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Obama laments: 'I miss being anonymous'

The president says he longs for the days when he could go out in public unnoticed and chalks his frequent golf games up to a desire to break out of the White House 'bubble.'

April 11, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — President Obama longs for the days when he could sneak out to the grocery store unnoticed, and chalks his frequent golf games up to his yearning to break outside the White House "bubble."

"I just miss — I miss being anonymous," Obama said in a conversation with Hearst magazine executives at the White House last week, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks."

"I can't take a walk," he said.

Since his swearing-in, Obama has regularly and publicly lamented the constraints of his office, and made some effort to break out from the insular presidency.

To stay in touch with friends outside the Beltway (but also close aides), he keeps a BlackBerry on his hip. He also often refers to the 10 letters he reads each day from ordinary Americans to get unvarnished thoughts about the issues they face.

One of those letters was sent by Shalini Schane of Longmont, Colo., who wrote Obama expressing her concern that a government shutdown could threaten her son's planned trip to the nation's capital.

The president surprised Schane's son's class at the White House on Monday, after referring to her letter in his speech late Friday after a deal was reached.

And then there is the golf course. In the Hearst session, Obama linked his oft-criticized fondness for golf with that same desire for some free time.

"It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch," he said.

Obama shot 18 holes just this last Sunday, the second full day after he was involved in intense negotiations over the federal budget for fiscal year 2011.

It was his 63rd golf outing as president, according to records maintained by CBS News' Mark Knoller, and his 25th at Joint Base Andrews.

Obama offered another activity he might prefer.

"I just want to go through Central Park [in New York] and watch folks passing by," he said. "Spend the whole day watching people. I miss that."

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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