Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: That Sense of Freedom

 

“There are aspects of my life that I can’t get back. But there are things that I can do now. When we were in Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Michelle and I would ride bikes. And now that we have masks on, we could ride through town and people wouldn’t know who we were. It felt pretty close to what I imagined — that sense of freedom, of being able to go wherever you wanted.” – Barack Obama, People Magazine Interview, Dec. 7, 2020

I confess that I subscribed to “People” magazine as part of a free offer from a bookstore and, despite having canceled the subscription, I keep receiving new issues. I usually don’t read beyond the cover, since the cover conveys pretty much all I need to know about who and what People thinks is interesting and important. The most recent issue features Barack Obama in “His Most Revealing Interview!” I actually read this article because of the cover’s claim that “the White House nearly wrecked his marriage.” I have been thinking a lot lately about the portrayal of marriage in literature and in culture, as well as its importance in my own life. But after reading the whole article, I wanted to focus on “that sense of freedom.”

The quote above closes out the article, which emphasizes the modern celebrity magazine’s motto of “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!” We’re left with the poignant reflection that what Barack Obama most wants is to reclaim the freedom that his previous anonymity permitted him and his family. Let’s pretend we don’t notice that Barack Obama has just released his third memoir and has encouraged a friendly and fawning cover story on the impact of politics on his personal life, and just appreciate that Obama has found some measure of elusive freedom via the hottest fashion trend of 2020: face masks.

That Obama prefers not to reveal himself on a bike ride around town is understandable. Perhaps the contradiction between promoting yourself and your book while still wanting personal privacy is also understandable. People does a good job of showing the softer side of its famous subjects, and it succeeds in creating (or perhaps increasing, depending on the reader) sympathy for the Obamas. But, as fellow Ricochetti can imagine, I’m not their typical reader, so I find this effort to elevate Obama in the minds of readers annoying. Obviously, there never would be and never has been a similar attempt to sympathize with President Trump or Melania. This sort of obvious double standard and media bias is so frequent that it hardly warrants mention. If People got the scoop that the White House had nearly wrecked President Trump’s marriage, I think it’s safe to say that they would have been disappointed to include the word “nearly.”

What struck me about Obama’s quote is the way that our political leaders and elites view mask-wearing so differently than “regular” people for whom the anonymity of the mask is more likely to represent social isolation than freedom. As is the case any time someone brings up the topic of masks, I will state my position that I always wear a mask indoors, wherever required or requested and that I’m fine with that. But wearing a mask when going about daily life discourages human connections. For those of us without our own lucrative book deals or opportunities for TV and magazine interviews, those connections are actually a crucial part of the freedom we seek.

I don’t begrudge Obama his dreams for freedom from constant attention and scrutiny, but his comment shows that masks offer a relief from precisely those intrusions. I think this captures a feeling shared by many of our current political leaders who seek power without accountability. Every day brings news of yet another mayor or county health commissioners who can’t seem to abide by the rules they set for the rest of us. I keep wondering why they set themselves up for the accusation of hypocrisy instead of simply saying, “judge for yourself and do what you think is best.” (I know it’s because they don’t believe we can judge for ourselves, but I keep wondering anyway). During the presidential campaign, the masked appearances of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris seemed to me to be symbolic of their lack of transparency. In contrast, Trump was fully visible and very available to the press. Many people I know preferred the masked politicians. That’s what really bothers me.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I think Obama on his bike represents his being able to do whatever he wants, the way he wants, when he wants–just like all the bureaucrats who basically think the same way. In fact, I’d wager to say that they expect us to defer to their expectations. They are, after all, in charge. Right. 

    • #1
    • December 3, 2020, at 11:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. OldPhil Coolidge

    Freedom = Wearing masks

    I’d expect that from him.

    • #2
    • December 3, 2020, at 11:55 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  3. Tex929rr Coolidge

    I’m sure the Obama’s were totally anonymous as they rode their bikes around, accompanied by a bevy of Secret Service agents on bikes with an armored suburban close behind. 

    BHO’s lack of self awareness is truly amazing.

    • #3
    • December 3, 2020, at 1:28 PM PST
    • 20 likes
  4. Rōnin Coolidge

    I was in my local grocery store yesterday and noted the number of magazines that had Berry-O’s picture on the front cover at the check-out. I counted seven. It was like he was doing a victory dance. One thing I’ve learned about the “progressive left” is that they love to visually signal messages to each other, particularly if they think “the lower class” won’t understand what it means. I expect a lot more of this.

