President Obama's recent outreach to the business community hasn't only been about short-term policy. According to The New York Times, Obama's also starting to line up donors for his presidential library.
The Times' Jason Horowitz reports that wrangling over the library, the brick-and-mortar representation of the president's legacy, is already in full swing, with at least one staffer, Alyssa Mastromonaco, having begun work on the project even before the president's reelection. As the story points out, a presidential library is a boon to the city in which it ends up, offering short- and long-term economic benefits and, of course, prestige. Wrangling over Obama's library appears to be centered on Chicago, as you'd expect; George W. Bush's library is at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Bill Clinton's is in Little Rock.
But Horowitz also makes clear that the library is itself a sort of mini-campaign, with internal staff bickering — a library offers prestigious long-term employment for loyalists, too — and on-going fundraising requirements.
Which may explain some (but probably not much) of Obama's recent outreach to the business community. Horowitz writes:
Previous campaign supporters who have recently met with Mr. Obama said he had in no way solicited contributions. But they also noted that he has increased his outreach. The president has shown more “good will” to the business community, said Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group, who met with him in the Oval Office in August. Chicago financiers have also appeared recently on Mr. Obama’s radar.
The Wire noted Obama's increased engagement with business last month, which at the time was focused on bolstering support for short-term government initiatives that faced opposition from the far-right edge of the Republican Party. Other outreach, however, appears to be focused on 2017 more than 2014. "On a recent Friday evening," Horowitz writes, Obama hosted Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel and a number of big-ticket donors form his past campaigns. No donation solicitation was made, but some "insiders" saw the dinner as a way "to soften up big targets for an eventual ask."
Obama has long been ambivalent about the tedious work of glad-handing donors. Last August, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer reported that wealthy givers were frustrated by Obama's standoffishness. Instead of that sort of schmoozing coming to an end with his successful reelection, it appears that it will occupy "some small sliver of bandwidth" of the rest of his presidency, in Horowitz's phrasing — and some larger sliver of the rest of his life.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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