April 7th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
14 years ago

The selling of the ex-presidency

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/07/ex.presidents/art.pres.gi.jpg caption=" Ex-presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have stayed in the public eye since leaving office."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Shortly before leaving the White House in 1829, John Quincy Adams reportedly said, "There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president."

If he had had a crystal ball, Adams might have tweaked that statement to say there is nothing more lucrative in life than to be a former president.

Last Friday, we learned that the Clintons have made a whopping $109 million since 2001. Bill Clinton has brought in almost $52 million from speeches generally going for $250,000 a pop.

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Filed under: Politics
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. GnosticMan

    The former most powerful man in America should exercise capitolistic fortitude by getting rich! Hell we should pay them more!

    April 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Ohiobo, Joseph From Vancouver Canada

    President Clinton is belove around the world. I have bought their books. He is smart, likeable, world stateman, and a very successful person. His foundation is doing a lot for AIDS in Africa. They paid their taxes, they gave a huge amount to charity. I sincerely don't see any thing wrong with the amount of money they have made.
    They have contributed far more than overpaid sports' stars, they have done far more than most over paid CEO, and they have done far more than most overpaid journalists and commedians. You people should give it a rest. Most rich people do not pay a fraction of the percentage taxes that the Clintons paid.
    Hillary will be a fantastic president should she the Democrats have the backbone to nominate her otherwise there will be President John McCain come January 2009.

    April 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. NObama

    Adams is absolutely wrong, and there is one thing more lucrative in life than to be a former president – being an oil executive or CEO of Wall Street firms who typicall earn several hundred million in ONE year.

    April 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Political Jonze

    He wasn't selling his ex-Presidency, he was selling Hillary's future presidency. Nobody was paying him $10M for speaking engagements seven years out of office. I wonder if the Clinton Library donations come with the same caveat the big money donations to the DNC seemingly came with – Deliver what we want or you have to give the money back.

    April 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Caryn, DC

    It's good to know that Hillary and Bill have such a keen understanding of the average Joe. They know how to exploit him to fatten their own pockets.

    Hillary you will NEVER be president.

    April 7, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. aware

    The presidency is an extremely taxing job. There is no glamour in it -just a tremendous weight of responsibility and accountability. Ex-presidents need to be respected and to be able to continue to make valuable contributions. If they contribute a percentage of their post-presidential earnings and their time to charity, they should be applauded! 🙂

    April 7, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Emma

    Good for Bill he was a good president , very smart and very much in demand as a speaker. None of the canidates running for president are paupers. I am not jelious of anyone's wealth .I just thank God for what I have.Bill needs something to do with his time an if he can be productive that is a blessing.

    April 7, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Tom

    It's all about money. $250K a pop? I'd do it for half that... 🙂

    Look at McCain's financial situation – his wife is worth millions, but he can't claim any of it – it's all in her name. He gets a pension and his congressional salary, and that's it.

    He has the highest standards of integrity I've seen in a long time from ANYONE in Washington, on both sides of the isle.

    April 7, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Sue from Ga.

    At least the former presidents had dignity. Bil Clinton has absolutely none, disgraced his office and is rewarded for it. How sick is that!

    April 7, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Roy

    Bill Clinton was a great President in my opinion! Look what we have now! If we don't look out we will have another 4 years of a Rep in office. There is only one person who can win the electorial college from McCain and that is Hillary Clinton.

    April 7, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Alexa

    Never realized how much money former Presidents can make! Interesting to see how much money people are actually willing to pay to attend a speech!

    April 7, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. bill in florida

    Add it to the long list of things that Bill Clinton is better at than any other president. Try selling tickets to a "W" speech in a year..

    April 7, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Obviously Bill Clinton Can Run A Budget!

    And, he proved it as President of this country as well as in his personal life.

    And, the Clintons put their money where their mouths are in giving $10.2 million to charity.

    The Clinton Foundation has also done many great things for many people here at home and around the world.

    Bless Bill and Hillary Clinton!

    April 7, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Bob, Phoenix

    In the case of Carter, you would only buy them to laugh at, as well. Moron as a president; senile moron, now.

    April 7, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Reality check #1

    And?? I am glad that the Clintons are successful, I would not want an ex President who is not , nor would I want a Presidential nominee that can not show a profitable and successful life. Who wants a leader who can show you how to become poor? The Clintons have made alot of money, they have paid alot of taxes and they have given alot to charity. I am proud of them both. If the Obama's had been as successful, I doubt we would be reading about it on a CNN ticker.

    April 7, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Alston

    51 MILL. from only speeches?!??!

    Yeah right..

    April 7, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Photon Torpedo

    I don't see what the big deal is all about. There is a life after the presidency, lucrative or not, for some if they choose it.

    Yes We Can & Yes We Should!
    Obama 08'

    Photon Torpedo
    Dallas, TX

    April 7, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Lin

    Everyone (including ex-Presidents) has the right to make a living! It's not like we've been held up by gunpoint to buy anything they are selling. At least Bill Clinton has something to write about!

    April 7, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. Eileen from Portland, Maine

    And Hillary has said 'words dont' matter' and 'talk is cheap'. I guess it depends on who is doing the speaking!

    April 7, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Grant Devereaux

    People do not pay $250,000 to hear a former president speak. The reality is, you cannot shut Bill Clinton up. The Dinner speech for a quarter million dollars is about payback, or pay it forward. People expect something for that kind of money. This all makes me ill!

    April 7, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Neal Garrett

    Thanks for the interesting facts on ex-presidents.

    Ultimately, I agree with the ex-pres pension. Considering there's really not much in the way of career advancement after you've became a president of the United States, it only makes sense to give them a generous retirement fund. We wouldn't want our ex-presidents showing up on the cover of the enquirer going through hard times. That would leave an impression that we don't take care of those that have served us. A president has to endure enourmous stresses while in office. Try putting yourself in their shoes and make one world decision. In doing so, try not to press the red button. Try to consider all of the factors and know that whichever decision you make, there are going to be people upset with your decision. Imagine having that stress on your sholders for 4 or even 8 years. Whether we like their performance or not, the american people voted them into the most stressful job in the world. Let's let them live out their remaining days as free from stress as humanly possible.

    April 7, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. HSNP

    Bill Clinton made less than $30K per year during his entire tenure as Governor of Arkansas. The Clintons had NO MONEY. His family certainly wasn't wealthy. Bill & Hillary Clinton didn't even own a home of their own while they lived in Arkansas, not even a lake weekender.

    So, anybody (Rev. Wright) who thinks that the Clinton's grew up priviledged are just dead wrong.

    Bill Clinton is just smarter than most. He grew up with nothing but his own brains, won the Presidency twice, then went on to make his fortune. So What?

    George W. Bush grew up rich, failed at business, cheated to win the Presidency twice, and hopefully will go back to Texas and never be heard from again!

    April 7, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. Better idea

    Why don't Hillary and his followers argue for a presidential appointment system in which a former president choose our next president, like what Putin did in Russia or Castero did in Cuba. One more requirement though- it's better to ask the former former president, I mean Bill, to make the call. Would that be more ideal than choosing several "large" states to vote?

    April 7, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. jose

    hey look it's the three stooges,ha ha ha....

    April 7, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Neal Garrett

    As for the speeches, books, and other royalties related to thier lives.. America is a land of free market. If and when the american people lose interested in reading, hearing, or seeing what an ex-president has to say, they'll quit paying for it.

    God bless America! Land of the FREE!!! + tax
    except where probibited by law.

    April 7, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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