speech. In a statement from the JFK Library, President Obama said:
“It’s been more than half a century since John F. Kennedy asked us to cast aside our narrow self-interest and take up the chase of a greater ambition: our collective capacity to do big things, especially when it’s hard,” said President Obama. “It was a call to citizenship as true as the words of our founding and a conviction that helped guide me to public service as a younger man – a belief in the possibilities of our democracy and the power of what we, the people, can do together.
“Even today, amidst the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of the politics of our time, it’s a summons to service that rings as loudly as ever. Part of that is thanks to an extraordinary family that continues to light the fire of imagination and plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of each new generation of Americans. Like so many Americans, I am grateful for the Kennedy family’s legacy of service. And I am deeply humbled to receive the Profile in Courage Award.”
According to the award’s website,
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy’s family to honor President John F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most.
The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.
President Obama has kept a low profile for the most part since leaving office in January, though he was recently sighted in New York City and signed a lucrative publishing deal for his and his wife’s memoirs. This presentation and speech will likely be one of President Obama’s first public appearances (if not THE first) of his post-presidency.
President and Mrs. Obama have about 60 million reasons to smile today, according to the Financial Times:
A blockbuster auction for the global rights to two books by Barack and Michelle Obama has reached more than $60m, according to people with knowledge of the sales process, a record sum for US presidential memoirs.
The Obamas are writing separate books but selling the rights jointly.
Several publishers including Penguin Random House, which published Mr Obama’s previous three books, and HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have expressed interest in the most hotly anticipated publishing deal of the year.
Some perspective on how this compares to other presidential book deal:
The sum offered would eclipse other book deals secured by departing presidents. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, paid $15m for the rights to Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoirs My Life when he left the White House, while George W Bush made an estimated $10m from his book Decision Points, which was published by Crown.
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Penguin Random House won the bidding war for the worldwide rights to both books. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but estimated to be worth “tens of millions.” There will be a nonprofit/charity component to the publication and the advances of both books.
The publisher plans to donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a Penguin Random House nonprofit partner, and the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. The Obamas also plan to donate a portion of their advances to charity, including the Obama Foundation.
ATLANTA – Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called on Democrats to embrace the party’s progressive platform from the 2016 election and the protests and activism that have broken out across the country since January, according to a videotaped message played for Democratic National Committee members gathered in Atlanta for the party’s winter meeting. “Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country,” she said, echoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s now-infamous explanation for his decision to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the Senate floor earlier this month. This was her first political address since her election loss last November. Here is the complete transcript of the message:
Thank you all for coming together to represent our party at its best: united, energized, and ready to wage and win the battles ahead. Now as Democrats, we have diverse views and backgrounds. We are Democrats, after all. But we’re bound together by the values and hopes we share for our country. I am grateful for all your hard work and support during the election. Being your candidate was the honor of a lifetime, and I was inspired to see women and men from all walks of life and every corner of our country coming together on behalf of our shared values. While we didn’t get the outcome we worked so hard for, I will always be proud of the campaign we ran: a campaign that was better and stronger thanks to each of you.
After the primaries, we came together as a party to write the most progressive platform in history. Ideas we championed are now inspiring leaders and activists across our country. Nearly 66 million votes are fueling grassroots energy and activism. Nearly everywhere, people are marching, protesting, tweeting, speaking out, and working for an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. From the Women’s March to airports where communities are welcoming immigrants, refugees and people of every faith, to town hall meetings where people are speaking up for health care, the environment, good jobs and all the other issues that deserve our passionate support. Among those millions making their voices heard are future mayors, city and state officials, governors, members of Congress, even future presidents.
The challenges we face as a party and a country are real. So now, more than ever, we need to stay engaged in the field and online, reaching out to new voters, young people and everyone who wants a better, stronger, fairer America. We as Democrats must move forward with courage, confidence and optimism, and stay focused on the elections we must win this year and next. Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country. Thank you to the leaders who have already done so much, beginning with Barack and Michelle Obama. Thanks as well to Donna and the DNC leadership, and to the outstanding bench of Democrats stepping up to lead us forward. As long as we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for our country, our best days are still ahead of us. So keep fighting, and keep the faith, and I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.
God bless you, and God bless America.
Buried in the final two paragraphs of this New York Times article about John Kerry’s new gig at Yale University is this little gem:
While Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, emphasized that the Kerry Initiative is “not a political platform — it’s a teaching platform,” Mr. Kerry, who is also writing his memoirs, has not ruled out a run for president in 2020.
“I haven’t been thinking about it or talking about it,” he said. “I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out.”
Keep in mind, for a time leading up to the 2008 cycle, Kerry left the door open for another possible run. That door closed in no small part because of his poorly chosen comments about troops being stuck in Iraq if they didn’t get an education, the subsequent controversy which neutralized him as a surrogate during the closing days of the 2006 midterms. In addition to that, he discovered in early 2007 that the money just wasn’t there for him, particularly in a field that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Things may be different in 2019, depending on the field of candidates, the state of the country, the results of the 2018 midterms, and public opinion of the Trump administration as it prepares to defend its record and run for reelection. If he has to compete against someone like Elizabeth Warren for the nomination, it could be very difficult. On the other hand, he would also have to stand out and consolidate support from the establishment wing of the party, in a field that could include Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo or John Hickenlooper.
One thing Kerry would have going for him in his second run is his experience as Obama’s secretary of state, which may give him ammunition to criticize the Trump administration on its handling of foreign affairs.
According to The Hill, the Obamas have signed on with the Harry Walker Agency, which will represent them and arrange their post-White House speaking gigs. The publication also reports that Washington D.C. lawyers Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell will represent them in negotiations for potential book deals. There are no book releases or speaking engagements currently planned.
There’s also this bit of news from Politico Playbook:
Allison Zelman, a Clinton and Obama alum, and Paulette Aniskoff, a former director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Obama White House, have launched Citizen 44 LLC, which will “oversee President Obama’s engagement with political and progressive organizations and major supporters around the country to defend his legacy. They will also run his alumni network.” FROM ANITA BRECKENRIDGE, OBAMA’S CHIEF OF STAFF: “Paulette is someone who the President has relied on, and who countless allies and activists partnered closely with during our time in the White House. During her ten years on the campaign and inside the administration, she ran point on some of the most important fights we had and was a trusted senior strategist. We are thrilled to have her as a key member of the post presidency team.”
I don’t suppose anyone told them that Citizen 44 sounds very close to Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about Edward Snowden…
UPDATE: Reaction from Paulette Aniskoff
Multiple news organizations are reporting that former vice president Joe Biden has endorsed Tom Perez for DNC chairman. The Perez campaign has not yet sent out an announcement or posted it on social media. According to the Daily Beast, Perez was telling DNC members gathered in Houston last weekend that he had locked down Biden’s support:
Since as recently as last week, Perez had been telling DNC members that he had secured Biden’s endorsement. At the site of last weekend’s DNC forum in Houston, Texas, Perez was discussing the future of the Democratic Party with a private gathering of DNC members. According to two sources familiar with the exchanges, Perez excitedly said, in an apparent effort to drum up more support from DNC members, that the former vice president had his back. “And that’s why Joe Biden is coming out for me next week,” one DNC member recalled Perez saying.
UPDATE: Here’s the tweet from Tom Perez
Twelve days after leaving office, former vice president Joe Biden announced the launch of the Biden Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, it will “build upon Vice President and Dr. Biden’s lifelong commitment to protect and advance the rights and opportunities of all people through educational programming and public policy analysis.”
The statement from Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden:
Wilmington, DE – My dad used to have an expression: “It’s a lucky person who gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor, knows what they’re about to do and thinks it still matters.” Jill and I have been very lucky these past decades. We look forward to this new chapter where we will continue our work to ensure that everyone—no matter their income level, race, gender, age, or sexuality— is treated with dignity and gets a fair shot at achieving the American Dream. That’s why we are honored that a group of long-time friends and supporters have begun the work of founding the Biden Foundation to build on our lifelong commitment to issues that have always motivated us.
The foundation’s work will focus on foreign policy, cancer research, and ending violence against women, and other issues.
One interesting point on the Biden Foundation website: it will not accept donations from foreign citizens, organizations or countries. This is presumably a response to the fundraising practices of the Clinton Foundation which caused so much controversy during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.