He had expected a comfortable retirement. But November 8 put paid to that.
President Barack Obama, who leaves the White House on January 20, believed he was in line for a simple handover, followed by two weeks of sleeping, a holiday with Michelle, and multiple games of golf.
“I think that if Hillary Clinton had won the election then I’d just turn over the keys,” he said, in an interview with The New Yorker published at the end of November.
“We’d make sure the briefing books were in order and out we go.”
But Donald Trump has changed all that.
Mr Obama’s next few years will be far more challenging that he had imagined – following his direct predecessor George W Bush into quiet retreat with his watercolours will not be an option.
The outgoing president announced before the election that he would remain in Washington, until his youngest daughter Sasha finishes school in 2019. The Obamas will live in the Kalorama neighborhood, in a Tudor-style home rented from Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, and will become the first First Family to remain in the capital since Woodrow Wilson was president.
Yet where he was once expected to take a quiet, “elder statesman” role, he is now likely to be far more involved than he had imagined – given both Mr Trump’s polemic policy agenda, and the flailing Democrat party left after Mrs Clinton’s defeat.
“As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle, or go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes,” said Mr Obama.
He said he wanted to give Mr Trump the chance to pursue his agenda “without somebody popping off” at every turn. But he suggested there may be limits to his silence.
He has also said he wants to help nurture the next generation of Democrat leaders.
“I think now I have some responsibility to at least offer my counsel to those who will continue to be elected officials about how the DNC can help rebuild, how state parties and progressive organisations can work together,” he said.
At 55, Mr Obama is one of the younger former presidents in US history – only Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant and Bill Clinton were his junior.
He is also one of the more popular.
So the Hawaii-born president has always intended to be active in his retirement – despite revenue from his book sales, plus his $203,700 (£162,798) annual pension, meaning that he can well afford not to work.
SOURCE: Harriet Alexander