Everyone expects a People magazine interview with the Obamas is going to be about what's on the i-Pod and the president's New Year's resolution for "resisting pie." But in addition to those items, People's Sandra Sobieraj Westfall (formerly of AP) did lob a couple of adult pitches in their January 25 issue:
PEOPLE: Mr. President, after the events of Dec. 25, do you want to reconsider your B-plus?
OBAMA: When you look at what we've done this year on national security, we perforned at a very high level in as difficult an environment as you can imagine. I had to make a very difficult decision about Afghanistan. The number of terrorist plots that we disrupted this year was extremely significant. Sadly the intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities don't get credit when they stop things. Nobody is satisfied with the fact that Abdulmutallab was able to get on the plane. I'm holding myself and my team responsible for fixing that situation.
So the answer to reconsidering his B-plus is basically "No."
A natural followup to this -- maybe there was one, but not in print -- would have been to ask Obama if he gave the Bush team proper credit for disrupting terrorist plots while he was running to please the anti-Bush, anti-war left. Obama didn't find foiled plots to be "extremely significant" back then. Then Obama seemed to suggest dueling military policies:
PEOPLE: Do you rule out the possibility that U.S. troops may have to go somewhere else -- like Yemen?
OBAMA: I have no intention of sending U.S boots on the ground in those regions...I never rule out any possibility in a world this complex. In countries like Yemen and Somalia [we're] working with international partners.
Ellipses are theirs. Obama-watchers would like to know what People threw into the hole of those ellipses on Obama's military instincts, that he had to reverse himself rhetorically.
Westfall also threw a decent pitch at Mrs. Obama in this exchange:
PEOPLE: Your husband recently graded himself a B-plus for his first year's performance. What grade would you give yourself?
MRS. OBAMA: No way am I grading myself [Laughs.]
OBAMA: I'll give her an A, as do, I think, the American people. Way to go.
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, honey.
PEOPLE: What do you make of the criticism by some that you've been more dilettantish in your work than made a real impact?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, gosh, we've done a lot. We planted the first White House kitchen garden that's produced thousands of pounds of food [Really?] and started this wonderful mentorship program here. We've done, along with Jill Biden, tremendous work to shine a light on military families. I stood by my husband while we saw the expansion of the National Service Act, and we've continued to build that energy. I've traveled to many countries and hopefully have been able to have an effect there. I felt like I've been pretty busy and pretty substantive, but there are alwyas those who want you to do more because there's so much more to do. One thin I'm excited about is a significant effort this year to reduce the rate of childhood obesity.
The rest of the interview in the magazine was quite gooey and promotional, especially the pictures. People highlighted "Their Year in Pictures," in which "the Obamas picked these as their favorites." So readers saw the president holding younger daughter Sasha in the elevator heading up the family quarters of the White House; Sasha and Malia playing with the dog Bo in the December snowstorm; the president and Sasha standing in silhouette at the Jefferson Memorial; and the president with his arm around Sasha at a former slave port in Ghana.