Is Obama Running a Shadow Government from His Mansion in Kalorama, Washington DC?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

This post was motivated by “The Obama Factor“, a long and rambling Q&A between Pulitzer-winning historian and Obama biographer David Garrow, and David Samuels, the Tablet’s Literary Editor. Garrow and Samuels answer the question posed in the headline in the affirmative; basically, “quite possibly, yes.” Spoiler: By Betteridge’s Law, my answer is “No,” but with significant qualifications. 

Most of the reactions to “The Obama Factor” — which focuses primarily on the irresistible rise of a fabulist creep who had written not one but two autobiographies by the age of 47, both in election years — have focused on Obama’s sensational fantasy life. In fact, I can only find serious reaction pieces from FOX and the New York Post; nothing from the other side of the aisle at all, and since the piece has been out for two weeks, I assume there won’t be (and if it were easy, the takedowns and the dogpiling would already have happened). Nobody seems to have focused on the most provocative part of “The Obama Factor”: Why Obama remained in Washington, DC, bought a mansion, and what he’s been doing with his time there[1]. In this post, I will take a first cut at explaining that.

I will first look at Obama’s neighborhood: Kalorama. Then I will look at his mansion, and what he is known to have done there. I will then present a great slab of Garrow and Samuels, who present the thesis that Obama is running a shadow government long form. I will conclude by briefly critiquing that thesis. 

The Neighborhood: Kalorama

Here is a map[2] of Kalorama:

From Washington Socialist:

As locals will remind you, Kalorama comprises two separate neighborhoods: Kalorama Heights (also known as Sheridan-Kalorama) and, to its northeast, Kalorama Triangle.

 The Obamas live to the Northeast, in the Kalorama Triangle. Kalorama has always been full of rich people:

Kalorama emerged relatively late as central DC neighborhoods went and was not extensively developed until the very end of the 19th century. It quickly attracted the wealthy and well-connected who built or purchased lavish mansions or fashionable rowhouses.

But now Kalorama is full of nouveaux riche[3] as well. From Trulia, “The Real Estate Voyeur’s Guide to Kalorama Heights, Washington D.C.’s Most Bipartisan Neighborhood“:

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Kalorama, Washington D.C.—a small and tranquil neighborhood located northwest of Dupont Circle—suddenly transformed into the epicenter of wealthy and political elites in D.C. First former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle announced they were moving into an 8,200 square-foot home in the area (which they’ve confirmed they are buying). Next, Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos purchased a $23 million Kalorama house—the largest private home in the entire city. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson purchased a $5.5 million property. And most recently—and prominently—current First Family members Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner began renting a 6,870 square-foot property in the neighborhood.

(Bezos is the dude with twenty-five bathrooms; Jared and Ivanka are already fighting with the neighbors.)

Kalorama is also full of embassies. From the Washington Diplomat:

[There are] 28 embassies in Washington’s well-heeled Kalorama neighborhood…. Embassies there include Algeria, Belize, Estonia, Greece, Japan, Latvia, Slovenia, Turkey, Madagascar, Mali and Syria. A variety of ambassador residences also call the tony neighborhood home — among them Afghanistan, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Mostly, it’s simply a friendly neighborhood, European Union Ambassador David O’Sullivan said. The European Union has had a residence in Kalorama since 1972, and he looks forward to socializing with the new residents….

Maguy Maccario Doyle, Monaco’s ambassador to the U.S., has not run into her high-profile new neighbors yet, but “”I’m thinking of inviting them all over for a glass or two of champagne,”” she said. “”Perhaps they will drop by to watch the Monaco Grand Prix with me in the springtime? I would love to host them. I’m sure we will discover we all have much more in common than just a zip code…” In addition, says Maccario, “”the security is unbeatable, and it’s reasonably close to the best amenities and businesses that D.C. has to offer.””

So, speaking of ambasssadors and “unbeatable security,” what about the spooks? Bien sur! Town and Country once more:

Kalorama has its quirky side. Marie Drissel and I sampled it on a stroll down Leroy Place, a short street that dead ends into Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle. She lives one street over on Bancroft, where Ralph Nader’s family have been longtime residents.

“”This was a CIA safe house for years,”” she says of a large house on her corner. She points out an imposing, red brick house across the street.

Of course, the Spence debacle was in 1989; nothing like it could happen today. And I’m sure there aren’t any safe houses in Kalorama now.

And speaking of spooks and “amenities,” see WaPo’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence“. A taste:

One Washington Times headline on June 30 said everything: “Power broker served drugs, sex at parties bugged for blackmail” The problem is that the prominent people named in the Washington Times — Ted Koppel, Eric Sevareid, Phyllis Schlafly, William Casey, Arnaud de Borchgrave and many others — attended the other parties. The parties where: People sat around in a perimeter after dinner discussing trade policy, where American policy makers were ushered into circles of foreign visitors to make serious talk; parties to which Koppel would sometimes send a stand-in; parties so dull that even Dossier magazine wouldn’t run the photographs. Spence, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. His lap dog Winston — from whom he is rarely separated — is at a town house in Upper Marlboro with a longtime Spence employee. The imposing stone house on Wyoming Avenue in Kalorama, where Spence once lived and entertained, is attracting gawking news hounds.

The Kalorama Mansion: $8.1 Million

Obama actually has four homes: In Oahu, Hyde Park, Martha’s Vineyard, and the focus of our present interest, Kalorama. From Ghosts of DC, here is the exterior of the 8,200 -square-foot mansion:

And here, from Town and Country, is part of the interior:

These images are from the listing agent; they remind me of the Georgetown safehouse in Spook Country where Milgrim hears the voices of Brown and his handler coming up the stairs, Whispering Gallery style. The decor is certainly very white; Michelle seems to have redecorated it in neutral tones with accent colors.

What Obama Has Done in Kalorama Mansion

Two things that I can track down[4] (given Google and the limited time available to me; I have to attack HICPAC again soon).

First, Obama orchestrated Biden’s selection as the Democratic candidate from his mansion. From WaPo, April 14, 2020:

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden for president Tuesday, saying in a video, with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Biden “”has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery.””

Obama said of his vice president and friend, “”Joe gets stuff done.””

Biden has used his eight years serving as Obama’s vice president as a central credential in his White House bid.

….Obama, in his endorsement, reached out to Bernie Sanders supporters with lavish praise for the independent Vermont senator while scorching Republicans.

Visibly graying, Obama taped the video at his home in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood.

The Night of the Long Knives was March 2. April 14 was the coup de grace. Obama clearly didn’t make this video on his iPhone; his office is set up for serious business.

Second, if Roger Stone (2020) is to be believed, Obama orchestrated Stone’s conviction:

For the sake of journalistic clarity and transparency, the woman appointed as the Jury Forewoman for my trial—Ms. Tomeka Hart—is an established Democratic Party activist and a protégé of the Donna Brazile….

