Monday, December 2, 2013

Will Obama ever again actually reside in Kenwood-based house on So. Side?

I must confess – I always get amused whenever interests in Chicago try to stake a claim to their particular site as the “Future Home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum.”

Will the first family's decision really be in the hands of Sasha? Photographs provided by the White House
It’s not even a done deal that Obama himself will ever live in this city again. If that is the case, who’s to say that the future Obama Library will wind up here.

PERHAPS WE SHOULD be giving some serious consideration to the fact that the University of Hawaii is eager to have the library on its grounds – considering that the president himself was born, and largely raised, in Honolulu.

Maybe we shouldn’t take such a parochial attitude and assume that such a facility has to be built somewhere in Chicago. Heck, we can’t even agree where in the city ought to be thought of as the primary site.

The post-presidential future of Obama came in recent days when the president let it be known we shouldn’t assume he will be back in his home near the Hyde Park neighborhood right after the 2017 inauguration.

Obama and first lady Michelle may not be using Air Force One for their final flight home to Midway Airport. We don’t know where he’ll wind up.

IT SEEMS THE complicating factor is the younger daughter, Sasha, who was 7 when her family moved to Washington and started living the sheltered existence that the White House affords its residents.

The Obamas might not need final flight home
When her father ceases to be “Mr. President” and once again becomes “Dad,” she will be in her second year of high school. The first parents are concerned that having to suddenly transfer to a new school outside of Washington would be an uprooting that could cause harm.

The hints from the president are that he and Michelle may remain in the District of Columbia (Democrats generally live in D.C., while Republicans seem to prefer the D.C. suburbs in Virginia) until she’s finished with high school and ready to venture off on her own to college somewhere.

That leads to some jokes about how Sasha Obama runs the family, while others wonder if Obama just can’t let go of the Washington trappings.

SURPRISINGLY, I HAVEN’T heard many (only a few) wisecracks about how Obama doesn’t want to be put in a position where he’d have to defend himself for not returning Sasha to a spot in the Chicago Public Schools, or some sort of criticism if she wound up in the Laboratory Schools (private entities) of the University of Chicago.

Now, this could be a whole lot of talk about nothing. It may wind up that this is merely a three-year delay in Barack and Michelle returning to Chicago.

Although after more than a decade away, it may turn out that they’re not going to want to return to the streets of Hyde Park. There are times when life has to move forward, and going back (no matter how pleasant the memories) is just a mistake.

A part of me has always wondered if Obama might be thinking of a Hawaii retirement for himself and Michelle in their golden years. He gets to return home, and Michelle – the ultimate in a modern-day South Side girl – gets an exotic retirement.

DEFINITELY A LONG ways away from her early years in the South Shore neighborhood.

Could this be the future presidential library's site?
So for those people who want to bicker about whether a future presidential library is going to be built at the one-time Michael Reese Hospital site, or near the possible future Pullman National Park; on Lake Michigan at 79th Street as part of the fantasized-about Chicago Lakeside development on the old U.S. Steel/South Works plant or as part of the campuses either at the University of Illinois at Chicago or at the University of Chicago – keep this is mind.

He may already have put his Chicago time in the rear view mirror of life.


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