President Obama is displaying a more emotional side of his personality as he works to sell his second-term agenda to the public.
The Spock-like Obama criticized for being aloof has been ditched in favor of a president who tells personal anecdotes about his life, shares locked-away thoughts from his past and on several occasions has wiped away a tear or two in public.
While Obama has more flexibility to be himself now because he doesn’t face reelection, the personal touches are also in tune with a White House effort to enact an agenda that includes gun control, immigration reform and anti-poverty programs by connecting directly with the public and pressuring Congress from the outside.
Speaking about gun violence last week at an academy a short walk from his Chicago home, Obama discussed the hardships of being raised by a single mother and how he wished he had a more “involved” father.
In comments directed to at-risk youth in the predominantly African-American neighborhood, he talked about his time as a “community organizer,” telling the crowd of teenagers, “I got so discouraged, I thought about giving up.”
A day earlier, in a more upbeat speech meant to highlight education as part of his State of the Union agenda, he revealed another page from inside the White House, sharing the news — or at least strongly alluding to it – that his daughters are dating.
And then there are the tears.