    • #4
    • December 3, 2020, at 1:34 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  5. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m reminded of Barack Obama’s outstanding quality — his remarkable humility. It shines through in all three of his autobiographies.

    • #5
    • December 3, 2020, at 1:35 PM PST
    • 23 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Lilly B: I don’t begrudge Obama his dreams for freedom from constant attention and scrutiny

    The only place he’ll get that is in the grave. Don’t put it off, now, Barry. It will be so freeing.

    And if he likes masks so much, why isn’t he wearing one on the magazine cover?


    This is the Quote of the Day, an ongoing project to help get more voices on the site. It can be the easiest way to start a conversation on Ricochet. (Some people do put in a lot more effort, of course.) Our sign-up sheet for December is here and waiting for you. We welcome new participants and new members to Ricochet to share their favorite quotations.

    Another ongoing project to encourage new voices is our Group Writing Project. December’s theme is ‘Tis the Season. If you’re looking to share your own thoughts rather than those of others and have some ideas about the holiday(s) season we are entering, why not sign up there?

    • #6
    • December 3, 2020, at 2:21 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    I’m reminded of Barack Obama’s outstanding quality — his remarkable humility. It shines through in all three of his autobiographies.

    Shines through?

    • #7
    • December 3, 2020, at 3:39 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    He deserves the same kind of attention that Antifa gives shopkeepers’ stores. Good and hard.

    • #8
    • December 3, 2020, at 3:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge

    Athough I imagine it hasn’t happened yet, I hope in some future memoir, Mr Obama is able to clear up a major mystery: how in the week leading up to the election of 2016, the US was one of the least racist nations in the world, and then on Jan 20th 2017, we suddenly became one of the most racist.

    What had Barack and Michelle, Joe and Jill done to un-install our non-racist state of affairs and allow us to become a nation where every progressive in the US suddenly was focused on White Supremacism, and systemic inherent unfairness of the obstacles placed in the way of Americans with darker skin? All of this occurring inside a time frame of less than 75 days?

    • #9
    • December 3, 2020, at 3:52 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lilly B: I don’t begrudge Obama his dreams for freedom from constant attention and scrutiny

    The only place he’ll get that is in the grave. Don’t put it off, now, Barry. It will be so freeing.

    And if he likes masks so much, why isn’t he wearing one on the magazine cover?

    Oh, I don’t know. I kind of enjoy watching him bloviate impotently while the next generation of progressives repudiate his “moderate” policies and positions. To the young, committed socialists of today’s Democratic Party, the way Barack Obama has completely commercialized himself has to be unbearable. Right? (Yeah, probably not) 

    • #10
    • December 3, 2020, at 4:20 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    And some say Obama hasn’t accomplished anything positive… he made the cover of People magazine. Perhaps Foreign Affairs just doesn’t measure up to his expectations.

    • #11
    • December 3, 2020, at 4:27 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    And some say Obama hasn’t accomplished anything positive… he made the cover of People magazine. Perhaps Foreign Affairs just doesn’t measure up to his expectations.

    He’s holding out for Newsweek.

    • #12
    • December 3, 2020, at 4:32 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  13. Front Seat Cat Member

    Barack Obama has been making more than comments about bikes and masks. He’s resurfaced again and seems to be the toast of the talk show circuit making the usual race-baiting remarks. I’m not going to repeat them here – look them up if you want to because his administration re-fueled the racial turmoil. By the way, I find it odd that his old team is part of the Great Restart (WEF). Feel free to look that up too and get familiar with it fast. John Kerry – another ghost of Christmas past – says its going to happen fast, the Great Reset that is.

    The pseudo-Biden presidency is also lining up all Obama’s past favorites. I wonder why he never disappeared like most ex-presidents do. They go back to their home towns – do charity work, paint, travel, and build libraries. He never left Washington. He bought a big, fancy house with a “wall”, and bought a big, fancy million dollar mansion on Martha’s Vineyard – a privileged, wealthy, mostly white colonial beach town where you can hang out with the Kennedy clan. So much for heading back to Chicago….

    It’s no accident. This is his coming out party. I rarely saw Trump or the lovely Melania on a magazine cover. There have been plenty of Michele, who said while in the White House that she had to wake up every morning in a house built by slaves. She also said that the election of Barack was the “first time” she was ever proud of this country. So remind me again that there was no election fraud……?

