When Barack Obama boxed up the Lawry’s seasoned salt and packed the Texas Pete (because—as we all know—only poseurs use Frank’s Red Hot), black America figured it was finally over. We believed the only upside to the title of “former president” was that he wouldn’t have to endure the inane outrage that some people (pronounced “caw-cajuns”) attached to his every move. No longer would he have to answer to people who were butt-hurt about fist bumps, tan suits or his affinity for arugula.
But, lest we forget, Obama is black, which means his critics are like a P. Diddy remix: They can’t stop, won’t stop.
People are now incensed that Obama garnered a $400,000 paycheck for speaking at a Wall Street conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald. They say it undermines his attacks on income inequality. Others point out how the former commander in chief railed against Wall Street bankers, and say it makes him a hypocrite. And some posit that the large speaking fees make him inaccessible to the common American. The most common criticism it that it just “feels wrong.”
Of course, they are all guided by their feelings, because—to them—feelings matter more than facts. They felt upset and called it “federal overreach” when Obama reined in Wall Street and fixed the economy. They felt it would never work when he fixed a broken health care system. They felt disbelief when he told them he killed the most wanted terrorist in the world. They feel like climate change is a hoax because the winters feel colder.
The same dunderheaded dolts worrying about Obama’s pockets are eerily quiet about the tangerine turducken shaped like a Times New Roman font lowercase “g,” traipsing across the country for weekend golf outings, who financed his empire by bilking students with his sham university and rubles from Russian oligarchs. Now that Obama has given the best years of his life digging America out of the hole created by conservative, money-grubbing principles, they want to complain?
To quote the great philosopher and wide receiver Ochocinco, “Chile, please!”
Look, people—contrary to what people think, the conversation about income inequality was never about how rich some people made themselves. It was always about how those billionaires kept people poor so they could stuff their pockets with the gold mined by the workers with the pickaxes. No one is mad at Bill Gates. People were mad at Goldman Sachs for profiting while ruining the mortgages and retirement accounts of average Americans.
Furthermore, should Democrats and progressives cede all influence over Wall Street to Republicans who espouse trickle-down theory and free-market principles? Speaking of the “free market” (because there are three things every good-looking Caucasian male over 6 feet tall absolutely loves: the movie Fight Club, microbrewed beer and supply-side economics)—shouldn’t Obama be free to command whatever someone is willing to pay?
Obama is only doing what every president before him did. Bill Clinton has made 13 speeches since 2003 for which he charged over $500,000. If George W. Bush could speak in complete sentences, I’m sure he’d charge a hefty price tag, but then again, he was already rich. Even Ronald Reagan—also known as “GOP Jesus”—once charged a Japanese company $2 million to hear him mumble into a microphone.
Obama spoke at colleges, conferences, churches and nonprofits for eight years for free, so let them stay mad. After all the unearned criticism he had to put up with, he probably deserves more money than that. The ironic part is that there are some people who will say that their criticism has nothing to do with race, and maybe that is true. Maybe asking a man to work for eight years cleaning up the sloppy mess some white guy made, and then telling him he shouldn’t ask for money, just feels racist.
Besides, how else is he supposed to buy hot sauce?