Before he leaves the stage today, I want to rewind to his final press conference. I thought that he demonstrated such a sense of responsibility, such a manliness (as Harvey Mansfield might describe it) – to a degree that can be foreign in our culture today:
I believe this — the phrase “burdens of the office” is overstated. You know, it’s kind of like, why me? Oh, the burdens, you know. Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch? It’s just — it’s pathetic, isn’t it, self-pity. And I don’t believe that President-Elect Obama will be full of self-pity. He will find — you know, your — the people that don’t like you, the critics, they’re pretty predictable. Sometimes the biggest disappointments will come from your so-called friends. And there will be disappointments, I promise you. He’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, the job is so exciting and so profound that the disappointments will be clearly, you know, a minor irritant compared to the –
Q It was never the “loneliest office in the world” for you?
THE PRESIDENT: No, not for me. We had a — people — we — I had a fabulous team around me of highly dedicated, smart, capable people, and we had fun. I tell people that, you know, some days happy, some days not so happy, every day has been joyous. And people, they say, I just don’t believe it to be the case. Well, it is the case. Even in the darkest moments of Iraq, you know, there was — and every day when I was reading the reports about soldiers losing their lives, no question there was a lot of emotion, but also there was times where we could be light-hearted and support each other.
And I built a team of really capable people who were there not to serve me, or there to serve the Republicans, they were there to serve the country. And President-Elect Obama will find, as he makes these tough calls and tough decisions, that he’ll be supported by a lot of really good people that care — care about the country, as well.
In a culture that does not shun self-pity, his comments were refreshing.