Rest and let the rest of the world go by

Published 8:05 am Thursday, April 13, 2017

I’ll have to say the Obamas seem to be having a romping good time in the immediate post-presidency phase of their lives.

Former President Barack Obama is wearing his baseball cap backward like a wild and crazy guy, which makes him look younger, and Michelle has abandoned her perfectly coiffed convention bob for a much more natural look. The couple is beaming whenever you see photographs, whether snapped on an exotic island or an ordinary walk in the park.

It has to be an amazing sensation to be leading the Free World one second, and the next to be just another Joe, an ordinary citizen. In the blink of an eye, someone else’s hand is on the big Bible and you’ve left all the heavy-lifting behind.

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Except for the pesky Secret Service detail, you quite possibly can live a normal life again. Harry Truman did.

I’ve thought often that the Clintons, in particular, could have had a lot more fun after leaving the White House. They could have lived in France, for instance, bidding “adieu” to a country that hasn’t always embraced their public service, plus getting good health care in the bargain.

There might have been post-presidential hobbies. Something other than politics. They were still young at the time and could have taken up photography or wind-surfing.

The W famously turned to painting when he was released from presidential prison. From what I’ve seen of his work, he’s at least as good an artist as was President Eisenhower, who had a Thomas Kinkade bent. Lots of thatched roofs and red barns.

Saint Jimmy Carter, of course, has set the bar high for post-presidential philanthropy. He has more energy than a new kitten, and higher morals than the Pope’s mother. When he’s not building houses, he’s writing poetry or memoirs. And there’s his expert wood-working. Idle hands and all that.

I have suggestions for all former top guns if they come up short of fun things to do. Forget memoirs and presidential libraries. Get off the speech circuit unless you need the money; speeches are never much fun for the speaker.

Hang out at the beach. Fish like Grover Cleveland. Use your sway to get good tickets for the World Series and the Masters. Invite Willie Nelson to perform at your next birthday party. Presidents come and go; Willie is forever.

Travel. By all means, travel. After his presidency, Millard Fillmore stayed in Europe for a year.

At the end of the long airplane ride there will be real entertainment, not state dinners with weird customs and strange food. You might even travel unrecognized. That will take more than wearing your cap backward.

Invest in art and other cool stuff. Go on a shopping spree and buy clothes you wouldn’t have worn as Head Honcho in Chief, T-shirts that say things like “I Fought the Lawn, and the Lawn Won.” For that matter, cut your own grass.

Throw away your TV. Pay no attention to current events. Don’t answer the telephone, much less carry one around with you. Get unplugged, as they say.

Adopt a pound dog. Now that you’re not constantly on camera, you can foster as many mutts as you want and not worry about their publicity potential. Nothing says post-presidency like a part schnauzer, part bloodhound.

Roll over in your hammock and cuss the next president, just like the rest of us.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a Mississippi resident and a syndicated columnist. You may contact her at