I have in my possession a sworn affidavit from a secret service agent that claims that he witnessed Atty. Hart entering and leaving the residence of former President Barak and Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett on Kalorama Avenue in Washington, D.C.—during my trial.

Well, maybe. I can’t imagine this was ever proved in court. What Stone’s story does show is that Obama’s Kalorama mansion has been a focus on the right for some time.[4]

Obama’s Shadow Government

With that very long setup, we undertstand Obama’s Kalorama milieu and his, well, operational capability within his mansion. We can now turn to the great slab of material I promised from Garrow and Samuels session (bold is Samuels, of The Tablet, roman is Garrow). I have added notes and highlighted comments. A Literary Editor, Samuels, makes the running, but these are strange times:

[SAMUELS] What interests you most about Obama today?

[GARROW] The number one thing about Barack this past five years is how completely he’s vanished.

Why is he living in the center of Washington, D.C., then?

Well, how much time is he spending there as opposed to Martha’s Vineyard? I have no idea.

Between July Fourth and Labor Day, sure. The rest of the year, he lives in a large brick mansion in Kalorama. Doesn’t it strike you as weird that he’s an ex-president, he’s comparatively young, and he’s living in the center of Washington, D.C.? The original excuse was that Sasha had to finish school. Then you could say, “”Well, the opposition to Trump needs a figure to rally around.”” But now Sasha has graduated from USC, Trump is gone, Joe Biden was elected present, but he’s still there.

I never see any mentions of him.

Doesn’t that strike you as odd? I mean, I have heard from more than one source that there are regular meetings at Obama’s house in Kalorama involving top figures in the current White House, with Secret Service and cars outside.[1] I don’t write about it because it’s not my lane. There are over a thousand reporters in Washington, and yet there are zero stakeouts of Obama’s mansion, if only to tell us who is coming and going. But he clearly has his oar in….. It’s turtles all the way down. There are obviously large parts of White House policymaking that belong to Barack Obama because they’re staffed by his people[2], who worked for him and no doubt report back to him. Personnel is policy, as they say in Washington.

Which to me is a very odd and kind of spooky arrangement. Spooky, because it is happening outside the constitutional framework of the U.S. government[3], and yet somehow it’s been placed off the list of permitted subjects to report on. Which is a pretty good indicator of the extent to which the information we get, and public reactions to that information, is being successfully controlled. How and by whom remain open questions, the quick answer to which is that the American press has become a subset of partisan comms.

I’m going back to something you said 20 minutes ago. From the get-go, I know enough intelligence community stuff that from the first time I saw it, I realized that Christopher Steele’s shit was just complete crap. It was bad corporate intelligence, even. It was nonsensical.

What scared me back then was coming to understand that a new milieu had been created consisting of party operatives, the people in the FBI and the CIA who are carrying out White House policy, and the press[4]. It is all one world now. And that’s something people still seem loathe to admit, even to themselves, in part because it puts them in a state of dissonance with this new kind of controlled consensus that the press maintains, which is obviously garbage. But if you question it, you’re some kind of nut.

Readers will understand why I find this thesis attractive. It conforms to my priors!

[1] We have a falsifiable theory. Do a stakeout.

[2] A Flex Net, a familiar data structure.

[3] Yes, a change in the constitutional order that I’ve been yammering about for some time, and also the central, unspoken theme of election 2024.

[4] The Twitter Files show this “milieu” clearly, though I’m not sure the command structure is as Samuels understands it. Also, tech is involved throught he content moderaion process, and maybe in other ways. (“Milieu” is a weak word’, I think, but we’re looking at a hard, unprecedented problem.

Samuels summarizes in his introduction:

To an extent that has never been meaningfully reported on, the Obamas served as both the symbolic and practical heads of the Democratic Party shadow government that ‘resisted’ Trump—another phenomenon that defied prior norms. The fact that these were not normal times could be adduced by even a passing glance at the front pages of the country’s daily newspapers, which were filled with claims that the 2016 election had been “”stolen”” by Russia and that Trump was a Russian agent.

Now to conclude with a critique.


Take “The Obama Factor” as read, as Samuels explains it. Is it correct to conceptualize the operation Obama is running from his Kalorama mansion as a government? (Remember that the scope of a shadow government is “whole of government,” not just parts.) Having read the article, and turning the question over in my mind, I posed the following question to the readership:

Query for the readership: Would Obama have invaded Ukraine, if he had been elected for a third term?

Because if Obama’s running the government, then he’s also running our proxy war in Ukraine? I should not have written “invaded”; I am always pressed temporally. Alert reader Nippersdad understood this, and answered what I meant to ask:

IIRC, Burns’ Nyet means Nyet cable was written during the Obama Administration when he was the Ambassador to Russia, a time in which Obama was saying that Russia had the advantage of proximity to any potential conflict with nearly unlimited ability to escalate (escalatory dominance, I think he called it). He was still saying that he was trying to implement the Minsk Accords as late as Feb. 2016.

“”We are pressing hard to see Minsk fully implemented by the time the president leaves office,”” said a senior administration official, referring to the pact brokered by France and Germany and signed by Ukraine and Russia. “”We’re aiming for implementation during the second half of 2016.””

So, no, in spite of the obvious pressure on him it did not look like he would have gone to war with Ukraine in a third term. That was Hillary’s bailiwick.

Alert reader Carolinian wrote:

And while I don’t like Obama I don’t think he would have invaded Ukraine or provoked a war the way Blinken/Biden did. After all Hillary tried to get him to attack Syria and he didn’t.

Alert reader IACyclone wrote:

Re: Would Obama have invaded Ukraine given a third term.

One of the few good things you can say about Obama is that he possesses a far more realistic understanding of foreign policy than most every other American politician. He’s still on board with the American imperial project and he constantly got rolled by opposing factions within the Deep State, but he at least he wasn’t totally high on his own supply.

Case in point, he explicitly told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview that Ukraine is a critical interest to Russia, and that it isn’t one for the U.S. Thus Obama’s reticence to provide weapons to Ukraine, which Republicans excoriated him over, in order to avoid a cycle of escalation that the U.S. would have no desire or will to match. For all the liberals chanting Slava Ukraine, it would be fun to see the looks on their faces when you remind them that the U.S. started sending actual weapons to Ukraine under the Trump Administration, unlike the Obama Administrations commitment to sending only non-lethal aid.

Alert reader Michael Fiorillo wrote:

I am far from an Obama fan, to put it mildly, but I think he’d have been reluctant to go into Ukraine. His refusal to send missiles there and his negotiating with Iran suggests some sense of limits to US power on his part.

And alert reader Pat:

I despise Obama, but I have always given him credit for recognizing what a disaster Hilary’s Libyan invasion was and realizing that the advice from that faction was almost consistently wrong.

(I understand Rev Kev’s point on Obama closing embassies, but I see that as posturing.)

