Daily Meme: The Afterlives of Public Officials
- This week, Ben Bernanke turned in his magic wand of fiscal wizardry and officially stepped aside as Federal Reserve chair. So what next? What new heights does one scale, or what hills of money does one slide down, after you've conquered your own particular corner of the world? In Bernanke's case, he's headed into the tank—the think tank, that is. He'll live out his bearded old age as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution. And really, what more could a fellow ask for?
- So where have other public officials put themselves out to pasture after the good 'ole US of A has used them for all they're worth? Let's take a look.
- If we're talking about former Fed chairs, the path post-central bank is fairly well-trod in the direction of private sector banking and consulting. Alan Greenspan started his own consulting group and served as adviser to various other entities, including Deutsche Bank. Paul Volker worked for a time as the CEO of an investment advisory firm but also spent a good chunk of his retirement trying to get justice for those whom the Nazis stole money from during World War II.
- Former Minnesota Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura took an unconventional path after leaving office—he hosts a show called Conspiracy Theory on TruTV (a network that also runs a show called Lizard Lick Towing) and recently announced a new talk show, Off the Grid—"I am somewhere outside the United States and I live where there is no electricity," Ventura said in an interview. Sounds awesome.
- Sarah Palin had her own awesome reality show post-governorship. We continue to mourn the loss of Sarah Palin's Alaska and ask the TV gods what we did to deserve its cancellation.
- William Howard Taft took a more dignified tack post-presidency and became a Supreme Court justice—a little show-offy, but we'll take it, we guess.
- Ulysses S. Grant wrote a hell of an autobiography in his later years in order to earn money for his estate after he'd been defrauded; the course of post-public life sometimes does not run smooth.
- Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor, jumped into a presidency following her retirement as head of Homeland Security, taking the reigns of the massive University of California system.
- Bob Dole wrote cute little books like Great Presidential Wit (...I Wish I Was in the Book) after he lost the presidency to Barack Obama. Then he thoroughly creeped out the nation by becoming a spokesman for the erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, and then went a step further, doing a Pepsi ad spoofing the Viagra ad. Madison Avenue at its finest, ladies and gentlemen!
- Evan Bayh made a big to-do when he retired from the Senate, talking about how much the grand old institution just plain old stank in an op-ed in The New York Times. After pretending he was above all the messy, dirty things in politics, Bayh became a lobbyist.
- Of course, specualtion always abounds when big office holders are on their way out, and since 2016 is only a couple short years away (or should we say, very long ones...) tounges are wagging about what President Obama will do after he has escaped the great prison of the White House. David Remnick has already clued us in to the fact that Obama will almost certainly write a presidential memoir (literary agent Andrew Wylie estimates he'll receive between $17 and $20 million for the book.) But will he start a foundation like Bill Clinton? Will he go back to some kind of activism? And what about Michelle? Some have been predicting a run for office but only time will tell. Plus, opinion-writers will need something interesting to write about when the lame duck period rolls around.
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