October 13, 2010, 7:25 am


Ashley Gilbertson/VII Network, for The New York Times

In the magazine article, Mr. Obama reflects on the first two years of his presidency.President Obama said that he expected Republicans to offer him more cooperation after November’s elections, no matter the outcome.

In an hour-long interview with the Times’s White House correspondent, Peter Baker, Mr. Obama predicted that his political rivals would either be chastened by falling short of their electoral goals or burdened with the new responsibility that comes from achieving them.

“It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them,” Mr. Obama said. “Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”

The president’s comments are reported in an in-depth assessment of Mr. Obama’s first two years in office that appears in the Times Magazine this Sunday.

In the article, which is based on interviews with nearly two dozen of the president’s advisers in addition to the president himself, Mr. Baker offers a series of inside details about Mr. Obama’s time in the White House, including:

According to his wife, Michelle Obama, Mr. Obama is not particularly fond of the presidential retreat at Camp David. Mrs. Obama reports that her husband, a longtime resident of Chicago, is more at ease in an urban setting.
Pete Rouse, Mr. Obama’s new chief of staff, bet the deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina, $400 that he would be gone from the White House by the end of this year. Mr. Messina predicted that Mr. Rouse would stay well beyond that date.
Mr. Obama — unlike most of his senior staff — does not have an iPad. Asked why, he said: “Because I have an iReggie,” a reference to his personal aide, Reggie Love.
In the magazine article, Mr. Obama reflects on his presidency, admitting that he let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus.

He pushed back against what he called the “mythology” that his 2008 presidential campaign had been flawless and that his presidency suffers by comparison.

“The mythology has emerged somehow that we ran this flawless campaign, I never made a mistake, that we were master communicators, everything worked in lockstep. And somehow now, as president, things are messy and they don’t always work as planned and people are mad at us,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not how I look at stuff, because I remember what the campaign was like. And it was just as messy and just as difficult. And there were all sorts of moments when our supporters lost hope, and it looked like we weren’t going to win. And we’re going through that same period here.”

He also predicted that in the next two years, his administration would focus less on trying to pass new legislation and more on implementing and consolidating what passed in the first two years.

“Even if I had the exact same Congress, even if we don’t lose a seat in the Senate and we don’t lose a seat in the House, I think the rhythms of the next two years would inevitably be different from the rhythms of the first two years,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of work in this administration just doing things right and making sure that new laws are stood up in the ways they’re intended.”

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