So, I am with these readers. If Obama would not have fought the Ukraine proxy war that Biden is fighting, then Obama is not “governing.” QED. This was my first thought as soon as I cooled down — it’s nice to have one’s priors supported — after reading “The Obama Factor,” which is why I reached out for confirmation. (In essence, Obama never goes near anything that will make him look out of control, or like a failure, or dirty in some way. He moves away from situations like that like a cat backing away from a dish of spilt milk. A war in Ukraine, even a proxy one, would be more than capable of doing all three. So he wouldn’t go near it.)

* * *

So what is Obama doing? What is “The Obama Factor”? Perhaps we should reframe government to that horrid neologism governance. It’s clear that Obama is maintaining his FlexNet and using it to….. do….. What, exactly? Control the Party so many of whose members have an Obama-shaped hole in their heads? Control the regulatory state through the Democrat Party? Consolidate the class power of the PMC? Whatever he’s doing, we can be sure it will be ice-cold, manipulative, and leave Obama with “clean hands.” Many have quoted Obama’s 2015 interview with quondam comic Stephen Colbert:

The transcript, in relevant part:

[OBAMA:] “”I used to say if I can make an arrangement where I had a stand-in or front-man or front-woman and they had an earpiece in and I was just in my basement in my sweats looking through the stuff and I could sort of deliver the lines while someone was doing all the talking and ceremony, I’d be fine with that because I found the work fascinating,”” Obama quipped.

As it turns out, Biden is not that front-man; otherwise, Obama would be governing, which is not. But if the entire Democrat Party were Obama’s stand-in… Well, that would be pretty neat, wouldn’t it?

Some “quip.” When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time….


[1] Interestingly, “conservative” venues like PJ Media say nothing about this topic at all.

[2] Thank you, Google, for cluttering the map with hotel icons that I have no interest in.

[3] I love it that Jim Bell, “a Kalorama resident and executive vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty,” is also known as “the King of Kalorama.” Also: “Besides political heavy-hitters and diplomats, about a third of Kalorama’s residents are technology executives and hedge fund workers, Bell said. But no one is blinking an eye over the fame of the newest neighbors.” Quite a mix!

[4] Another example is the apparent myth that Obama gave Valerie Jarrett an office in his mansion.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Mark Gisleson

    I can’t sort it out either, but I do know that whatever Obama’s doing, he’s being paid very well for it and the path that money takes is just as IRS-dodging as anything the Biden crime family has come up with.

  2. Alan Roxdale

    I’m going to take a very skeptical view of this theory. Not least because Obama was a much better President than to run things into where they are right now.

    Because if Obama’s running the government, then he’s also running our proxy war in Ukraine?

    This says it all.

    If you’re looking for a theory on who is running government, look no farther than powerful members of the various Departments. With a President in senescence, power passes first to the secretaries, but ultimately to the bureaucrats and permanent insiders. Better to do a stakeout on Robert Kagan, you might get luckier.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Wrong question, re Ukraine. Should be “Would Obama go to war with RUSSIA, if given a third term or its shadow equivalent?” I’d answer yes to that. O fronted the continued effort to move “NATO” first-strike weapons within a five minute flight of Moscow, and the whole neoliberal project of knocking off Putin, debilitating Russia, and breaking it into bits more easily digestible by the Looters of the Empire. Just more of the same, from the guy who said, “It turns out I’m really good at killing people.” And he is a very accomplished liar.

      First black President? He’s got a black soul.

  3. britzklieg

    Excellent! I agree that Obama would not have gone to war with Ukraine and is not “running” a shadow government, whatever that means. On the other hand, it seems beyond doubt that he plays a big role in the unelected goon squad which has always played a shadowy part, not just in foreign policy but in national policy as well. Furthermore and à propos the oft stated “when they tell you who they are, believe them” Obama described himself as a “moderate” Reagan republican and Reagan, who otherwise did so much damage (damage built upon and extended by the Clintons and every POTUS since), accomplished the elimination of an entire arsenal of nuclear warheads (the only bright spot on his dark legacy) with Gorbachev – apparently against the russophobic advice of his cabinet and councilors.

    Granted, most assume Reagan was by then in the throes of a mental deterioration that required Nancy by his side to help him avoid stepping in it (I’ve seen no reference to the part she might have played in the signed 1987 agreement) but here’s a reference by Strobe Talbot, in his review of J.F. Matlock’s book Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (Matlock was Reagan’s senior coordinator of Russian policy and ambassador to Moscow) which asserts Reagan’s move to be based more on pragmatism than pacifism:

    “The 40th President emerges here not as a geopolitical visionary who jettisoned the supposedly accommodationist policies of containment and detente, but as an archpragmatist and operational optimist who adjusted his own attitudes and conduct in order to encourage a new kind of leadership in the Kremlin.”

    No one can know the truth about Reagan’s motivations. And no one can know whether Obama would have gone to war in Ukraine. But we do know Obama rhetorically supports Biden’s war and that support surely sits firmly inside the confines of a bureaucratic system of unelected power mongers, or shadow government if you will, and the pernicious effects it has always had on the nation and its laws of governance.

    1. Carolinian

      Didn’t Garry Trudeau settle this question with his 1980 strip: The Mind of Ronald Reagan?

      I’m not sure Obama called himself a Reagan Republican but did say he admired Reagan’s influence–his political skilz. In that sense maybe they are alike as I always thought of Obama as more of a front man. Starting a high profile war was not his style (he regretted Libya) but behind the scenes droning was. The main thing was the Joe Cool image.

      Biden by contrast is utterly reckless.

      1. britzklieg

        I stand corrected. Did as thorough a search on Obama and Reagan as any search today allows and did not find a quote as I suggested. And your point is valid, especially that last sentence. Here’s an article speaking to the numerous times Obama evoked Reagan and details the shrewd (some might say stone cold) political calculation behind them. I was reminded of it by a reference to an early quote, before Obama became Obama:

        “For Obama, there’s irony in his frequent Reagan references. In his 1995 book, “Dreams of My Father,” Obama wrote that when he told classmates of his decision to become a community organizer in Chicago in 1983, he would “pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds.”

        The Democrat mantra: promise left, deliver right.

        1. nippersdad

          This may be what you were thinking of:

          “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.” *

          Though, like you, I would have to disagree with him. His performance during the Wall Street crash was nothing short of Reaganomics on steroids.


      2. Daniil Adamov

        “(he regretted Libya)”

        I remember hearing that. Did he, though? He said he regretted it, but it seemed to work well enough – ridding America of a regional irritant, with the cost paid mainly by locals and to a much lesser extent by Europeans. Sure, the humanitarian consequences were horrendous, so one has to say one regrets it if cultivating the image of a compassionate progressive. But that aside…

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Interesting stuff. I got distracted down the rabbit hole of Obama’s letter to his ex-girlfriend which I had not read before. He and the Pritzkers were a good fit. I don’t want to contemplate exactly what fit where, but they’re a bunch of peas from the same pod.

