June 10, 2014, 06:29 pm
In 2017, Obama wants to be ‘on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut’
By Justin Sink
President Obama seems to have already decided his first move after leaving the White House in 2017.
"I know what I'll do, like, right after the next president's inaugurated," Obama said during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by Tumblr on Tuesday. "You know, I'll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut."
On a more serious note, Obama said he and the first lady were interested in developing "institutions to promote young leadership" after leaving the White House.
"There's just huge potential. And the challenge is, they're also fed a lot of cynicism," Obama said. "You guys are fed a lot of cynicism every single day about how nothing works and big institutions stink and government's broken, and so you channel a lot of your passion and energy into various private endeavors. But this country has always been built both through an individual initiative but also a sense of some common purpose."
Obama said he worried that "the culture right now is inherently in a cynical mood," in part because of the financial crisis at the end of the George W. Bush presidency. He said young Americans were fed the notion they don't make a difference "all of the time."
"But look out on the horizon, and there's a lot of opportunity out there," Obama said. "And that's what I'd like to do after the presidency, is make sure that I help young people guard against cynicism and do the remarkable things they can do."
Obama has already looked to help nurture young minority men through the administration's "My Brother's Keeper" program.
Last month, Obama called on all members of the administration to volunteer to mentor at-risk youth. And in February, Obama announced $200 million in philanthropic commitments designed to improve child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, literacy, and school discipline reform.
The administration is also recommending public and private initiatives to increase reading time outside of school, improving access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and increasing awareness of youth summer employment opportunities.
At the time, Obama said he was "reminded that I am only here because a bunch of folks invested in me."
"We’ve got a huge number of kids out there who have as much talent, and more talent than I had, but nobody is investing in them," he continued. "And I want to make sure that I use this platform, and every Cabinet member here wants to make sure that they use the tools that they’ve got, so that these young men, young boys, know somebody cares about them, somebody is thinking about them, and that they can succeed, and making America stronger as a consequence."
But despite that work, Obama insisted Tuesday he was still focused on accomplishing as much as possible during his final two-and-a-half years in office.
"Even when I'm frustrated with Congress or I'm frustrated with the press and how it's reporting things and Washington generally, I also know that there's something I can do every single day that's helping somebody," Obama said.