President Barack Obama used to be concerned that partying with celebrities and taking lavish golfing trips while Americans were suffering and struggling to find jobs would make him look out of touch.
He reportedly doesn’t care anymore.
In fact, he may care more about spending time with Anna Wintour, Alonzo Mourning, celebrities, and historians than going to his intelligence briefings and meeting with Members of Congress, especially those in his own party, to work on legislation.
Perhaps Donald Trump was right — Obama may no longer love being president.
According to a Politico report, “there was a time in the first term when aides fretted over elaborate state dinners and how a glitzy Halloween party for the children of military service members, featuring actor Johnny Depp and movie director Tim Burton, would play with jobless Americans.”
In their second term, the Obamas are reportedly “less concerned about the optics of mingling with boldfaced names, and seem to want to take advantage of the presidential perch.” That includes “hosting star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight and inviting a few newcomers such as former NBA star Alonzo Mourning into his social sphere”:
The guests don’t appear on the public visitor logs because they are considered “purely personal” visits. Multiple White House aides claimed not to know about them. Valerie Jarrett, the senior adviser and longtime confidant of the Obamas who organizes the dinners, appears to be the only regular from the West Wing.
The late-night dinners don’t have an agenda. The protocol is that Obama has to leave first, participants say, but he seems to never want them to end. The bull sessions satisfy the president’s intellectual curiosity as he indulges in nuanced conversations about life, ideas and art.
When donors try to talk about policy to Obama, he reportedly has been “quick to steer conversations away from policy and toward sports, particularly the NBA playoffs, which he follows obsessively.”
Even when he is abroad, Obama wants to get away from the prose of governance.
When Obama visited Pope Francis in March, he and seven others dined for four hours after, according to Politico, Obama “had asked his hosts to put together a dinner of ‘interesting Italians’ — included renowned architect Renzo Piano, particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti, Fiat heir John Elkann and his sister, Ginevra.”
“He wanted to spend one evening talking about what is quite interesting in this country to talk about — art, science, community, architecture, cities and all that,” Piano told the outlet. “It was a very calm evening, a quite long dinner.” Obama has also invited historians such as “Douglas Brinkley, Robert Caro, Michael Beschloss, Robert Dallek and Kenneth Mack” to the White House to discuss presidents and make it obvious he cares about his legacy.
He has even talked to Mourning about his post-presidential life and the “landscape of nonprofits that deal” with issues Obama cares about. And he is spending even more time on the golf course. He has spent 16 more days on the course than he had all of last year, according to White House records.
But Politico notes that Obama’s “recent attempts at social engagement still don’t extend to the one constituency that could be most helpful to his agenda: Congress.” When his critics previously accused him of not socializing as much with legislators, Obama said he would rather spend more time at home with his daughters.
His daughters are around less now and Obama may be suffering from “the early onset of empty nest syndrome,” according to the report. But instead of meeting with Democrats and Republicans to find solutions to bridge “red America” and “blue America,” Obama is intent on using his perch in the White House to throw himself the best dinner parties and collect new friends.