Obama told NPR last month, “What I really want right now is to get a debt-ceiling deal for my birthday.” His birthday wish came true — but only at the last possible moment, after months of resistance from certain GOP lawmakers with a "my way or the highway" approach to governing. Rather than employ the same brinkmanship over every issue, the president would surely appreciate the gift of not treating "compromise" like a dirty word.
Captions by Cynthia Gordy
Obama celebrated a little early — his birthday is Aug. 4 — at a glitzy Aug. 3 campaign fundraiser at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom. With rumors that fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson was booked to perform, and reports of admission charges up to $35,800 per couple, he'll rake in a bundle for 2012 — but an extra donation from his pal Ms. Winfrey would make turning 50 even better.
In the aftermath of the debt-ceiling standoff, the president's overall approval rating sank to an all-time low of 42 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll. As the official White House mouthpiece charged with putting a positive spin on all things Obama, Press Secretary Jay Carney can potentially give a boost to put him over the top.
Speaking recently about his eldest daughter, Malia, who turned 13 last month, the president outlined the kind of auto he wants for her once she hits driving age. "I am hoping to see one of those models that gets a top speed of 15 miles per hour and the ejector seat any time boys are in the car," he joked. The White House Secret Service agents, who know a thing or two about being overly protective, are the right people to chip in for this group gift.
The Justice Department is already looking into the rash of restrictive state voter laws around the country at the urging of congressional Democrats who say that they will disenfranchise voters — especially young voters and racial minorities — come Election Day. With elections often swinging on the thinnest of margins, not to mention the bump Obama got in 2008 from surge youth and minority voters, it would be a happy birthday for him indeed if the attorney general overturned the laws.
The vice president has a rep for joking about things that the president doesn't find particularly humorous — like when he awkwardly poked fun at Supreme Court Justice John Roberts' flubbing of the oath of office at Obama's inauguration. So an elegantly framed copy of the president's long-form birth certificate, to commemorate that day 50 years ago (yes, in Hawaii), sounds right up Biden's alley. Luckily, if his classic roast of Donald Trump earlier this year is any indication, the president will be laughing, too.
If we're following protocol here, federal gift rules stipulate that gifts to the president be valued at $20 or less. In that case, longtime friend and White House senior adviser Jarrett may want to fire up her boss's iPod with the songs of A Woman Falling Out of Love, the latest album from Aretha Franklin. After all, the soul legend, who performed at his inauguration ceremony, is one of Obama's favorites.
The July 2011 employment report comes out soon — a perfect opportunity for Obama's Council of Economic Advisers chairman to make the big 5-0 special. After the dismal numbers Goolsbee delivered last month (slowed-down hiring and a rise in national unemployment to 9.2 percent), you can bet that the president wants nothing better than something positive to report.
Obama has repeatedly urged Congress for bills on his desk, before the end of the year, to reform No Child Left Behind and the immigration system. More recently he's reiterated a desire for job-focused bills around infrastructure, the patenting process for new products, and advancing trade agreements in Asia and South America. There's no better time than the man's birthday to make it happen.
Reflecting on aging, and at an even faster rate since taking office, President Obama has said, "Malia and Sasha say it makes me look distinguished. Michelle says it makes me look old." To help her husband celebrate 50 in style, we recommend that the first lady nudge him to cover up that premature gray with a handy box of Just for Men.