Four years later

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An hour before President Obama’s second term officially begins, the dominant media meme is: he’s older and different than he was four years ago. 

David Maraniss in the Washington Post:

He comes to this term in a new place as a man and as a politician, not only forged by the experience of his mistakes but also more integrated.

Jodi Kantor in the NYT:

Up close, though, those who know the Obamas say they can see an accumulation of small shifts in the president and the first lady since they walked the inaugural parade route four years ago.

Have you ever been in a job for more than four years? Were you surprised to realize “the accumulation of small shifts” in how you did your work or that you learned from mistakes?

To what degree does this psycho-analysis predate our micro-media age, and to what degree can we attribute it to 44′s unique place in history? In 1985, did Jack Germond wonder about how 73 year-old Reagan had progressed in the job. Image

For my part, the buzz at National Airport Saturday morning, such as it was, felt more like arriving in Madison or Columbus on the eve of a big game than the emotional hajj-like scene I found at BWI four years ago. I take that not as an indictment of Obama for allowing hope to fade. Instead, I recall what the extraordinary tense few weeks that led up to that freezing Monday morning. Last night in DC there was no moment of jubilation equivalent last Inauguration-eve, when Jay Z hopped on stage to join Jeezy for My President. 

 

If circumstances had been different– if Obama had been #42 instead of #44 and oversaw the chilled out 90, if he we weren’t comparing him to the “protean” Bubba– I suspect we would not be so focussed on Obama’s level of comfort with pardoning turkeys and the degree of fervor at his basketball games.

 

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