Where Obama & His Family Will Live After Presidency
It was always going to end, one way or another. After eight years in the White House, the Obama family is moving on and President-elect Donald Trump is moving in, with the inauguration set for Jan. 20, 2017. After a year of some of the most divisive political campaigning in the nation’s history, no one could fault the first family for wanting to be done with it already, but of course, just because the Obamas are moving out of the White House doesn’t mean they’re leaving the public eye. Quite the opposite, and many people are more curious than ever about what the family intends to do next.
Former presidents and their families often play the role of elder statesmen when their terms conclude, serving as some sort of national counselors, carrying the knowledge of the office and the flexibility of private citizens. The Obama family is likely to remain mum about its exact plans until its actually cut loose from responsibility—the president has joked that he’ll simply “be on the job market”—but there’s enough to be gleaned from hints and precedent to figure out what the Obamas likely next steps will be.
While ethics rules demand a sitting president and their family not speak openly about precise plans post-office, one thing that is known is where the first family is going to be setting up shop when it departs 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The answer: not far. According to Town and Country, the Obamas are renting a 8,200 square-foot house in Washington, D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood, just two miles from the White House.
As amusing as it would have been if the Obamas decided to set up shop in, say, a desert town only accessible by foot or mule, it’s safe to expect they’ll be staying close to the Beltway for a bit. Staying in the city they’ve called home for nearly a decade keeps them close to the business of politics, maintains stability for their youngest daughter, Sasha, who is still in school, and keeps the family close to a first lady-approved list of the best dinner spots the nation’s capital has to offer.
According to ABC News, “If the Obamas do stay in Washington and maintain a residence in the city, President Obama would be the first president to do so since Woodrow Wilson.”
Writing and reflection
While Barack Obama’s writerly bona fides have long been established through the success of three books, Michelle Obama, a former executive with the University of Chicago Medical Center, has made no such foray into the realm of letters. That’s likely to change once her time as first lady is finished. Though Michelle has made no formal announcement regarding such a project, buzz about the notion has been swirling for months. Publishers and agents alike are atwitter about the prospects for a post-White House memoir from Michelle, with the founder of the ICM/Sagalyn Literary Agency saying that such a book could be “the most valuable first lady memoir in history,” to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
This is no surprise. Keep in mind, Michelle entered the White House as an accomplished professional and has had a notoriously conflicted experience living in the high-security confines, which she’s described as having elements of a “really nice prison.” The chance to read her one-of-a-kind reflections on her family’s time in office is something audiences of all political persuasions would likely be interested in reading. Doubtless, Barack will likely produce more books in his lifetime as well. It remains to be seen, however, if Bo Obama will add to his own library of work.
From the White House to the Harvard Crimson
Malia Obama, the oldest Obama daughter, took a gap year between high school and college to allegedly smoke pot and watch her peers play beer pong, which, in our humble opinion, is her God-given right as a millennial. But come 2017, she’s going to get down to business and pursue higher education at the prestigious Harvard University. The gap year, which is actively encouraged by the Ivy League school’s administrators, comes on the heels of a sheltered tenure at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in D.C. As Malia enters college as a private citizen, let’s hope the baggage of being a former first daughter doesn’t weigh her down too much and that fellow students let her live a little. Stop narcing on this presidential daughter, people.
Speeches and engagements
One of the most customary gigs for a former president to partake in is lucrative, private speaking engagements. The nature of the appearances changes depending on the purpose—some former presidents stump for fellow politicians, as Bill Clinton often did for wife Hillary Clinton during her presidential runs. Former presidents can also be highly effective as spokespeople for humanitarian causes, as President Jimmy Carter continues to do. Even George W. Bush, a particularly chilled-out statesman who’s known more for an oddly endearing painting hobby than being an ongoing political presence, has occasionally used his position as a public figure to address the nation when the situation calls for it. There’s no reason to believe Barack and his family won’t do the same, especially given the president’s reputation as a skilled orator. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say when he doesn’t have a campaign to worry about.
Philanthropy here and abroad
Barack got his political start in Chicago as a community organizer. Calling it “the work [he] really loves to do,” he has made it clear he doesn’t intend to spend his life post-office idly. After the presidency, he’s likely pick right back up where he left off, using the prestige of the Oval Office to redouble his efforts. To that end, the family has established the Obama Foundation, a nonprofit organization “to carry on the great, unfinished project of renewal and global progress,” according to its website. One of the organization’s first endeavors will be establishing the Presidential Center and library on Chicago’s South Side.
Despite how often the U.S. Presidency is referred to as the single most powerful office on Earth, there are myriad elements about the day-to-day job that are maddeningly constraining for politicians and their families. For one, they’re forbidden from driving because the duty to keep the first family safe overrides anyone’s desire for a scenic jaunt. It may be a luxurious life, but it’s one you can’t escape from, and that has a way of wearing people down no matter how outwardly powerful they are. For Michelle’s part, she’s looking forward to getting back behind the wheel, Secret Service be damned. “I’m going to spend that first year just hanging out the window,” she told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Barack, who made an appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, also noted the claustrophobia-inducing restrictions on his movement while taking a brief spin in a classic Corvette…on the White House grounds.
Sasha stays the course
While older sister Malia jets off toward higher education at Harvard, Sasha Obama will emerge from the White House a teenager in her sophomore year of high school. During an interview with Barbara Walters for ABC News, Barack said Sasha “will have a big say in where we are” when it comes time for her to choose a college. The Obamas have portrayed a tight-knit family image, so it would come as no surprise if the first family stuck together geographically in years to come. Separating Sasha from her high school friends after the presidency might be a bridge too far, especially after all the compromises she’s made while growing up in the White House. “They, and Michelle, have made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things,” Barack joked to Walters.
The ascension of Bo and Sunny
We’ve known first dog Bo Obama since he was a first pup, and he seems to have successfully secured the bipartisan support of millions. Having celebrated his eighth birthday in October 2016, the Portuguese water dog with the wet eyes and the panda pelt is basically at retirement age—and what good timing. Maybe he’ll retire to Texas like George W. and hook up with his long-lost sister, Bailey. They could go into the merch business or follow the paths of many ex-politicians and take to lobbying for cherished causes, such as fetch, frisbee, and chasing laser pointers. Or hey, he and his Portuguese protégé, Sunny, could even run for office together. Leaving the White House with an indisputable 100 percent approval rating puts these pooches in an enviable position—the world is their Milk-Bone. If nothing else, ducking the public eye at last means it’s probably safe to break that diet.