    • #13
    • December 3, 2020, at 5:02 PM PST
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I’m sure the Obama’s were totally anonymous as they rode their bikes around, accompanied by a bevy of Secret Service agents on bikes with an armored suburban close behind.

    BHO’s lack of self awareness is truly amazing.

    No one was saying, “Who was that masked man?”

    • #14
    • December 3, 2020, at 5:07 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. James Lileks Contributor

    I feel utterly indifferent to the fellow. Like most Presidents, he shrank after leaving office, like George Costanza in a cold bath. Reagan had some mythic stature to his admirers; we imagined him riding horses and chopping wood. Nixon went off to glower at the sunset. But most are diminished, returned to normal mortal status, and we wonder what all the fuss was about. 

    • #15
    • December 3, 2020, at 9:48 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  16. Randy Webster Member

    Lilly B: That Obama prefers not to reveal himself on a bike ride around town is understandable. Perhaps the contradiction between promoting yourself and your book while still wanting personal privacy is also understandable.

    Obama’s obtuseness is staggering. He ran for president thinking he’d have a normal life after?

    • #16
    • December 3, 2020, at 10:53 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Kervinlee Inactive
    KervinleeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Anti-American Marxist bigot, now parasite.

     

     

     

    • #17
    • December 4, 2020, at 2:33 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. MiMac Thatcher

    People magazine, like Us and New Yorker etc aren’t fit to line bird cages. Any self respecting animal would rather die of obstipation & constipation. Years ago Us (IIRC) had an article on the “greatest” romances- almost everyone of them was adulterous. One of the top such “romances”, the article states, was significantly hindered by the disapproval of the TWO cheated on spouses who had the temerity to not approve- imagine the shallowness of such people! Despite the fact that there are millions of “great romances” among married couple Us could not want to see the obvious…

    • #18
    • December 4, 2020, at 5:05 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Vance Richards Member
    Vance RichardsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lilly B: “There are aspects of my life that I can’t get back. But there are things that I can do now. When we were in Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Michelle and I would ride bikes. And now that we have masks on, we could ride through town and people wouldn’t know who we were. It felt pretty close to what I imagined — that sense of freedom, of being able to go wherever you wanted.” – Barack Obama, People Magazine Interview, Dec. 7, 2020

    Yeah, I lost me job. Kids are going stir crazy. But when I do go out with a mask on no one ever asks for an autograph, of course, no one ever asked me for my autograph before but life isn’t about me, it’s about Barack Obama so . . . “freedom.”

    • #19
    • December 4, 2020, at 6:15 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Front Seat Cat Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    I feel utterly indifferent to the fellow. Like most Presidents, he shrank after leaving office, like George Costanza in a cold bath. Reagan had some mythic stature to his admirers; we imagined him riding horses and chopping wood. Nixon went off to glower at the sunset. But most are diminished, returned to normal mortal status, and we wonder what all the fuss was about.

    Really?? Look again…

    • #20
    • December 4, 2020, at 7:25 AM PST
    • Like
  21. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Lilly B: That Obama prefers not to reveal himself on a bike ride around town is understandable. Perhaps the contradiction between promoting yourself and your book while still wanting personal privacy is also understandable.

    Obama’s obtuseness is staggering. He ran for president thinking he’d have a normal life after?

    I don’t think he thought he would have a normal life, but that pretending he wants it is part of what he’s selling while he cashes in on the celebrity attention.

    • #21
    • December 4, 2020, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member

    I like to see him try riding his bike with mask through Santa Monica.

    • #22
    • December 4, 2020, at 7:50 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Also, re-reading the quoted OP again, I think he may believe, however fleetingly, that he wants to be unrecognized or unknown when he goes about in public. I think that’s understandable, from what I’ve read of the way people experience fame. However, if he really wanted to go back to normal life, he must know that he’s going about it all wrong by writing a book, doing interviews, living in DC, and staying connected to powerful networks in media and politics. I think it best to judge him by his actions and note that anyone who believes his protestations is being played. My ultimate point is that people seem to like this game and prefer the politicians who give them the pretense. 

    • #23
    • December 4, 2020, at 7:51 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    I feel utterly indifferent to the fellow. Like most Presidents, he shrank after leaving office, like George Costanza in a cold bath. Reagan had some mythic stature to his admirers; we imagined him riding horses and chopping wood. Nixon went off to glower at the sunset. But most are diminished, returned to normal mortal status, and we wonder what all the fuss was about.

