Obama Drops Hints About Post-Presidency Life

Obama hints at public post-presidential life after the White House.

ByABC News
December 6, 2013, 4:53 PM

Dec. 6, 2013— -- John Quincy Adams once proclaimed: "There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president."

It may not be leader of the free world, but life after the U.S. presidency is hardly bleak. Many former commanders-in-chief have used their ample amount of free time to build up lucrative speaking careers, delve into philanthropic causes and even take up new hobbies -- like painting.

It's now that time in a president's second term when questions are being asked about what President Obama's second act will be. During a Nov. 26 visit to Jeffery Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale, Calif., Obama revealed he's set his sights on his dream job post-presidency.

"At least I know what I want to do when I retire ... host ESPN's SportsCenter's Top 10 List," he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

President Obama also revealed he might stay in the nation's capital after moving out of the White House, telling ABC News' Barbara Walters in an interview that they want to give youngest daughter Sasha, who will still be in high school, a voice in the decision.

"We've got to make sure that she's doing well ... until she goes off to college," the president said. "Sasha will have a big say in where we are."

One thing the Obamas told Walters they do know for sure: The president will not be seeking a future in politics.

"President Obama: Nowhere to go but up"

President Obama's decision is a common one. Returning to political office hasn't been a popular option -- only three former presidents have gained a seat in the House of Representatives, Senate or Supreme Court, and all did so before the Great Depression.

John Quincy Adams, after being defeated in the general election for a second term, successfully won a seat in the House, where he served until his death.

Andrew Johnson, the first president to ever be impeached, gained a Senate seat after he was denied the nomination for a second presidential term by his party, and lost a bid to the House.

William Howard Taft became the only former president to serve on the Supreme Court when he was appointed chief justice by Warren G. Harding in 1921.

These men were the exception, not the norm, as many presidents, including George Washington and Harry Truman, returned to their hometowns and enjoyed a life of quiet retirement (precisely the life, it seems, Quincy Adams wanted to avoid).

But there's been a major shift in that trend in the modern era, and it has changed the way we perceive our presidents. Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and author of the book "Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House," told ABC News this change came with the end of Richard Nixon's presidency.

"Richard Nixon in some respects ushered in the modern age of the post-presidency. He used his status as a former president to make himself almost a self-appointed secretary of state and he traveled the world and talked to former and current leaders and got a sense of where America stood in the world," Updegrove said.

"He burnished his legacy so that when he was memorialized 20 years after leaving the presidency in disgrace, he was remembered more as a venerable elder statesman than a disgraced former president."