Having watched Obama closely, what I see in the picture is a man whose every action is ultimately governed by one factor, which is: whether he’ll be able to get up the next day and still look himself in the eye.
This is the last (and therefore, the lede) photo in the Flickr set the White House uploaded yesterday commemorating Obama’s first year in office. The caption reads:
Jan. 20, 2009 “President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.”
If his deep morality makes Obama an admirable person (especially after the egocentric, shoot-from-the-hip and profoundly amoral eight years of Bush), it seems that some of that earnestness is getting in his way. Obama’s sense of responsibility (including the responsibility to tackle everything and get “everything right”) and his idealistic quest for broad scale consensus are presenting as obstacles. In the hardball world of Washington, the greater good, or “being the change,” cannot be achieved without spilling some milk, bending some wills, picking some fights, making some enemies — and not always being so proud of yourself.
(photo: Pete Souza/White House)