Obama Maybe No `Life of the Party,’ President Says, It’s Business Time

Photograph by Pete Souza/The White House

U.S. President Barack Obama working in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

President Barack Obama was asked today about some persisting criticism:

The “truism” about him being too insular, not socializing enough on Capitol Hill.

The diversity of the second-term Cabinet taking shape, the first big appointments all going to men.

“I’m very proud that in the first four years we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and Cabinet than any in history,” he replied to the question at the final press conference of his first term.“I intend to continue that.”

When you look for the best, he said, you will find that it is a diverse team.

“If you think about the first four years, the person who probably had the most impact on my foreign policy was a woman,” he said, alluding to retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Sen. John Kerry will replace her). The people who pressed for his health-care agenda were women, he said. His two appointees to the Supreme Court are women, and 50 percent of his White House staff were women.

“I would just suggest that everybody… wait until they have seen all my appointments,” he said, “before they rush to judgment.”

“We’re not going backwards,” he said. “We’re going forward.”

“With respect to me not socializing enough and not patting people on the back,” he said, “I’m a pretty friendly guy, and I like a good party.”

“I think really what’s gone on with some of the paralysis in Washington… just has to do with some really stark differences in policy,” he said.

“I like Speaker Boehner personally, and when we went out and played golf in 2011, we had a great time, but that didn’t get a deal done,” the president said of House Speaker John Boehner. Obama hosted a nice congressional picnic at the White House, he said, “but it doesn’t prevent them from going on the floor of the House and blasting me for being a big-spending socialist.”

“Now that my girls are getting older, they don’t want to spend that much time with me anyway,” the president joked. “So I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house.”

The bottom line, he said, is that business has to get done — this time, raising the debt ceiling.

“That’ll be true,” he said, “whether I’m the life of the party or a stick in the mud.”

 

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