    Those Pritzkers. J.B. is talked about as Pres. Jennifer’s funding all those gender affirming clinics. Penny is in tight with Barack still, I’m sure. Rachel’s organizing the Ecomodernists. So who has more clout these days? Pritzkers or Gates?

    Does Gates have a house in Kalorama?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He and the Pritzkers were a good fit.

      If you think about it, and hypothesize that Obama’s Kalorama-based Flex Net is, well, “obstructing official proceedings” by “influencing” the regulatory state, all in parallel to the regular order of the Constitutional process, that’s exactly how Pritzker-inflected changes to Title IX would happen. Not that I’m foily.

    2. Rip Van Winkle

      The quiet Chicago billionaire family, the Crowns, Lester and James, were a great force for Obama in Illinois right from the start. One Nation Under Blackmail book, volume 1.

    1. ambrit

      It makes me feel a bit like Barbara Stanwyck as the old mother on the sidewalk outside staring through the window at the wedding of her daughter to the Rich Man’s Son in “Stella Dallas.”
      Obama is a classic “social climber.” His eyes are on his prize. Everyone else can go to H—.
      If there is a H—, he will probably negotiate for an Executive position in the Infernal Bureaucracy.
      Stay safe.

  5. Carolinian

    Kunstler the other day

    When the impeachment process gets underway in earnest this fall, I expect “Joe Biden” will resign, leaving Ms. Harris to be managed by the shadow-president Barack Obama.

    Knows something we don’t? Or maybe all sides have a rumor machine including Carlson’s throwaway about the Obamas’ “strange” marriage (now fueled by more quotes from the former biographer).

    It’s all pretty deep.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. Deep Crazy sites propose that “Michelle” is not what she appears.
      To cut him some slack, Presidential marriages have always been a bit “stressed” by the situations they find themselves in. Plus, the job attracts many Alpha personality types. You know them, the ones that “the Rules” were not made for, (according to them.)
      And here I was thinking that the Clintons were peak deviance. I wasn’t cynical enough.

      1. some guy

        Well, as J.R. ” Bob” Dobbs is supposed to have said . . . .

        ” Why don’t I practice what I preach? Because I’m not the people I’m preaching to.”

    2. Samuel Conner

      > Knows something we don’t?

      given the misunderstanding about the meaning of US sovereign debt, I’d guess “no”.

    3. Michael

      So here’s the deal Joe.
      I’ll back you if you pick KH for VP.
      Willie Brown memories?
      KH from Deputy DA to VP.

    4. Rip Van Winkle

      Clue game –
      August 2024
      Chicago United Center

      The only question is whether Michelle or Gavin be on top of the ticket.

      Kamala will replace Feinstein.

  6. ambrit

    My goodness. All I can say is that I remember the stellar opportunity Obama had to pass seriously “progressive” legislation in his first two years in office, and he chose not to. That and his choices for his Cabinet.
    Somehow, I have always associated Obama with T S Elliot’s poem “The Hollow Men.”

  7. NN Cassandra

    On the other hand, avoiding war in Ukraine would require giving Russia some real concessions regarding NATO, which probably isn’t possible to orchestrate with stand-ins and from shadows of his Kalorama mansion. After all US weren’t agreement-capable even back in the days when he resided in the White House.

  8. Gaviha

    I agree that Obama would not have started the Ukrainian proxy war being the President. However, it maybe altogether different being the head of the shadow government – if anything turns out badly, it’s all Joe’s doing.

  9. tegnost

    My own take on obama and ukraine is that he knew it wouldn’t happen on his watch and as such there was no cost for him to offer more realistic views and gave him plausible deniability, which I have no doubt he seeks being the craven mafioso that he is Regarding staking out the house it sounds like an outsider would stick out like a sore thumb and be shuffled off forthwith, followed by a call to their boss to question wtf their employee was doing there.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, old skool methods will fail, but a stakeout could be accomplished with some tech. Drones with cameras that park in trees or somesuch.

  10. GC54

    Obama got his payout from the financial bailout, so had no need for Ukr or to keep pulling levers. Biden from familial corruption in Ukr and China. Congress from trading MIC stock buys prior-SMO and pre-covid shorts. Round and round.

  11. The Rev Kev

    A fascinating post this with a few bits to chew over. So Obama has homes in Oahu, Hyde Park, Martha’s Vineyard and Kalorama. I’m going to assume that each home was purchased for a purpose and that was to be in proximity with some groups. The one in Oahu is probably his get away home though but which can also have private meetings with. The one in Hyde Park is to be within proximity of New York’s financial center and all its movers and shakers. The one in Martha’s Vineyard is the setting for so many elites and I think that that was where Kamala went to after her disastrous Presidential campaign but where after she suddenly became the VP nominee. And Kalorama? That is the heart of this network and can be considered the operational headquarters for Obama and his supporters. It has privacy, security enough that reporters do not bother to stake the place out, quick access to some Ambassadors as well it seems and can pose as just some private citizen’s home. Personally I think the outside looks just tacky but that is just me.

    As for Obama and the Ukraine, he certainly laid the groundwork for Project Ukraine. The NATO training of the Ukrainian army, its equipping, the finances that allowed that country to build up its military and vast fortification network and political cover for not following the Minks accords. All that took time since the Maidan – also under his watch and his planning – so I would say that he recognized that there would not be time in his remaining Presidency to launch Project Ukraine itself which was why it was handed over to his former VP to carry out. And the best part for Obama? After Project Ukraine has finished going down in flames and all the catastrophic consequences of it, he gets to walk scot-free and say that it had nothing to do with him as he is only a private citizen. The man is a snake.

    1. marym

      Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. It’s where they lived before and where he’s destroying a park to build his ugly not-a-library.

      1. The Rev Kev

        My mistake. I was thinking of the Hyde Park of New York. Chicago was his base which launched his career as you mention and I guess that Michelle’s family is still there. Maybe that is why he chose Chicago for that god-awful library. As it is the place that he still has clout enough to steam roll over people’s objections and build that library in a public park. I guess that he could not do it in New York’s Central Park as he does not have the clout there. :)

      2. Rip Van Winkle

        Lorado Taft’s statue, Fountain Of Time, is in Hyde Park. Also some nifty Tony Rezco real estate deals for O.

    2. pjay

      Good points on Ukraine. The 2014 coup and its aftermath certainly took place during his watch; but to what extent was he involved in the planning? Biden was certainly in the middle of it as VP, Nuland and the Democrat branch of the neocons in the State Department, and of course the CIA and its various covert activities and overt NGOs. One would think that Obama would have to be in charge. But I’m not sure. Libya did not strike me as his project. He did pull back at the last minute in Syria, made overtures to Putin, and was then sabotaged. He also supported the Iran deal which was constructed under tremendous neocon resistance.

