Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept a $400,000 speaking fee from Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald has revealed the divides between mainstream Democrats and progressives in the party, The Hill is reporting.
While he continues to be popular with liberals, Obama has come under fire from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Sanders, D-Mass., for accepting the speaking fee for a conference on healthcare in September.
But others in the party insist he is a private citizen who can do what he wants.
Warren told SiriusXM’s “Alter Family Politics” she is “troubled” by Obama’s decision.
“One of the things I talk about in (my) book is the influence of money. I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington.”
And Sanders, in an appearance on “CBS This Morning” also criticized Obama for accepting the fee.
“President Obama is a friend of mine. I think he as a president represented our country with integrity and intelligence, but I think at a time when people are so frustrated with the power of Wall Street and the big money interests, I think it is unfortunate that President Obama is doing this,” said Sanders, who campaigned against the influence of money in politics during his presidential bid in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.
But The Hill noted Obama’s defenders say his decision is different from Clinton, who along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was paid tens of millions of dollars for private speeches at a time she was getting set to run for the White House.
“It’s completely different from what Hillary did,” said Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. “Nobody ever thought it was a good idea for her to do that before she ran. It created a problem for her and would’ve created a problem for anybody. It’s completely different from what Obama is doing.”
And Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said progressives should be uniting against President Donald Trump and not be concerned about what Obama is doing, The Hill reported.
“The outrage aimed at Obama is going in the wrong direction,” Simmons said. “It’s a purity test, and sometimes our friends on the left hold people to a purity test that’s too strict for our own good.
“Figuring out how best to oppose Donald Trump and coming up with a positive Democratic message should be enough of a to-do list for progressives. We don’t need to worry about what former politicians are doing.”