Too much on his plate?

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Too much on his plate?

Is the pressure of being the most important person in the US of A beginning to be a burden on President Barack Obama? Is it time he got to let his hair down a bit and not carry the entire burden of the country on his now decidedly frail frame?

By Sudha Menon (Person of the week)

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Published: Sun 20 Jul 2014, 1:19 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:18 PM

WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT about you but every time we see a photographs of US President Barack Obama these days, we feel the burden of being the First citizen and the most important person in the US of A is weighing the man down and it is beginning to show.

You can argue that it has been over six years since he took office and that people do begin to show signs of ageing in this period but we are not talking about just the white hair on his head here. We are talking about the other stuff that begins to show the stress a person is undergoing.

We don’t know if you noticed the recent images of Obama when he visited Franklin Barbecue at Austin. We were struck by how frail the man is looking, almost gaunt. The trademark, wide, warm smile is still, thankfully, in place but the face is too drawn and the smile, somehow, does not seem to reflect in his eyes, when he reaches out to people. We are talking here about body language, particularly the fact that the once-ramrod straight posture seems to have sagged a bit, the shoulders droop and there is something about the pictures that makes you wonder if the pressure is beginning to get to him a bit.

The last few years have not exactly been a picnic in the park for the US President, what with the recession, unemployment, the fight to get his healthcare plan passed and incidents of violent gun crimes that have left the country shaken. At the risk of sounding too sentimental we think each of these incidents leave a mark on this man’s soul.

Has he had enough of it? We will never know because if what we know of him is true, then he never leaves any task incomplete so he will complete his next two years in office with the same dedication with which he has delivered in the last four years.

But there are signs that he is feeling the burden a bit more in his second term and that he wants to occasionally let off some steam and let his hair down. A few days ago he slipped past his security cordon and took a walk by himself, cutting across the White House garden on his way to work. He used to steal off with First Lady Michelle Obama in the early parts of his Presidency, to enjoy a steak but now even that seems to be history as the pressure of work has increased manifold. Playing golf in a sanitised golf course is clearly not doing it for him and that is why he prefers to escape the high-pressure political air of Washington to get out to the places where ordinary Americans live. Austin, for example, where he went specially to meet a young girl who wrote to him about the struggle her family was undergoing after her father lost his job.

We were glad to see President take some time off from the madness of politics to get himself some smoky eats at Franklin Barbecue. Yes, he did cut the line but we think if you are the President of the US of A, you should have at least some privileges and cutting a line at an eatery should certainly be one of them. The man looks like he needs some food in him anyway considering he is looking so gaunt. We would have loved to be a fly on the wall of that eatery to have seen him walk in and surprise the folks who had waited hours to get in and enjoy the famed barbecues at Franklin.

We always knew he was a generous man but he proved it once again when he bought dinner for the family in front of him at the queue and also $300 worth of barbecue for his Air Force One team. We are fairly sure that his failure to find enough cash in his wallet to pay for the big order — he later paid with his credit card — was certainly not a sign of the economic situation in the country. In fact, it humanised him even more and made him seem like ordinary mortals like us who very often are caught without cash.

And to all the people who have been venting on social sites about his cutting the line at the restaurant, we have this to say: cut him some slack. He has a lot of his mind. And on his plate.

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