One of the best looks at Barack Obama’s post-presidency so far was published over the weekend courtesy of New York’s Gabriel Debenedetti. The story touches on everything from Obama’s decision to largely stay out of the political fray, his lucrative post-presidential business opportunities, writing his presidential memoir, and his behind-the-scenes efforts to save Obamacare. The whole thing is well worth reading.
According to TMZ, the former president and First Lady are getting on a plane after tomorrow’s inauguration and heading straight to Palm Springs.
The Obamas will remain in Washington D.C. for two more years, until youngest daughter Sasha graduates from high school in 2019, according to the Chicago Tribune. In the meantime, they will be renting a home in the Kalorama neighborhood belonging to former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart.
President Obama will be leasing office space in the World Wildlife Fund headquarters near Dupont Circle and George Washington University. He has hired Anita Decker Breckenridge, an aide since he was a state legislator contemplating a U.S. Senate run in 2003, to be his chief of staff. He will be involved in efforts to rebuild the Democratic Party, as well as the National Democratic Redistricting Committee led by his former attorney general Eric Holder. He will also begin fundraising for his foundation and presidential center, which is scheduled to open in Chicago in 2021.
As for the outgoing first lady, the Washington Post has a great story on her possible post-White House plans: after a break, she will hire a small staff and get an office space. Her team will be led by Melissa Winter, her longtime deputy chief of staff since 2007.
Both the President and the First Lady are expected to write their memoirs after leaving office. Literary agents and book publishers told the New York Times the Obamas’ potential book deals could range from $10 to 45 million. One key detail from the NYT: “Under a $1.9 million contract he signed in 2004 with Crown, Mr. Obama is obliged to produce another nonfiction book for the publishing house. But Mr. Barnett has said that book would not be a memoir, and no one interviewed for this story thought Mr. Obama would deliver that book to Crown under the 2004 terms.” This means that President Obama likely has more books in him (at least one more, per his 2004 contract) than just his memoirs.
The Obamas’ popularity abroad could make the foreign rights to any books they write even more valuable. They are both expected to make the rounds on the speaking circuit, which has proven to be a lucrative source of income for former presidents and first ladies.
The other thing to remember is that in addition to their popularity at home (President Obama is leaving office with a 60 percent approval rating, according to a recent CNN poll) and abroad, the Obamas are relatively young compared to other former presidents and first ladies: he’s 55, she’s 53. Considering that both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush are in their early 90s, this means the Obamas will likely have a long post presidency ahead to continue to defend and shape his White House legacy, as well as other endeavors.
The Obama Foundation announced the hiring of White House political director David Simas as Chief Executive Officer. According to the foundation’s press release, Simas will join the foundation’s leadership team and help work on the creation of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. According to Simas’s biography in the announcement:
A Taunton, Massachusetts native, David Simas received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stonehill College and a doctor of law degree from Boston College Law School. In 2007, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. In 2009, Simas joined the Obama Administration as a Deputy Assistant to the President, working with senior advisors David Axelrod and David Plouffe. He then served as Director of Opinion Research for President Obama’s re-election. Simas most recently served as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. He lives in Washington with his wife Shauna and two daughters, Payton and Rowan.
Comments from Simas himself, via Twitter: