Outrageous speaking fees undignified for ex-presidents…

If people are willing to pay you to hear you talk then I suppose why not take the money? I mean I could go on forever, talking that is, and if someone would pay me for it…

Even so, there seems to me to be something unseemly about ex-presidents charging a hundred thousand of dollars or more at a pop to speak before audiences.

Would have George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln done such a thing? I could not say. The practice I imagine had not been established at the time. But to me it somehow cheapens one.

I think it’s undignified of ex-presidents to put themselves on the market. I would have thought they were greater than that (some of them anyway).

Maybe some kind of modest honorarium or something, but a hundred thousand or more?

How about Ronald Reagan? He left the presidency and then flew over to Asia and gave a couple of speeches for $2 million. His greatest success in show business was not in Hollywood where he was a B actor and was upstaged by a monkey in at least one movie (Bed Time for Bonzo), but in Washington D.C. Who knew?

On the other hand, ex-presidents have made good money selling books. I don’t see as much of a problem with that. I think a book is something more substantive and of more value, or at least could be. I would think some thought would go into creating a work one would hope to stand the test of time. And if not, well, books sales would suffer.

But the marketing of your image?

If  you were president and you were thinking ahead to when you would not be, with those outrageous speaking fees in your mind, might you alter your actions to what might market well, rather than what was best for the country?

And if you were president of the United States did you not have some other skill or public service to offer other than moving your mouth?

Jimmy Carter, although I understand he collects those speaking fees, has done much for charitable or social causes, even hammered nails for Habitat for Humanity. He’s probably a better ex-president than he was a president.

I’d love to hear an ex-president speak in person, but I would not pay a dime for it. Well, let me take that back. I would not be the one paying the speaking fee. And I imagine I would be willing to pay a modest or affordable ticket price.

And actually I would not necessarily love to hear George W. Bush speak. For my money he was the worst president and the most shameful we ever had. His ignorance, a willful ignorance with a flip attitude, cost a lot of American lives.

Bush charged an organization representing wounded veterans more than $100,000 for a speaking fee and air fare and such.  His terrible blunder in Iraq resulted in thousands of Americans dead and gravely wounded. If he had any self-respect he would have waived his fee.

Like I said I would like to attend a speech by an ex-president:

Bill Clinton probably would put on a good presentation. And cashing in on speaking fees is what you would expect of him. As intelligent and quick-witted as he obviously is one wonders if there is really more there than showmanship and self-promotion, though.

The late Dwight Eisenhower was not a terribly good speaker but I imagine he would  have great observations guided by sincere core beliefs in our country.

I never thought LBJ was fun to listen to. And he was another one who made a terrible war blunder, even worse than W. in lives lost and reputation of our country, but his was not a mistake out of willful ignorance but of failing to get out of the straight jacket that was the Domino Theory and the Cold War mentality.

Richard Nixon would be interesting, but you might wonder which side of his baffling personality you were hearing.

But anyway the idea of public figures of such high station cashing in on their notoriety as if it was nothing more than show business cheapens their legacy or contribution to our society (to the extent there was a contribution).


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