White House

Obama implies he’ll be more vocal about issues after he leaves office

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a campaign event at Bayliss Park, on Aug. 13, 2012, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, during a three day campaign bus tour through Iowa.
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a campaign event at Bayliss Park, on Aug. 13, 2012, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, during a three day campaign bus tour through Iowa. AP

Many U.S. presidents, upon leaving office, try to fade from the national spotlight and live the rest of their lives as private citizens.

President Barack Obama implied in a Vanity Fair interview that he might choose to go a different route.

In the interview conducted by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Obama talked about his use of the term “radical Islam,” how he would miss Air Force One and his desire to make the world better.

Then there’s a short bit where he hints at what life after the presidency might look like for him, a relatively young 55 years old as he exits the office. He says there are some things he suspects he’ll be able to accomplish better after being president.

“Having had this office has given me this incredible perch from which to see how the world works. The power of the office is unique and it is a humbling privilege,” Obama said. “With that power, however, also comes a whole host of institutional constraints. There are things I cannot say. There are things that...”

“You mean now, but you will later,” Goodwin prods.

“That I cannot say, not out of any political concerns, but out of prudential concerns of the office,” Obama continues. “There are institutional obligations I have to carry out that are important for a president of the United States to carry out, but may not always align with what I think would move the ball down the field on the issues that I care most deeply about.”

Obama has spoken passionately about many subjects as president, one being police violence against black men. He said after the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida that “we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.”

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama said. “I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Once Obama leaves office, and those “institutional constraints” have lifted, we’ll see what issues he decides to address.

President Obama spoke at the grand opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The museum is the 19th and the newest of the Smithsonians.

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