Mr. Obama is not a politician who uses circumstances and relationships to cajole. He is not one to say, “Let’s have a couple of drinks and hash this out.” He does not confuse his work friends with his real friends. He jealously guards his time with his wife and daughters and the tight circle of intimates like Eric Whitaker and Martin Nesbitt from Chicago, who are with him [on vacation in Hawaii]. And he is perfectly content to leave his public persona at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and slip, however briefly, into private life.Two issues here, it seems to me. Protecting time with his family and being intentional about vacations make obvious sense. But it's naive and even reckless to act as though political friendships aren't "real" or that policy and political solutions aren't sometimes, indeed often, encountered in the crucible of relationships. There seems to be some evidence here for his critics' contention that Obama still thinks he can persuade people to his point of view by sheer logic, by his impossible-to-resist rightness -- just like the last president who was too good for Washington, the one-term Jimmy Carter.
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