What is it like to be a retired President? While many retired people struggle with purpose and even finances, most don’t have to struggle to find meaning and also the sense of having no more mountains to climb. What’s bigger than U.S. President these days? Pope?
And of course, there are only a few people who know about this problem. Eisenhower lived a decade afterwards, mostly playing golf. Kennedy never saw retirement. LBJ was too sick to do much, and his was short. Nixon lived twenty more years in relative solitidue and perhaps bitterness; Carter is the only one of his contemporaries who has lived a long post-retirement life of fulfillment. For Reagan retired and slipped right into dementia after a short hiatus. Then there’s George W. Bush and Clinton. Pretty small group, and even then things have changed since either of them first retired. Ex-Presidents are more like celebrities: asked for more appearances, autographs and quotes. They aren’t just retired gentlemen-they are brands now, with books, tapes, video, and appearances. No more retreat into a mansion to live out the rest of their lives except for the occasional funeral or dedication. selling books-more lucrative offers.
These videos are but a few of the many dozens we will see during we hope will be a long and happy retirement.
Prior to 1958, there was no pension for former Presidents-at least for being President. Which is why Grant had to write his memoirs to pay for his wife as he lay dying from throat cancer. It could be why Mrs. Wilson hesitated to let Woodrow retire after a stroke instead having him finish out his term.
While it doesn’t have to be, most former Presidents are still called “Mr. President”. not required of course. Some Presidents thought it would be more small-r republican to go back to being “Mr. Jones” or such.