We have not heard much from the 44th president of the United States during the last four years. Now he has reappeared.
The occasion is the publication of his presidential memoir — "Promised Land." The timing is odd. The country is in real distress right now and the new president needs the stage and as much support as he can get.
Barack Obama waited four years to produce this book. Why not wait another year and meanwhile work on, well, any number of needed efforts? Maybe a national relief program for the thousands of homeless who have become invisible and lost their soup kitchens and shelters during COVID-19.
Or a jobs program for the thousands of restaurant workers who are now not working.
But there is the former president appearing on all sorts of talk shows, yukking it up with the various hosts, and showing us what we already knew — he's cool.
So? We know Obama can also be inspirational when he wants to be. He was a good head of state if a sometimes mediocre head of government.
But Obama is not saying much these days that inspires or even comforts. The nation that he promised to heal is more divided and broken than ever. The Democrats never gave President Donald Trump a break and the Republicans are not going to give President-elect Joe Biden one.
And Trump (who never got the head of state memo) is going to flout one more presidential norm. Instead of quietly retiring and accepting his fate, he will attempt to keep hold of his party, feed his base red meat and generally harass Biden.
What has Obama got to say about all this?
What is he up to these days? Not registering voters or trying to save the Black family or trying to stop the violence in Chicago. (He never moved back. He stayed in Washington, D.C.) No, he has become a TV producer, of all things.
The nation is on the brink of a real public health and economic collapse, and for a while it seemed we might have a constitutional crisis, with Trump refusing to admit his defeat and the legitimacy of the election.
And Obama has nothing better to do than hawk a book on the talk-show circuit?
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE