"The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff. ... I'm like, 'C'mon guys, I'm the president of the United States. Where's the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up?' It doesn't happen."
--President Barack H. Obama
The list of people I feel sorry for is long. It includes not just all of the people I know personally who are suffering from one misfortune or another, but the billions around the world who're having a rougher time than they ought: Japanese earthquake victims, targets of ethnic cleansing, etc. Then there's the supplemental list, which includes everyone from fans of "Lost" who were ripped off by the series finale to the guy in the middle seat on a long flight.
But one guy who doesn't make the list is Barack Obama.
And yet the president seems eager for people to know he feels aggrieved. All of sudden, he's had a few "hot mic" incidents in which he "accidentally" vented his displeasure about various alleged insults. His staff let it be known that the president feels the head of China's one-party authoritarian regime has it better than him, because no one second-guesses Hu Jintao.
"I just miss -- I miss being anonymous," he told some magazine executives recently. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls ... taking walks. I can't take a walk." He says the reason he plays so much golf is that it's the only way he can get away from the "bubble" he's in.
None of this is entirely new. The president has always had a gift for self-pity. And blame-shifting. "It's Bush's fault" could be the subtitle of his presidency.
And from the outset, the president has had little patience with critics. Serious critiques are always illegitimate "talking points." In the summer of '09 he started insisting that he didn't want to hear "a lot of talking" from Republicans. The time for debate always seems to over when it's clear to everyone he's losing the argument. When abroad, he loves to whine about the impertinence of the press.
I can't prove it, but I'm also hardly alone (on the right or the left) in thinking the president really just doesn't like the job anymore. He's testier. His response to the Republican budget plan was not merely dishonest, hypocritical and partisan, it was bitterly personal.