Friday, March 27, 2009

Could It Really Be Him? Yeah, Probably...

He campaigned promising to change the way things were done in Washington and it's hard to argue with the fact that he has done so, especially when it comes to making himself available to the people that he represents.

Like basketball? There was Mr. Obama sitting courtside recently alongside astonished fans at the Verizon Center as he cheered on the Chicago Bulls in a losing battle against the Washington Wizards.

Enjoy the performing arts? The Obamas have been to the Kennedy Center twice, once to see the Alvin Ailey dance troupe — with daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 — and once for a musical tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

How about a tasty meal? The Obamas have enjoyed white-tablecloth dining at Equinox, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, B. Smith’s and Georgia Brown’s, and street-corner casual at Ben’s Chili Bowl and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

They have gone to parent-teacher conferences, school sporting events and visited working-class and gentrifying communities that have rarely served as stomping grounds for American presidents and first ladies — speaking to students at a charter school in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, and worshiping in a black church, among other activities. (The president and friends also tossed a basketball around at a city-run recreation center.)

“Everywhere you go, you’re wondering whether or not you’ll run into them,” said Washington’s mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, who has lunched with the president and first lady.

I've read some Republicans bemoaning the fact that Obama is so omnipresent, as if it is somehow a bad thing that a president makes himself so public, but I find it all a refreshing change from the years of Bush, who only appeared in public in front of military crowds guaranteed to cheer him.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, a presidential historian, has stated that no other American president has reached out to so many different corners of Washington.

The Obamas are now eager to explore the city beyond the White House walls.

“They want their lives not to be confined solely to the White House but rather to become a part of the urban, vibrant fabric of D.C.,” Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president and a close family friend, said in an interview.

It's not a big thing but I just happen to like it. A president who is not walled off from the people he was elected to represent.

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