Former President Barack Obama says he loved being president about 70% of the time, as he told journalist Ira Glass during a recent LinkedIn event focused on finding purpose at work. But he didn’t enjoy the other 30% quite as much.
“This, I think, is a pretty honest assessment — I would say 70% of the time, being president is a hoot. I loved the job,” Obama said during the Thursday night live event that was streamed online.
The discussion was centered around his new Netflix docuseries “Working: What We Do All Day,” which aims to “explores the meaning of work for modern Americans in a time of rapid change.”
Obama said that the best thing about being commander-in-chief was the variety of work.
“You have a bunch of difficult problems, but you’re not locked into any kind of monotony” as the president of the United States, he said. He also listed jobs he held before being elected into the highest office in the land, such as waiting tables, working at Baskin Robbins, painting, doing construction and becoming a lawyer.
“‘If you’re just doing the same thing over and over again, particularly if you’re sitting or standing in one spot, that’s not really how humans are built.’”
“One of the things that I think is tough oftentimes in modern work is monotony, right?” he continued. “If you’re just doing the same thing over and over again, particularly if you’re sitting or standing in one spot, that’s not really how humans are built. And the nice thing about being president was that every day is different, and every hour within the day was different.”
But Obama cited two major components that helped make up that 30% he didn’t like about being president so much.
“Look, the 30%? Fundraising to get elected,” Obama said. “Pretty much fundraising in any occupation. Just having to ask people for money in order to get things done… and I still have to do that sometimes for projects.”
And roadblocks in Congress were another struggle.
“Dealing with members of Congress, for example, who are not actually trying to solve problems,” he added. “There were some wonderful members I have worked with, but there were also those who were not about mission, not about a goal. Weren’t straight with you.”
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Obama’s frustrations with some members of Congress comes as his former Vice President, current President Joe Biden, is negotiating a vital debt ceiling agreement with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The two sides have been in talks for several weeks to avoid a potentially market-shaking default on the country’s debt obligations. The proposed new deal, which is not finalized yet, would lift the debt limit through the 2024 election, make cuts to the IRS and claw back unspent COVID-19 aid.