When Jimmy Carter left office after the White House, he began Habit for Humanity, started the Carter Center to "advance human rights and alleviate suffering" throughout the world, and became a respected monitor in conjunction with the United Nations to oversee fair, democratic elections internationally becoming a pioneer creating standards for the field.
When Bill Clinton left the White House, he started the Clinton Global Initiative to bring together heads of stated, international experts, Nobel laureates, and business leaders to find creative solutions to the most pressing problems in the world. The organization has thus far developed solutions that impact the lives of 430 million people, estimated at a value of $88 billion.
Those are the last two Democrats elected President of the United States.
After the last Republican elected president, George W. Bush, left office, he now paints dogs and cats. And also pictures of himself in the bathroom.
It's, like, so adorable. And he's actually quite good at it. Not good in a professional way that he would make a living at, or that anyone would buy the watercolors if they weren't signed "43" (which is either a reference to the number president he was, or the price he plans to sell them for at the next street art fair). But he clearly does have an ability no one expected.
This seems to be a pattern among high profile Republican "leaders." When Arnold Schwarzenegger left office as Governor of California, he also didn't get involved in any political or social endeavor to build on his experience and try to help better the world. He starred in the movies The Last Stand" and Escape Plan, with Maggie, Sabotage and The Expendables 3 in post-production. In three years, that's more activity than he accomplished in seven years in Sacramento.
Hey, at least Mr. Bush and Mr. Schwarzengger finally found something they were good at. Well...okay, not good at, but better at.
While this is all rather quippy, I think it points to a larger, very real issue. Whether it relates to Republicans in general, or just these two gentleman in particular, that's not clear. But it does seem to be a recurring theme -- Ronald Reagan, after all, famously used his time after the White House giving an occasional speech for half a millions of dollars, most notably leaving the country for $2 million in Japan. And after George H.W. Bush left the White House he did...well, I don't know. I know he jumped out of an airplane, but after that, I'm drawing a blank.
(And of course, the former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin didn't even wait to leave the Alaska governor's office when her term was up, but quit halfway through to sign a lucrative TV contract at Fox and do a TV series for the TLC Channel.)
What it shows, I think, at least to some degree, how little interest these former officials have in being leaders and the public good. The jobs were just something to do and move your agenda, and then take the money and run. The reason I think one can draw a greater connection than just this is because Republicans in general openly profess to have little interest in government. They claim to want it as insignificant as possible ("claim," because government and debt tends to expand when they've been in office), and do what they can to cut social services and benefits for the needy. So, why should they work to help conditions and "alleviate suffering" afterwards? They certainly didn't do so beforehand, when they had the power to.
But then, having relaxing pursuits after office isn't a totally uncommon thing to do. People deserve their private respite. Hey, after all, y'know, Winston Churchill painted, too! And okay, he also wrote 72 books. Including a five-volume history of World War II, and the much-admired History of the English Speaking People. And that's after helping win World War II, defeat Hitler and save the world. (Mind you, he also did all of this while helping win World II and saving the world, not just wait until after...so he can be forgiven his lapses)
Indeed, alas, for all his accomplishments he did have his failing. This painting below by Sir WInston, for instance, has no dogs in it. If only it had, it might have sold for more than the $2.95 million it got.
But you can't do everything. Though some people at least try to do something.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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