      I tend to agree with others that Obama was more of the ideal front man than a mastermind. My impression is that he was more witting and engaged with the neoliberal economic project than foreign policy .From choosing his cabinet from Citibank recommendations to the financial bailout to Obamacare to the TPP, etc, he was the hip, “progressive,” black frontman for Corporate America, doing its bidding while protecting them from the pitchforks. That seems crystal clear. His entire career has been one of elite selection, sponsorship, and grooming, and he paid off big for them. On foreign policy, however, I don’t see him as part of the neocon warmonger faction of the Democrats, but rather the *slightly* more realistic and *slightly* less warlike economic globalists (are there any of these people left?)

      But on the main question: Obama is not some behind-the-scenes mastermind. He is a lackey for the powers that be. I do think he represents one of the competing factions of the elite, and he is a crucial cog in the Democrat’s political machinery. But I’m not sure how he fits with the Biden administration these days, in spite of the help he has given old Joe.

      1. nippersdad

        That is largely my opinion as well. Your quote about his standing between the bankers and the pitchforks is well chosen, the one that came to mind for me was when he said he was responsible for our becoming a petrostate:

        “That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas that was me, people.”*

        If his actions immediately upon getting elected, even before his inauguration, WRT banker bailouts weren’t instructive enough, his actions during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were even moreso. Even Bush couldn’t get those leases through, but he traded on his reputation for probity to get things for various industries that would heretofore have been impossible given the existing regulatory environment. Things like the Heritage Foundation plan for healthcare. That is where I think he gets his thrills, at the nexus of corporate and regulatory power. In that way he reminds me a lot of Tony Blair, and I suspect in a few years we will start hearing about his shady business deals in much the same way.

        I do not think that the rise of the censorship state happening on his watch was a coincidence. I remember the Huffington Post getting its’ rep for shadowbanning commenters at the very time he was jokingly saying that no one should get their news from Huffington Post. What we are seeing now seems to me to be the culmination of something which started under his aegis; the censorship industrial complex was already up and running for his handpicked nominees, as has been seen weaponized in Russiagate during the Trump Administration and now during Bidens.

        He is the guy in the back room with the cigar, and I think he likes it that way.


      2. Ashburn

        “On foreign policy, however, I don’t see him as part of the neocon warmonger faction of the Democrats, but rather the *slightly* more realistic and *slightly* less warlike economic globalists (are there any of these people left?)”

        Huh? Obama had a fillibuster-proof Democratic Congress behind him when he entered the office. He had the country behind him, as Bush/Cheney not only had got us into war quagmire, but also were in charge when Wall Street imploded. So Obama could have gotten us out of the mess in Afghanistan and Iraq without too much fuss. Instead he ‘surged’ in Afghanistan, kept the Iraq war going, led from behind on the regime change in Libya, expanded the funding for the CIA’s dirty war in Syria, and backed the Saudis and UAE in their assault on Yemen. He also became the world’s single deadliest terrorist with his drone campaign across half a dozen countries.

        Not part of the neocon warmonger faction of the Democrats? He personally destroyed the anti-war faction of the Democrats and ensured they would remain without influence in the party.

        1. pjay

          I agree with everything you say here – and yet I stand by my statement. Obama was an enabler in the ways you mention, yet there was a difference between the Obama faction and the neocons, for some of the reasons I mention and others besides. It’s all relative – I said *slightly* less warlike. But to understand the underlying politics I think it is useful to distinguish these two factions. In some cases he did let things happen (“led from behind”). I think Libya and Ukraine fit here. But in other cases he did try to reduce tensions – in Syria after the agreement on chemical weapons, or with Iran, and he was sabotaged by the neocons in his own administration and in the national security establishment. I’m not defending Obama at all; I’m saying that the neocons embedded throughout our Establishment are worse. And when he did try to tap on the breaks ever so slightly, he was shown that he was not really in control. I’m still mystified about how the Iran nuclear agreement was passed; but of course it was destined to be gutted anyway.

    3. Acacia

      Agree with pjay’s general take, above. Obama was/is no mastermind. He’s a very well-paid front-man or “node” for other powers.

      It’s worth bearing in mind that Obama’s first career was as an unremarkable adjunct at the University of Chicago. He was even offered a tenure-track position — several times —, but he didn’t take the offers. Many people outside academia may not appreciate what this means, so they are not struck by the peculiarity of Obama’s case. Univ. of Chicago literally foamed the runway for Obama, and he didn’t take them up on their offer. This is remarkable. What happened?

      If you dig into his story even a little, it becomes clear that he couldn’t do the required writing/publishing, and decided to instead leverage his position to get into politics. To get tenure at a R1 university like UChicago, you must of course be offered a tenure-track post, but more importantly you must WRITE and PUBLISH, and for tenure, ideally an academic monograph. UChicago’s idea was evidently that Obama would publish a monograph on race relations, and be granted tenure on that basis. Over a period of years, though, as Obama (I suspect) struggled with this prospect, the ticket to tenure book project slowly morphed into a memoir of sorts, and then even that was delayed for years, despite a $40,000 publisher’s advance, etc. As an adjunct, Obama had a very light teaching load, so the inescapable conclusion is that he simply wasn’t up for academia and for the kind of writing and publishing it entails.

      It rather feels like he decided against academia because that would have required serious work — real research and writing — while O was just accustomed to smiling and schmoozing his way through life. It was far easier (although evidently still a struggle) to write a book about himself. He had help getting into politics, of course. What was the expected payback? What favors did he owe?

      Anyway, again, the man is no mastermind.

    4. some guy

      Maybe he is just a mansion collector, like Senator McCain was ( he couldn’t even remember how many houses he had in his house collection), and like other Noovoe Reesh people are. Or maybe he is doing it for both reasons . . . . to collect mansions and also for locations near certain networked groups of certain people.

      Somebody is certainly grateful for something . . . . to give the Obamas enough money to collect all those mansions.

    5. digi_owl

      Nah, Ukraine was supposed to happen under HRC. But then outsider Trump walked on stage and started talking about jobs and border walls, thus appealing straight to the masses recovering from the financial crisis.

  12. Phichibe

    I was deep in the throes of the GFC when the 2008 election occurred, and while I’d never bought the Obama myth (my dad and sister were both graduates of the U of Chicago law school, so an extra awareness of its goings on came naturally), I did watch the election night Obama speech with a willingness to suspend my disbelief in the One We’ve Been Waiting For. That lasted less than two weeks when Obama held a press conference to announce his economics team. Standing next to him were Timmy Geithner and Larry Summers. Paul Volcker was relegated to the back row. At that point I knew the fix was in, and we know how it all ended.

