President Obama has taken to slipping the surly bonds of office, going out to Starbucks for a coffee, asking friends to set up late dinners with interesting, intellectually stimulating people (as opposed to the people he deals with in Washington, presumably). When he escapes, he jokes that “The bear is loose.”
Surely, Presidents deserve a break. But Obama somehow sends out a vibe that he can’t wait to leave the Presidency for good, that he is at wits’ end having to deal with the John Boehners and Mitch McConnells. (Remember his classic response to the suggestion that he sit down for a drink with McConnell: “Really? Why don’t you have a drink with Mitch McConnell?”)
Which brings us to the President who is the yin to Obama’s yang, his sometime ally and one-time antagonist and the looming figure who threatens to overshadow his Presidency – Bill Clinton.
You never thought Clinton was ready to leave the Oval Office or give up the combat, the challenges and the sheer high-stakes chaos of politics at the most stratospheric, oxygen-deprived, death-defying levels. He practically had to be dragged out of the office in 2001, spraying pardon-bombs on his way out the door.
Obama is more like George W. Bush, who seems deliriously happy to be away from the cares of office and free to pick up a golf club or paint brush.
Again, it’s understandable, but …
We want our Presidents to enjoy the job. We feel unsettled when a chief executive constantly reminds us of how difficult, lonely and miserable it can be at the top. We want to say: Stop whining! We don’t care! You wanted the job, and we gave it to you. Do it. And look like you’re enjoying it.
In a world that seems so complicated and dangerous – think Ukraine, Gaza Strip and child immigrants at the border – we feel better if we feel like the job isn’t too big for the President.
Somehow it all reminded me of the difference between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at the Open last weekend. Last week, and even back when Tiger was winning, he never seemed to be having fun. Certainly last week, but also even when Rory is losing, he seems to be having fun.
It also recalls Obama’s listless, lackluster performance at his first debate with Mitt Romney in 2012. He seemed disengaged and disinterested. And that discourages no one more than his supporters.
Go to Starbucks, Mr. President. Have a stimulating, pleasant dinner. Get away from the responsibilities every now and then. But then get back to work, and have fun. We’ll all feel a lot better.