Obama's problem with alcohol and smoking may be symptomatic of a larger problem: he's unhappy in the role of President. A role his ego craved for years now seems to suit him ill. Pictures of Obama waving an angry finger reveal that all is not well in Obama land.
Even writers at the Washington Post have noticed:
Obama's happiness deficitOh boo hoo! Cry me a river you babies! We all said Obama and his kiddie korps couldn't handle the weight of responsibility that the White House demands!
By Fred Hiatt
Monday, March 15, 2010; A15
Here's a theory about why President Obama is having a tough political time right now: He doesn't seem all that happy being president.
I know, it's the world's hardest job, and between war and the world economy collapsing, he didn't have the first year he might have wished for. And, yes, he's damned either way: With thousands of Americans risking their lives overseas and millions losing their jobs at home, we'd slam him if he acted carefree.
Still, I think Americans want a president who seems, despite everything, to relish the challenge. They don't want to have to feel grateful to him for taking on the burden.
I started thinking about this a few weeks ago when Obama confidant David Axelrod, noting that the president always makes time for his daughters' recitals and soccer games, told the New York Times, "I think that's part of how he sustains himself through all this."
Really? Is the presidency something to sustain yourself through?
He did ask for this job; we didn't make him take it. And so it seems fair to ask: What part of it does he enjoy? Formulating rational solutions to complex problems, for sure.
But schmoozing with foreign leaders, like President George H.W. Bush? In a column last week, Jackson Diehl pointed out that Obama's relations with just about every counterpart are prickly.
It's hard to remember so far back, but the administration didn't come to town with the sense of weariness and duty that it now projects. Unlike the Bush crowd, which never stopped kvetching about having to leave Texas, the Obamas and their circle spoke about the honor of service and the excitement of being in the nation's capital.
A year later, here's how they came across to People Magazine:
"It was their first interview of the New Year on Jan. 8 in the rose-colored library on the ground floor of the White House. President Obama spoke in such a hush about the loneliness of his decisions on war and terrorism that one could hear between his words the tick of an old lighthouse clock across the room."
Do Americans really want to hear the tick of the old lighthouse clock? Or would they prefer the good cheer that we associate with FDR or JFK, the jauntiness with which they took over the White House and made it theirs?
Less lugubriousness wouldn't necessarily buy him a health-care bill. But in the long run, Americans might find it easier to root for or with Obama if he'd show us, despite everything, that he's happy we hired him.
Is it any wonder another Washington Post column suggested Obama might be better off quitting and going to the Supreme Court?