As they reap the benefits of their outsize earning power, ex-presidents are expected to channel some of the cash flow they attract toward meaningful philanthropic projects. "I think most of us have pursued the causes that have occupied us most when we were in the White House," says former president Jimmy Carter. Philanthropy is also where ex-presidents seek to redeem themselves from in-office blunders. After the Clinton administration let genocide and famine go unchecked in Rwanda and Somalia, for example, the Clinton Foundation brought Bill back to the region with billions of dollars in aid. And the Clinton Global Initiative sometimes seems to overshadow the U.N. with its high-profile world-saving missions, projected to total nearly $70 billion so far.
If he loses reelection, the rap on Obama will be that he failed to revive a floundering economy. A "Yes We Can Foundation" could help redefine how Americans remember him-but it's unclear what tack he would take. His personal passions are hard to pinpoint, perhaps because he has spent so much of his term putting out fires, like the debt-ceiling debacle. When it comes to pet causes, observers are mostly left guessing: Carter thinks Obama might focus his attention on improving American relations in Asia. Beschloss envisions a more domestic agenda. "One could easily imagine him starting a foundation or institute that might address health care," he says.
Annual earnings: $0
Likelihood: High (once he figures out a cause)