Obama says it feels ‘pretty good not to be president any more
President Obama says he is enjoying life after the Oval
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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 grueling job. Five hours of sleep for eight
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
More from President Obama’s talk on Wednesday.