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July 15, 2014

NYT: Obama Finds Solace in Late Night Dinners with Celebrities and Italian Intellectuals
WSJ: Obama Finds Solace in Escaping His "Cage" and Talkin' With Common Folk

Neither story reports that Obama finds solace in doing his job.

The New York Times reports -- months after others, including Matt Continetti, wrote about it -- on Obama's conversations with Interesting Italians.

Over the next 24 hours, the startled Mr. Phillips and his wife, the former Obama aide Linda Douglass, scrambled to gather some of Italy’s intellettuali [at the request of Obama, who asked him to arrange a dinner party].

The architect Renzo Piano flew in from Genoa. The particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti arrived from Geneva. John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat and an owner of the Italian soccer club Juventus, came, too, as did his sister, Ginevra, a film director. Over a 2006 Brunello, grilled rib-eye and three pasta dishes -- cacio e pepe, all’arrabbiata and Bolognese — at Villa Taverna, the 15th-century manor that serves as the ambassador’s residence, the group talked until close to midnight about "the importance of understanding science, the future of the universe, how sports brings people together, and many other things," Ms. Douglass said.

In a summer when the president is traveling across the country meeting with ordinary Americans under highly choreographed conditions, the Rome dinner shows another side of Mr. Obama.

Yes, another aspect of his aversion to work.

As one of an increasing number of late-night dinners in his second term, it offers a glimpse into a president who prefers intellectuals to politicians, and into the rarefied company Mr. Obama may keep after he leaves the White House.

Sometimes stretching into the small hours of the morning, the dinners reflect a restless president weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying with the rich and celebrated. Freewheeling, with conversation touching on art, architecture and literature, the gatherings are a world away from the stilted meals Mr. Obama had last year with Senate Republican leaders at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

...

In Paris, the president was up again until nearly midnight enjoying, among other things, Drappier Champagne.

"Bonsoir," Mr. Obama said as he entered the small Restaurant Helen, according to Frédéric Pescatori, an investment manager who was dining next to the president’s party.

The whole article is worth a read, and I omitted Valerie Jarrett's defense of his behavior to give you something to click on. Yeah it's the New York Times, but it's a good piece. (And you can see they're kinda roasting Obama here.)

But Obama is complex man with many dimensions, and relaxing with the European cognescetti is not his only preferred pastime. He also enjoys pretending to relax in the company of Americans.

With his legislative agenda stalled and his approval ratings at new lows, President Barack Obama has been spending more time in recent weeks away from the White House, traveling the country and cultivating the image of a pool-shooting, beer-drinking regular guy.

Funny, he didn't come off as a pool-shooting, beer-drinking regular guy at the Italian villa or the Paris restaurant.

And oddly enough, the official White House photopropagandist was not on hand to document his tony soirées.

But when he's at Chipotle, it's click-click-click.



Midway through his second term, a six-year itch has set in as Mr. Obama increasingly has been talking about gridlock on Capitol Hill and the confines of the White House. His advisers say the president has "cabin fever," and that he simply wants to be able to go for a walk.

The antidote has been a series of choreographed outings--among them eating a burrito bowl at Chipotle and picking up barbecue in Austin, Texas--aimed at connecting Mr. Obama with average Americans.

The outreach comes as Mr. Obama's hope of passing any of his major legislative initiatives has faded. Against that backdrop, field trips could serve a dual purpose: boosting Mr. Obama's spirits and potentially his popularity.

I think it's mostly about boosting his spirits.

This is weird. I have always given a slight bit of credence -- perhaps more than I should -- to those claims that Obama was a depressive and had psychological problems. But I keep seeing evidence to support those claims.

It is weird when the president -- the President, for crying out loud! -- decides that the last two years of his term will be spent on what he calls The YOLO Doctrine.

The strategy has the potential to backfire, though. Republicans have argued that he should be focused on a set of escalating foreign challenges and on immigration issues--not on fun excursions. GOP lawmakers and even some Democrats criticized the president for traveling to Texas last week but not going to the border.

Several years ago, I was fond of making a crazy prediction: That Obama simply would not run for president in 2012. Not because of scandal, but because he has no heart, no grit, and is shocked and depressed to find out, in his first real full-time job, that work is hard and not nearly as fun as getting applause at massive torchlight Volkrallies.

My prediction was wrong but it seems the underlying premise was accurate. Obama did bother to run for president in 2012, but he apparently decided in 2013 that he was just going to be takin' it easy and enjoyin' himself the rest of the way.


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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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