Left to right – Martin Nesbitt, Valerie Jarrett, Dr. Eric Whitaker
The State: They golf with him, they vacation with him, their kids and his kids hang out. To them, he is Barack, not Mr. President. He can be teased and tease back.
They form the trusted circle of tightlipped friends who have sustained Barack Obama through good times and bad since his days in Chicago, from Hawaii to Washington to Martha’s Vineyard and back again.
For the most powerful man on the planet who nonetheless may have one of the loneliest jobs, a close band of buddies – Eric Whitaker, Martin Nesbitt and Valerie Jarrett form the core – has become a second family, to a degree replacing the one he lost or never had with the absence of his father and death of his mother in 1995.
Apart from wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, they are the people he is closest with. And to the president, in his private life a creature of habit, there’s a comfort in turning to trusted friends with whom confidence runs deep and there is no question about where loyalties lie.
“I think that for a president of the United States who’s always on, it’s a relief to be around people who’ve known you for a very long time so that you can just be comfortable, No. 1 being yourself, and No. 2 knowing that you can trust them completely,” Jarrett said in an interview.
“There’s a level of trust that has withstood the test of time. He doesn’t have to worry about his friends leaking the details of his vacation to the press,” she said.
“He enjoys being around people who are completely comfortable teasing him and treating him like a friend and not the president of the United States.”
CBS: Obama’s Circle Of Friends (January 21, 2009) – ‘From Barry to President Obama; Erin Moriarity speaks with Marty Nesbitt, one of President Obama’s closest friends, about this historic moment and the importance of friendship.’ (You can see the original video here)
NY Mag: From the Time Capsule: Dominique Strauss-Kahn Meets Barack and Michelle Obama at a dinner during the G-20 conference in September 2009. Some pictures say a thousand words. This one just says two: No Touching.
Thank you Proud
Although Michelle knows how to handle creeps …. remember her keeping Berlusconi at arm’s length?
Steve Benen: Sen. John McCain yesterday became the highest profile U.S. official to visit Libya since international military intervention began, and gave a hearty endorsement to the rebels fighting the Gadhafi government … “They are my heroes,” he said … he called his visit “one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life”.
….McCain’s last visit to Libya was very different, and it’s amazing that U.S. media outlets reporting on his remarks yesterday are pretending this other visit never occurred. It was just 18 months ago that McCain traveled to Libya and cozied up to Gadhafi, visiting with him at the dictator’s home in Tripoli, shaking his hand, and even bowing a little to Gadhafi:
The point of the meeting was for McCain to discuss delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. I guess the rebels didn’t hear about this? And that American media outlets simply forgot it happened?
Politics Daily (August 2009): Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency. McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:
“Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya – interesting meeting with an interesting man.”
18 months later McCain was mentioning Gaddafi and Hitler in the same sentence (here)