The Toll on Barack and Michelle Obama
It’s a rotten job but somebody’s gotta do it?
Trouble is, that’s true.
When the president returned from consoling families of teachers and children killed in the Newtown, Conn., massacre — he wept as they handed him photos and told him stories of victim after victim — aides could see in his face the toll of absorbing the nation’s traumas. “This is what I do,” Mr. Obama told them.
“This position has perhaps cost him more on a personal, and even energic, level than most of his predecessors, because he was most entirely an outsider,” observed the playwright Tony Kushner, a supporter who recently dined with Mr. Obama to discuss the film “Lincoln,” for which Mr. Kushner wrote the screenplay.
The Obamas have gained and lost in their four years in the White House, becoming seasoned professionals instead of newcomers, more conventional, with a contracted sense of possibility. They are steady characters, not given to serial self-reinvention. Yet in interviews, current and former White House and campaign aides, donors and friends from Chicago said they could see how the president and the first lady had been affected by their roles.
Describing them, they used phrases like: more confident but more scarred. More isolated. …NYT
They aren’t as guarded as they were at the start. But it’s been tough going. It is for any president, but this president has been forced to withstand an enormous — and outlandish — amount of sheer hatred and aggression.
Then, when there’s tragedy, as there was at Sandy Hook, he really feels it.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama were supposed to spend the evening of Dec. 16 enjoying their daughter Sasha’s “Nutcracker” recital. Instead, the president was making condolence calls in cordoned-off rooms at Newtown High School.
“Words don’t exist” to describe the grief on his face as he approached the families, said Sarah D’Avino, whose sister Rachel died protecting her students. The president asked each family to describe the relative who died, paying special attention to the victims’ mothers. ...NYT