Former Barack Obama White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri compared voters who want back the 44th president to homesick children, saying in a new feature that "they miss Dad."
New York Magazine published a cover story about Obama's life since Donald Trump entered the White House, with flattering prose about Obama's "impossible calm," hesitation to "wield raw power" and "empathetic approach to governing."
Obama has taken criticism from progressives for not being more stridently outspoken against Trump administration policies—many of which have rolled back or undid Obama's—given his overall popularity and elder statesman status in the Democratic Party.
Palmieri, who also served as communications director for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, likened those unhappy liberals to kids who are "homesick."
"People continue to want, to ask for, his intervention — and even be frustrated when they don’t get it," Palmieri said. "But they will be, ultimately, wrong to feel that way. Because what they want is for Barack Obama to be president, and he is not. They miss Dad, and they’re homesick, and there’s so much in the world that’s disorienting, and they want something that they love and that’s familiar. And he can never be what people ultimately want. There’s no outcome here where everyone says, ‘I miss Barack Obama, but I understand what he’s doing and I understand the choices that he’s making.'"
New York Magazine reported Obama wants to encourage a new generation of progressive leadership and not hog the spotlight, thinking that to become too public would give Trump's supporters a foe to rally against.
He has privately compared himself to The Matrix character Neo because of how much his life has slowed down since leaving office, referencing the Keanu Reeves character's ability to dodge gunfire.
Obama has not been entirely silent since leaving office. He's released statements opposing Trump's decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, criticized efforts to repeal Obamacare, and championed global engagement with an implicit shot at Trump's border policies by saying, "We can't hide behind a wall."