Life after politics

Aristotle saw pleasure, honor and virtue as significant «wants» for people, but argued that virtue is the most important of these. He wrote that politicians can’t enjoy free time because they put power and glory above all else. But the aphrodisiac is too strong to resist when it’s time to step down. Confirming the rule, Tony Blair has sought a life after politics that combines a decent income with a continuation of his political legacy. He is not the first. Bill Clinton’s lectures have gained him $40 million in six years. But only a tiny 20 percent of that money ends up in the bank account of the former US president. The rest goes to the Clinton Foundation for the fight against poverty, AIDS and other scourges. From the military humanitarianism practiced in Somalia and Kosovo to the peaceful humanitarianism of the NGOs – politics as the continuation of war by other means. With a 250,000-euro annual income from NPEG, a natural gas consortium, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder ranks lower on the tables. Working for Moscow was unacceptable, critics said. But Schroeder saw his new job as a continuation of his efforts to protect German interests by building an energy bridge between Berlin and Moscow (which so upset the Poles). Life was tougher for Mikhail Gorbachev, who was forced to shoot a Pizza Hut commercial. But pizza is a particular kind of food, Gorbachev said back then. «It’s not only consumption, it’s also socializing,» he said in a rather elastic interpretation of Marxism. As for Blair, it seems that neither money nor philanthropy will do. Like actors who almost die on stage, he has gone for a political role. This may raise many an eyebrow but since Mahmoud Abbas has no problem, what are we to say?

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