    I can completely believe that Obama is running a shadow government behind Biden’s back. Biden may even know and not care. I can’t name a single principal in Biden’s administration who wasn’t a high level member of Obama’s. I still have a copy of the article in 2021 that listed how much money each of Biden’s principals had accrued in their four years in the political wilderness, culled from their financial disclosures from 2009 and 2021. The standout was Susan Rice, who checked the box for net worth between $45 million and $150 million. I doubt expect high level appartchiks to take a vow of poverty but this level of avarice was breathtaking.

    Ironically, Mnuchin and Kushner topped them by starting ‘hedge funds’ (wink, wink) and ‘raising’ $2+ billion plus from the Arab petro-monarchies but they’re Repugs. I expect that from them. Walter Mondale may have been the last honest Democrat or maybe Dukakis, I don’t know. What I do know is that when the Clintons took over the party the loud whirring sound in Washington was the body of FDR spinning like a Waring blender.

    1. Screwball

      Timmy Geithner and Larry Summers.

      That was the tell. I was furious. Obama, by market cap, was the biggest bank whore in history.

      I’m still mad.

      1. Buzz Meeks

        I had been invited to a local county Democratic “Town Meeting” when Obama was first running to discuss his candidacy. After listening to all the race bs and how he would be the second coming of FDR I called bullshit on Obama.
        I said I thought he was a fraud and proceded to point the amount of donations he had received from Wall St along with my concerns about our national security due to the number of dual nationality Israeli high level appointments in his campaign and prospective administration. Election meddling anyone?
        I was asked to leave.

        1. Phichibe

          Second try (just saying in case the first shows up and I get a double post). That’s the article. Lambert, I hope it provides grist for another NC post by you or Yves. It truly is astounding how the PMC has taken over everything and kept the receipts.


        2. Acacia

          Thanks for this link. Clicked through and of course the video at the top of the page was rolling a clip about the “TRUMP INVESTIGATION”. Lol

    2. Phichibe

      Lambert, I hope you see this addendum. I just saw this tweet from Kyle Bass, a China-skeptic investor. I can’t vouch for his numbers but I’d bet they’re correct.

      “Janet Yellen and the U.S. Treasury PROTECT Wall St and Corporate America’s interests.
      @SecYellen … Her fortune comes from 2018-2020 when she ‘earned’ $7 million in speaking fees from Griffin’s Citadel (pushing deeper into China), …”

      To paraphrase Hillary’s defense of her Goldman Sachs speaking fees, they offered her the money. What did we expect her to do?

  13. ArvidMartensen

    Some people might say that Obama is hollow at the core, totally self-centred and searches out unfettered power like a moth to a flame.
    He is also highly intelligent, feigns a cultural superiority, is personable, and a master manipulator after perhaps the style of Macchievelli.
    So for someone who seems to have made power his life, what would he do to control the US through the WH?
    First, he would put a placeholder into the WH. Someone not too bright, who can’t think his way off a stage, and has done some serious illegal sh*t to make him pliable. Tick.
    Then he would start cultivating the next gen of wannabes who are in his image. Young, hip, cultured, looks good, witty, amoral, no social agenda etc. And choose the one who is most likely to do as he says.
    And so we have

    Just being auditioned perhaps? But will she get the gig?

  14. Oh

    I’m sure Saint O would have supported Ukraine and sent arms as Biden his ol’ sidekick is doing. After all, he did step into the Afghanistan debacle and did not want to have US troops leave Iraq.
    Besides, O is a lech – I remember the photo of him ogling the Danish PM while Michelle was scowling. I hope he lives to be more than a 100 years old and suffer in his later years.

  15. Screwball

    Great article Lambert, thank you.

    Nothing would surprise me about Obama. I think he is one of the biggest frauds ever, so I don’t think anything is off the table.

    That said, I think he is just a pawn in the giant chessboard of corruption and deceit. A true and loyal soldier.

    It really doesn’t matter anyway; the future is still FUBAR for us serfs.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    First consider Obama and the Ukraine, then ask how the Ukraine fits with Obama’s policy of a “Pivot to the East”. The Pentagon might come up with a requirement for capability to support two theaters of major conflict but grade school wisdom argues against choosing the same time to pick on the two other kids in school big enough to blacken your eyes and kick you in the face and stomach.

    Biden is the problem. Obama vouched for him and his pliability … but Biden has deteriorated far faster than hoped and with the connivance of other inmates of the Executive Branch — mistakenly considered pliable — he has slipped away from the restraining control of his handlers. Obama’s “Pivot to the East” was a foolish mistake but Biden’s kicking the Russian Bear while preparing to kick the Chinese Dragon with his other foot endangers the near and long-term future of the u.s. Empire. Obama has been drafted as a last best means to somehow keep Biden from dragging the Empire completely off the rails. The trouble is that though Obama may appear a cool-hand, he is a numbly cold hand attempting to slip the lease back on Biden.

    The Elites have miscalculated the impacts of the miserably shallow depths of talent they have developed on the bench meant to hold the leadership vehicle embedded in government purposed to provide their fat feasting upon and strong supports against the Populace. Biden speaks in gibbers and rules, making foul smelling policy mush. Obama, though he valiently strives from his towers at Kalorama Mansion, has lost his ability to make mad Biden heal — and there are fears Biden may be starting to froth at the mouth.

    Alas! What has become of the Empire! Where is the leader now who can protect our Elites from the pitchforks? Where is the leader who can avoid a beating from two of the biggest kids on the playground, now teamed to assure a most savage beating?

    God forbid the rise of a dark horse strongman.

  17. Cure E Us

    Obama – the huckster with the beguiling and disarming smile that disseminated the fanciful-metaphorical-abstract: “Yes We Can.”

    RE: Would Obama have invaded Ukraine given a third term?

    According to President Barack Obama admitted in May 2013 that the United States has come to see armed drones “as a cure-all for terrorism,” because they are low risk and instrumental in “shielding the government” from criticisms “that a troop deployment invites.” Such admissions from leaders of a democratic country with a system of checks and balances point to the temptations that leaders with fewer institutional checks will face.

    It is difficult to know whether Obama would have invaded Ukraine. Does it matter now? He supported/condoned drone attacks in the Middle East; therefore, and if conditions were similar, yes, I’ll speculate that he would invade. Perhaps the President of the United States is only a figure-head. He has directorates (billionaire class, dynastic money, MIC…) that pull his strings. He’s venal, extravagant, and duplicitous; but, he’s an adept intermediary.

    The USA is in a dilemma of its own making. If the establishment is preparing for war – and it seems as if that is a fact – then the figure-head will have to promote this thinking. The establishment will use their time-tested pretexts – as strategically necessary – to engineer public approval for intervention: there is a clear-and-present danger; it is a matter of national security; freedom and democracy are under threat; we must depose the tyrannical dictator, the regime doesn’t respect human-rights, a clear objective of deterring the use of chemical weapons, etc.

