- President Obama says he is enjoying life after the Oval Office.
- He says that one particular thing about life after the Oval Office is great: he gets more sleep.
- And he couldn’t resist throwing a subtle barb at the work habits of the current president.
For the most part, President Obama is staying firmly on the high road when speaking publicly. He avoids mentioning President Trump’s name, directly criticising his policy decisions, or responding to whatever Twitter insults Trump may be throwing his way.
And Obama’s message to the people remains clear and hopeful: be good to each other, find common ground, make decisions based on facts, not myths and stereotypes, and America’s future is as bright as ever.
But as the Trump administration has been vocally contemptuous of Obama, No. 44 can’t resist throwing just a touch of shade now and then.
So it was when speaking on stage on Wednesday in Las Vegas to a crowd of about 4,000 tech professionals at a tech conference hosted by identity security company Okta.
When Okta CEO Todd McKinnon asked Obama what it felt like not to be President anymore, without missing a beat, No. 44 replied, “It’s pretty good.”
He said, “I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency,” such as people saluting him or “trumpets” playing when he enters a room. (The song “Hail to the Chief” is often played when the POTUS attends a public event.)
When the Obamas moved out of the White House and into their own home, he said he found himself adjusting to regular life.
“I’m trying to figure out how the coffee maker works. I’m fighting Michelle and Sasha for closet space, which I lost,” he joked. And “that felt fine.”
The biggest adjustment was getting used to a normal pace of work. He spent eight years of hyper stressful days, where work was often dealing with a life-or-death crises. (He made the job seem just like it was portrayed in the old “West Wing” TV series).
But now, “Everything moves in slow motion. You leave the presidency and you are like Neo [from the Matrix] in the end, where bullets are coming at you and they are super slow and you just put your hand up,” he joked.
But the rest of the world doesn’t move that fast.
For instance, when Obama’s book publisher lawyer called to say he urgently needed to meet with publishers chomping on the bit to bid for his next book, Obama replied, “OK, how about tomorrow?” And the lawyer stammered that he meant like, in the next two weeks. Two weeks seemed like an eternity to Obama. “Where I came from, if you don’t do something right away, someone will die,” he explained.
The best part of life after the presidency is the sleep, he said. And that’s where he threw a subtle criticism of the current Oval office occupant.
“I get much more sleep now,” he said, adding (emphasis ours) “There is a physical and mental element to being president,if you are a doing a good job, if you are serious about the job.”
Obama was referring to Trump’s reputation for arriving to work at 11 a.m., leaving by six and regularly taking off work to play golf. Trump has played golf over 100 times and counting, in the year and a half since he took the oath of office, according to some reports.
The audience of tech professionals got the drift of this criticism and laughed, and Obama continued: “I’m just saying what I found, that if you are reading all your materials and your briefing books and going through the whole [decision making process], then it’s a gruelling job. Five hours of sleep for eight years.”
That last bit refers to Trump’s reputation for not reading his daily intelligence briefing report, preferring someone to tell him what’s in it, instead.
So Obama says he’s loving his post president life for “physically having time to rest and read.”
And yet, Obama says he’s still got a bit of Neo in him, meaning he can still work super fast. That has left him with time and energy to take on more projects, he said, such as launching the Obama Foundation, which focuses on training young leaders, or his new deal with Netflix, where he and Michelle Obama will be producing shows about interesting and inspiring people and projects.
More from President Obama’s talk on Wednesday.
- Obama sounds off on the need for Silicon Valley tech companies to be regulated and improve the way they handle data breaches
- Obama describes what being in the Situation Room is like – and it’s advice anyone can use to make hard decisions
- Obama and his friends were so competitive during their White House basketball games, he wound up with stitches
- Obama explains why he signed a deal with Netflix and how he thinks it will help solve our political divide
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