Barack Obama, who has spent a career inveighing against the politicians in Washington, is thinking of staying there even after his second term expires, ostensibly because he doesn’t want his 12-year-old daughter, Sasha, to leave Sidwell Friends School.
Obama has often intoned, “It is good to be out of Washington.” But when interviewed by Barbara Walters of ABC News this week, Obama and Michelle Obama averred they might stay beyond their call of duty in order to let Sasha graduate. “We gotta make sure that she’s doing well . . . until she goes off to college,” Obama said, “Sasha will have a big say in where we are.”
No president since the dying Woodrow Wilson has stayed in Washington after leaving office. Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution, deplored the idea, saying, “Once you’re in Washington you are somehow connected to every problem that your predecessor is going to be confronting. And you will be asked to say something each time your name comes up, given that you will have reporters camping out on your doorstep … It’s just not a very congenial place to hang out” Josh Earnest, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said the issue was still undecided, saying of the Obamas, “they are still trying to figure it out. It is certainly something they have been thinking about, and that is evident in the answer they gave. I think it is school and Sasha being able to keep her social group as much as possible — that is what is most important to them.”
The Obamas still own a home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood; Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Svengali, said when they left for Washington, “It is really not goodbye. Rather, Chicago will say, ‘See you soon.’ ” But Michelle Obama told USA Today in May 2012, “While I like going back to Chicago — I like to see the lake — this is home now because this is where we’ve built our lives . . . And when it’s time to leave, we’ll build it somewhere else.”