  18. timbers

    Of course Obama would been at war in Ukraine and in fact already was. Obama had no choice regarding war in Ukraine, because among other things that war had already started in 2014 when Obama was still in office, with the over throw of its govt and replacement with Azov types determined to start a war. Had Obama stood in Nuland’s way, he simply would have become what Olaf Schulz in Germany is today.

    1. britzklieg

      If we assume that Zelensky is essentially being guided by the West’s hegemonic belligerents perhaps the better question is – would Obama have directed the fatigue wearing poser and his “Western” neocon harpies (is there a “gender neutral” word for the same) to provoke Russia’s SMO as did Biden?

      That both Russia and Ukraine were preparing for a possible conflict is not in doubt and well known. And didn’t Russia/Putin attempt to avert any such conflict up until the last minute despite the draconian sanctions Biden had already imposed? Wasn’t it Zelensky’s talk about needing nukes, at the same time he was amassing troops on a “front line” in the Donbass, that pushed Putin to make the first move pre-emptively? Yes, Obama had already seriously sanctioned Russia on many levels and there was no love lost between him and Putin. But Obama was the one who “pivoted” US foreign policy to China and dismissed Russia as the main threat (gas station posing as a country). Seems to me Obama, without knowing he could win, might not have wanted another Syria like humiliation on his historical and public record/image, which was always the only thing that Barry really cared about. If he couldn’t win against Assad…

      Barry was the ultimate poser and did all he could to divert public attention both from his cruel intentions and his inner bully, unlike the idiot Biden whose brain deadness may have given the Nuland/Blinken/Sullivan cabal impetus to start the war they clearly wanted. I don’t think Obama is disappointed to be at war with Russia but I don’t think he’d have provoked it. His tough words had already become transparent a la “all hat and no cattle.”

      Presidents, especially since after WW II, have always needed a war. Barry already had his and it had essentially failed. I am not convinced he would have taken on another if he had any reason to doubt its success. Obama never wanted Biden to be POTUS, and said so in as many words, until Sanders continued to upset the DNC apple cart in 2020 and created the condition by which the mummy was the only choice available to the “shadow” regime and the blood-soaked neocons now sulking behind their current FP disaster.

  19. Greg Taylor

    After Obama fired the military/blob officers who reneged on Kerry and Lavrov’s cease-fire in Syria, nobody would have dared gone to war in Ukraine against his wishes.

  20. Jade Bones

    Uhm, can one recall the Maidan Coup? Wasn’t that 2014? Who was POTUS and why was Cheney acolyte Nuland assistant Secretary of State in charge of the Ukraine in his administration at all? And as a reward for fomenting the conditions that were bound to lead to a hot war with Russia much to the joy of her neocon hubby, she’s been recently promoted.
    Don’t tell me Obomber might not have done what he’s already done…

    1. Dwight

      Yes, and he didn’t get Ukraine to implement Minsk.

      The real question is whether Obama would have accepted Russia’s ultimatum on security guarantees in late 2021-early 2022. I doubt that. Absent that, nothing different from what Biden did or didn’t do just prior to Russia’s invasion.

      I also question whether there is a clear dichotomy between offensive and defensive weapons, so Obama not approving, Trump approving, and Biden ramping up (to the extent he did prior to February 2022), may not be so important.

  21. ChrisRUEcon

    Thanks for this #SundayFunday treat, Lambert!

    I think Obama’s there to do what he did four years ago – to ensure that his influence on Democrat presidential candidates persists.

    I like the stakeout idea, but I suspect parked vehicles would be shoo’d away! Maybe some drones hovering at a distance … ;-)

    I wonder who’s been there from the potential candidate pool? Newsom, perhaps?! If Biden falters significantly, Obama will be there to anoint a replacement (and it won’t be Harris)!

  22. southern appalachian

    I certainly can’t unravel it. I don’t think this is accurate: “The number one thing about Barack this past five years is how completely he’s vanished.”

    Obama has made a movie, written a book, created a podcast with Springsteen, among other things. The public reception to these things seems to have been modest.

    I’d also push back against the implication that former Obama administration appointees now being in the Biden administration is indicative of some effort at control. I don’t know where else Biden might find people- he was a part of Obamas team for 8 years, would know many who worked there. If not from that group, seems to me one would be looking at people who worked in the Clinton administration- & that cohort must be aging out. I assume many of the not-Obama people that Biden knows well enough to put into his administration are from the FIRE sector of the economy and wouldn’t do from an optic standpoint. But I don’t know that.

    My uninformed opinion about Obama is that he’d become somewhat accustomed to being feted as well as involved and staying in DC affords both. And that if he was up to anything it would be some sort of graft similar to Blair. If interested in maintaining power I don’t think he’d have dismantled his network.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if there was more to it. Washington seems overrun with shadow factions, some quite scary. Too many powerful interests, too much complexity. In that environment one could perhaps materially benefit if clever enough, but I don’t know what leverage Obama possesses that would give him any real authority. What’s he going to do, make a speech? A podcast?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t know what leverage Obama possesses that would give him any real authority.

      I mentioned the “Obama-shaped hole” in Democrat heads. To use 75-cent words, Obama has immense social capital.

      > I’d also push back against the implication that former Obama administration appointees now being in the Biden administration is indicative of some effort at control.

      I agree. I think that too often we look for a “chain of command” and need to be more supple in our thinking. A Flex Net is not a chain of command It’s about accumulating social capital, being “on the team,” making the right choices in a world of Keynsian beauty contests, etc.

      1. southern appalachian

        Thank you, helpful! A environment far from me and unfamiliar, so hard to think constructively about sometimes.

  23. Alex V

    A quick look on Google Street View will show that the street Obama lives on has barriers and blocked sidewalks (no pedestrians signs) at both ends, police presence and camera surveillance.

    I doubt a “stakeout” of the Obama residence would last very long, given the security, even for accredited journalists.

  24. JohnA

    “”We are pressing hard to see Minsk fully implemented by the time the president leaves office,”” said a senior administration official, referring to the pact brokered by France and Germany and signed by Ukraine and Russia. “”We’re aiming for implementation during the second half of 2016.””

    Both Merkel and Hollande have since admitted that the Minsk Accords were purely a ploy to provide breathing space to enable Ukraine to be armed and its large army trained to Nato standards etc. In footage of the various parties at the signing session, Zelensky is clearly smirking like a cat that has got the cream, convinced Nato would have his back and prevent Russia from reacting to provocations. I find it highly unlikely that Obama would have been kept out of that loop or that he would have objected to or overruled them.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I recall they were pressing a lot at the time. Unfortunately they were pressing Moscow, which had no obligations in the accords, and not Kiev that was supposed to initiate the process but instead kept shelling Donbass and Luhansk.

      Of course, as you point out, now we know that peace was not in the “secret protocols” of Minsk Accords.

  25. Kyle

    The theory I have held since Biden announced his run for president:

    We were going to get a Biden BandAid in 2020 – by this I mean, someone comes in and keeps things exactly the same but offers the illusion of difference.

    2024 – there is going to be someone who comes from left field that ends up winning. Maybe this is where Obama fits into my theory.

    Maybe he is pulling the strings behinds the scenes to find the next “him” to put up.

    If you talk to the average voter who voted for Biden, no one wants him. Literally no one. The PMC has to wake up to that fact before primary season and the only person who could tell Biden he’s not running – Obama.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > If you talk to the average voter who voted for Biden, no one wants him. Literally no one. The PMC has to wake up to that fact before primary season and the only person who could tell Biden he’s not running – Obama.


      Just over a year ago, I commented on a conversation I had with someone who’s worked in Dem politics out west (via NC).

      I concluded a couple comments below that one:

      “What delicious irony it would be if none other that Obama himself, who orchestrated the events that neutered Sanders and enabled Biden’s rise from rock bottom, is called upon to put Joe out of his misery.”

      … and I still think this possibility is in play, despite Biden surviving quite a few slings and arrows of fate thius far.

  26. David in Friday Harbor

    It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!

    To understand why B.O. maintains a DC pied-á-terre look no further than Hunter Biden. You can run a nice grift off the simple appearance of being adjacent to power.

    As for all this tea leaf reading about whether B.O. would have armed Ukraine — just look at what happened in Syria. B.O. was content to preen while the Cheney “Let’s Kick Their Ass and Take Their Gas” neocons ran foreign policy for him through the Goldwater Girl at State.

    Euromaidan was pretty clearly “payback” after B.O. got pown’d when Putin and Lavrov made his Ghouta false-flag AUMF fall apart. I still strongly suspect that Lavrov was able to leverage Kerry because he had access to intelligence and Kompromat gleaned from HRC’s basement server and that this infuriated B.O.

    But I don’t think for a minute that B.O. is running a “shadow government.” He’s just trying to stay relevant so that those speaking fees and Netflix deals keep coming.

  27. OveroverB

    Imagine putting your trust in the infamous ratf*cker, Roger Stone. I mean…lol.

    It’s all fairly absurd if you’re remotely familiar with Obama’s contempt for (and clashes with) The Blob. Biden has sided with Trump’s administration in the foreign policy realm, not Obama, on more stuff than not, like the Iran deal, turbo charging the Abraham Accords, reversing Cuba thawing, etc. The Ukraine stuff already mentioned here, and Obama actually worked closely with Russia on the Iran deal and removing chemical weapons in Syria.

    The right wing just can’t muster the same level of hate towards Biden. He is just too boring, whereas Obama can still get their blood pumping (birth certificate, BENGHAZI!, etc.). So we get stuff like this, I guess. SECRET GAY RUNNING OPS. It’s kinda sad tbh.

    He’s good at it, but Obama doesn’t like the political game that much. He doesn’t even like Biden that much (see Bamz just wants to be a rich dude/influencer guy that hangs with celebs. It’s really not that deep.

  28. Es sCetera

    What does the WH need to do that, for whatever reason, it needs to take much care to do outside of the WH?

    Could Obama be track 2 with Russia re: Ukraine? He seemed to have a good relationship with Putin, seemed to have good faith, whereas Biden et al have zero trust and have burned all the bridges.

  29. Rip Van Winkle

    Where’s Rahm? Not in Chicago, but perhaps he left his wedding dress behind in a basement again in case he needs residency to run for political office for another round,

  30. Bawb the Revelator

    Gavin Newsom.and Gretchen Whitmer lock up the female vote. The DNC wins but can they govern without their Silver Tonged Charlatan? Meaningless crap like this reminds me that I’ll be 85 in a few months.

  31. Phichibe

    A few further thoughts on the Exalted One. Obama and I both started college at the end of the 70s so we both took the SAT at around the same time. I’ve long been confident that Obama did not score anywhere near 700, let alone above, on either the verbal or the quantitative parts because of where he ended up going for his first two years: Occidental College in LA. Obama had two things going for him that would have made him extremely attractive to any of the elite colleges: his race and his (grandparents’) income. Plus his family story (African father who gets a Ph.D then abandons his wife who nonetheless gets her Ph.D and works for the Ford Foundation overseas in international development – it screams out for a book – oh, wait, he did write one). Any college admissions committee would have bent over backwards to find a reason to admit him. (The family income, btw, would have meant financial aid was not necessary, a factor that admissions committees take into account.) And yet the best college he could get into was Occidental? That’s one step above BIOLA (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) and Santa Monica Community College in terms of academic prestige. What I infer from all this is that Obama likely got in the low 600s on his SATs. Not an intellectual powerhouse.

    The second thing I wanted to add was the whole University of Chicago adjunct professorship. From what I read years ago, Obama got that on the basis of being the Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review, a position that was determined by election among the student editors. In other words, he was popular with his fellow students. Quelle surprise. Obama has a clear ability to charm most people when he wants to so his winning over a majority of his fellow Crimsons doesn’t astound me. IIRC, he only authored one piece that made it into the review itself, and it was a fairly lightweight piece. I’d like to know what its Google Scholar citation count was before 2004.

    Obama has written in one of his memoirs that as a teenager living in his grandparents’ luxury Waikiki apartment and mixing with their friends that he learned how to change his persona like a chameleon depending on the crowd he was in. It’s a great asset as a politician but along the way he confused that with depth and substance. I recall reading during the campaign in 2008 that he told a reporter he was a better speech writer than his best speech writer, a better policy analyst than his best policy analyst, etc. I think he genuinely believes that. Plus, as Thomas Frank astutely diagnosed when analysing Obama’s inaction post-GFC to really reform the squalid cesspit that was Wall Street, he ultimately concluded that since the mess was caused by people like him – Ivy League credentialed strivers – that their assurances it wasn’t their fault had to be true. It was an act of God, and thus beyond regulation or reform. And that’s how we got where we are. I don’t know if anyone was surprised that his first stop post-presidency in 2021 was Richard Branson’s Caribbean estate, but I wasn’t.


    1. Acacia

      Good detail and yep, Saint O’s post-POTUS stop at Branson’s estate rather fits, doesn’t it?

      For a few additional thoughts on O’s time at University of Chicago, see my previous comment, above.

  32. The Phoenix

    Would Obama have gone to war with Russia over Ukraine? No. He said so himself in the Atlantic interview when he said that Russia would always have escalatory dominance.

    Obama is a stand in for whoever is behind him. Plain and simple. He always was even in the presidency. He moderates the actions of those behind him somewhat instead of just following all orders but works for them and for their goals. He also doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself and his family.

    The main goal is finding a replacement for Joe. That is his main task right now while trying to shore up the sinking US ship just a little while longer.

    He is a smart guy and knows where his bread is buttered. Doing it reluctantly because he’d rather surf with Richard Branson but doing it nonetheless.

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