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Opening Arguments

Not cool

What odd, odd observations:

The interviews, which illuminate Obama’s thinking, outlook and choices as he navigates his second term, suggest a paradox. Often stymied at home and abroad, Obama recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency — a reality that has left him deeply frustrated at times. Last week was a case study, with the Veterans Affairs scandal and resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki eclipsing Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan and major foreign policy speech at West Point.

Yet his newfound realism has also given him a palpable sense of liberation.

The president, finally, is much freer to talk about things that matter to him. He discusses issues of race in a far more personal way, more frequently, than he ever did in his first term. He is more prone to speak his mind on contentious social issues, to the point of volunteering that, in his younger days, “I got high’’ — an unusually blunt take on his past that aides say they would have prevented before his reelection, fearful of how his critics would use the sound bite.

[. . .]

Obama is giving more thought to his post-presidency than his aides like to suggest. He has spoken privately of his intention to establish a foundation with the reach and influence of the Clinton Global Initiative, the international fundraising juggernaut started by former President Bill Clinton. And despite his deep connections to Chicago, he has told friends he would like to live in New York City.

As one observer put it, "Obama feeling liberated by his growin irrelevance." As another said: "It's like he's already gone." He seemed bored by the job even when things were going well, though. How do you like cool now?