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Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone

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giga

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Oct 28, 2006
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Lots of great little anecdotes in this piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/us/politics/obama-after-dark-the-precious-hours-alone.html

WASHINGTON — “Are you up?”

The emails arrive late, often after 1 a.m., tapped out on a secure BlackBerry from an email address known only to a few. The weary recipients know that once again, the boss has not yet gone to bed.

…

Last month it was a 12:30 a.m. email to Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, and Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, telling them he had finished reworking a speechwriter’s draft of presidential remarks for later that morning. Mr. Obama had spent three hours scrawling in longhand on a yellow legal pad an angry condemnation of Donald J. Trump’s response to the attack in Orlando, Fla., and told his aides they could pick up his rewrite at the White House usher’s office when they came in for work.

Mr. Obama calls himself a “night guy,” and as president, he has come to consider the long, solitary hours after dark as essential as his time in the Oval Office. Almost every night that he is in the White House, Mr. Obama has dinner at 6:30 with his wife and daughters and then withdraws to the Treaty Room, his private office down the hall from his bedroom on the second floor of the White House residence.

There, his closest aides say, he spends four or five hours largely by himself.



Some tidbits:

President George W. Bush, an early riser, was in bed by 10. President Bill Clinton was up late like Mr. Obama, but he spent the time in lengthy, freewheeling phone conversations with friends and political allies, forcing aides to scan the White House phone logs in the mornings to keep track of whom the president might have called the night before.

“A lot of times, for some of our presidential leaders, the energy they need comes from contact with other people,” said the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has had dinner with Mr. Obama several times in the past seven and a half years. “He seems to be somebody who is at home with himself.”

To stay awake, the president does not turn to caffeine. He rarely drinks coffee or tea, and more often has a bottle of water next to him than a soda. His friends say his only snack at night is seven lightly salted almonds.

“Michelle and I would always joke: Not six. Not eight,” Mr. Kass said. “Always seven almonds.”

Michelle Obama occasionally pops in, but she goes to bed before the president, who is up so late he barely gets five hours of sleep a night. For Mr. Obama, the time alone has become more important.

In 2009, Jon Favreau, Mr. Keenan’s predecessor, gave the president a draft of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech the night before they were scheduled to leave for the ceremony in Oslo. Mr. Obama stayed up until 4 a.m. revising the speech, and handed Mr. Favreau 11 handwritten pages later that morning.

The president also uses the time to catch up on the news, skimming The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on his iPad or watching cable. Mr. Love recalls getting an email after 1 a.m. after Mr. Obama saw a television report about students whose “bucket list” included meeting the president. Why had he not met them, the president asked Mr. Love.

Mr. Obama and his wife are also fans of cable dramas like “Boardwalk Empire,” “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad.” On Friday nights — movie night at the White House — Mr. Obama and his family are often in the Family Theater, a 40-seat screening room on the first floor of the East Wing, watching first-run films they have chosen and had delivered from the Motion Picture Association of America.
 

GreatestHits

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Jun 30, 2013
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Gee he tries to wind down. Huge surprise. I'd rather not know so much. And we still don't

Also, almonds are loaded with nutritious fat, he's simply following research there, and cutting himself off
 

PeskyToaster

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Dec 5, 2012
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He is procrastinating. I see all the signs. Stays up super late, reads a bunch of stuff online, turns in 11 pages in the morning. Sounds like my entire college career.
 

Jarmel

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Mar 3, 2010
43,442
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Gee he tries to wind down. Huge surprise. I'd rather not know so much. And we still don't

Also, almonds are loaded with nutritious fat, he's simply following research there, and cutting himself off

Heavily rewriting speeches isn't exactly winding down. He's very much a night person.
 

Ether_Snake

安安安安安安安安安安安安安安安
Dec 2, 2006
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Definitly spending his nights on GAF.
 

ampere

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Mar 30, 2007
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That lack of sleep has got to be hurting, but I understand him needing that personal time to take care of things. Obama is an interesting guy, he seems like a more introverted, introspective person than I'd expect from a president, but of course he's still an incredible orator when he needs to be.
 

Brinbe

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Dec 11, 2008
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Sounds like a GAFer to me.

He works on speeches. He reads the stack of briefing papers delivered at 8 p.m. by the National Security Council staff secretary. He reads 10 letters from Americans chosen each day by his staff. “How can we allow private citizens to buy automatic weapons? They are weapons of war,” Liz O’Connor, a Connecticut middle school teacher, wrote in a letter Mr. Obama read on the night of June 13.

The president also watches ESPN, reads novels or plays Words With Friends on his iPad.

Michelle Obama occasionally pops in, but she goes to bed before the president, who is up so late he barely gets five hours of sleep a night. For Mr. Obama, the time alone has become more important.

Seriously can vibe with this mentality. Obama the introvert.
 

Zukkoyaki

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May 17, 2014
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Some folks are just fine and sometimes better off getting less sleep than most. I'm like that! About 5-6 hours a night and I feel great. Anymore and I feel pretty awful to be honest. Emperor Obama and I have something in common!
 

itwasTuesday

He wasn't alone.
Feb 12, 2010
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I wonder what his ratio of email replies written on the presidential black berry keypad vs a full qwerty keyboard are.

And Words with Friends eh? So that's how he gets our military secrets out unchecked.
 

Quick

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Apr 23, 2011
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I feel it.

I get a ton of stuff done at night, between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM, more than I do during the day (barring actual work in the office). I'm wired to basically be up until 2:00 AM or even later. At least I don't have to get up too early for work though.
 

Loxley

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Jul 11, 2008
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As an introvert who values time alone to work and concentrate, particularly in the evening, this was a really nice read. I had no idea Obama was introverted at all, I've just always assumed that elected officials were more extroverted since being a politician requires you to be in the public eye so much.
 

Epsilon-delta

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May 9, 2006
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As an introvert who values time alone to work and concentrate, particularly in the evening, this was a really nice read. I had no idea Obama was introverted at all, I've just always assumed that elected officials were more extroverted since being a politician requires you to be in the public eye so much.

Same here.
 

akira28

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Aug 31, 2010
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Obama After Dark sounds like a good time. Driving around DC with him and his body man, pranking the fuck out of GOP members of Congress as they try to do their day to day evil. Then he signs a bunch of drone target clearances and goes home to Michelle.
 

Tobor

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Sep 15, 2006
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It's amazing how on point West Wing was. Reading this article I couldn't help but hear the theme song in my head.
 

Concept17

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Jul 23, 2007
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As an introvert who values time alone to work and concentrate, particularly in the evening, this was a really nice read. I had no idea Obama was introverted at all, I've just always assumed that elected officials were more extroverted since being a politician requires you to be in the public eye so much.

Ehh, as a non-introvert, I value my time alone to get things done as well. It's not exclusive to introverts. Not saying he isn't one, he may be.
 

Toothless

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Oct 12, 2014
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How did I not know Jon Favreau used to be his speechwriter? That's the most insightful thing to me in this article (although there's certainly other interesting parts to it).
 

ssolitare

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Jan 12, 2009
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Is Obama Ambidextrous? Seems like he's great at everything. He doubles as an introvert-extravert.
 

Squalor

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May 27, 2013
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Four to five hours of sleep a night.

Obama gets it. Any more is just indulging.
 
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