You know what they say – the only President not to age rapidly in office was William Henry Harrison – and that’s just because he died 30 days in.
But it still must be disconcerting for Barack Obama to look back at photos from his inauguration and reflect on exactly how the past five-and-a-half years have changed him. He hasn’t, as the Village Voice predicted, grown a mustache, but it’s clear that his time in the White House has taken its physical toll on the Commander-in-Chief all the same.
Let’s celebrate Obama’s 53rd birthday on Aug. 4 – a date he shares with Billy Bob Thornton and Cole and Dylan Sprouse – by traveling back in time to his previous birthdays in office. It’s like we’re making the years go by even quicker than they already have!
Was he ever so young? Were we? Obama didn’t have much of a honeymoon – his first summer in office, if you’ll recall, was marked by large protests against his health care reform plan – but on the occasion of his 48th birthday, the president looked like the younger brother of the current Obama.
The late summer of 2010 was one of the more quarrelsome seasons in recent political history, with the furor over the Ground Zero mosque and a Florida pastor threatening to burn the Quran captivating the nation ahead of the Tea Party “shellacking” of the 2010 midterms. But all that was still in store for the 49-year-old Barack Obama as he gave a confident point to supporters on the White House lawn.
The big 5-0! Perhaps it was the milestone, perhaps it was the first of many showdowns over the debt ceiling, but the president could only muster a slight wave to supporters as he entered the White House a few days after his birthday.
A 51st birthday is never the most special of occasions (it’s … the 30th anniversary of your 21st birthday?) and that goes double in an election year. Obama celebrated with a game of golf and a quiet night in at Camp David, before hitting the campaign trail once again.
As he entered his second term, the summer of 2013 must have seemed like a welcome respite for Obama. And it was, sort of, at least until the NSA Prism scandal and the George Zimmerman verdict took over the news cycle. It’s like we’re slowly watching the passion seep out of Obama’s eyes.
Finally, we come to 2014, likely his last summer of relevance before the country goes all 2016-election-crazy. At the risk of overturning the entire U.S. government, don’t you think he looks tired?