    Yes, that’s the genius of the American system. But doesn’t anyone who chooses to run for President think that he’ll be immortalized in history and probably in monuments, too? So we may see him return to normal mortal status, but he still sees “A President” in the mirror. And while I have never been awed by Obama, he and Michelle do seem to retained their mythic stature for many of their fans. This is perhaps especially true because Joe Biden does not possess that kind of charisma. I think Obama risks shrinking more and more as he continues to milk the past glory of his “historic” presidency. I mean, how impotent has Bill Clinton become in his elder statesmen years?

    • #24
    • December 4, 2020, at 8:07 AM PST
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  25. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Lilly B: “There are aspects of my life that I can’t get back. But there are things that I can do now. When we were in Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Michelle and I would ride bikes. And now that we have masks on, we could ride through town and people wouldn’t know who we were. It felt pretty close to what I imagined — that sense of freedom, of being able to go wherever you wanted.” – Barack Obama, People Magazine Interview, Dec. 7, 2020

    Yeah, I lost me job. Kids are going stir crazy. But when I do go out with a mask on no one ever asks for an autograph, of course, no one ever asked me for my autograph before but life isn’t about me, it’s about Barack Obama so . . . “freedom.”

    I’m sorry. I just went to your profile to see where you live. Then I saw your message to “never you mind about me” and I thought better of asking. 

    • #25
    • December 4, 2020, at 8:12 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Vance Richards Member
    Vance RichardsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Lilly B: “There are aspects of my life that I can’t get back. But there are things that I can do now. When we were in Martha’s Vineyard this summer, Michelle and I would ride bikes. And now that we have masks on, we could ride through town and people wouldn’t know who we were. It felt pretty close to what I imagined — that sense of freedom, of being able to go wherever you wanted.” – Barack Obama, People Magazine Interview, Dec. 7, 2020

    Yeah, I lost me job. Kids are going stir crazy. But when I do go out with a mask on no one ever asks for an autograph, of course, no one ever asked me for my autograph before but life isn’t about me, it’s about Barack Obama so . . . “freedom.”

    I’m sorry. I just went to your profile to see where you live. Then I saw your message to “never you mind about me” and I thought better of asking.

    :)

    I live in NJ, and after months of government mandated anti-social behavior I am finding that I am a bit more social now.

    • #26
    • December 4, 2020, at 8:39 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    I feel utterly indifferent to the fellow. Like most Presidents, he shrank after leaving office, like George Costanza in a cold bath. Reagan had some mythic stature to his admirers; we imagined him riding horses and chopping wood. Nixon went off to glower at the sunset. But most are diminished, returned to normal mortal status, and we wonder what all the fuss was about.

    Yes, that’s the genius of the American system. But doesn’t anyone who chooses to run for President think that he’ll be immortalized in history and probably in monuments, too? So we may see him return to normal mortal status, but he still sees “A President” in the mirror. And while I have never been awed by Obama, he and Michelle do seem to retained their mythic stature for many of their fans. This is perhaps especially true because Joe Biden does not possess that kind of charisma. I think Obama risks shrinking more and more as he continues to milk the past glory of his “historic” presidency. I mean, how impotent has Bill Clinton become in his elder statesmen years?

    I’m pretty sure BHO worries constantly about his legacy. Even his extreme narcissism can’t prevent him from knowing, even unconsciously, that his achievements were someplace between negligible and nonexistent. That is, other than setting race relations back 25 years, his most noteworthy accomplishment.

    • #27
    • December 4, 2020, at 8:51 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  28. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I’m sure the Obama’s were totally anonymous as they rode their bikes around, accompanied by a bevy of Secret Service agents on bikes with an armored suburban close behind.

    BHO’s lack of self awareness is truly amazing.

    No one was saying, “Who was that masked man?”

    Everybody knew who he was from the mom jeans.

    • #28
    • December 4, 2020, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Buckpasser Member
    BuckpasserJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just another democrat who wants us to wear masks for the rest of our lives.

    • #29
    • December 4, 2020, at 9:23 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. The Reticulator Member

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    Just another democrat who wants us to wear masks for the rest of our lives.

    I doubt that’s true. Wearing masks at central command will be good obedience training for us, though. And having a national mandate instead of letting state and local governments handle it will enable him to be the dictator that his people said Trump was going to be. 

    • #30
    • December 4, 2020, at 9:28 AM PST
    • 3 likes