Remember when candidate Barack Obama told Americans he did not run for president "to help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street?"
Eight years after Obama made those remarks, he seems to have no qualms accepting $400,000 from Wall Street for an upcoming speech at a conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald LP.
The Washington Post's Aaron Blake is imploring him to rethink his decision. In addition to appearing like a hypocrite, the editors point out that if Obama accepts the money it will be poor optics for the Democratic Party - the last thing a defeated and divided party needs right now.
This whole thing comes at a somewhat inauspicious time for the Democratic Party: Just as Democrats' true identity is in flux, as Sanders's anti-Wall Street message seems to be ascendant, and as President Trump at times co-opted that message in the 2016 election.
That brand of populism clearly has very broad appeal, and now Democrats are being put in the position of deciding whether their former president should take $400,000 from Wall Street for a speech. At the least, it risks suggesting the party's anti-Wall Street posture is in some cases just that — posturing.
Blake also points out that Wall Street baggage was one of Hillary Clinton's weaknesses during her 2016 campaign. Because she had accepted thousands of dollars from Wall Street, she drew snickers from opponent Bernie Sanders and debate audiences whenever she claimed to be Wall Street's biggest nightmare.
The Democrats are still seeking leadership, and their first legislative gain, since Donald Trump's victory.