President Obama recalled his college years in an interview with his longtime friend and former adviser, telling David Axelrod that he used to be “wildly pretentious.”
In an hour-long interview for Axelrod’s CNN podcast “The Axe Files,” the two reminisced about Obama’s year’s in office as he gets ready to depart from the White House in 24 days.
Obama compared his own maturation and development through his school years to his daughters, crediting the “the kind of discipline that I see in my daughters” to his and Michelle’s parenting.
He said his “gradual” transformation began when he was at Occidental College at the beginning of his undergraduate education.
“I became more socially conscious at Occidental even though I was partying, anti-Apartheid movement, starting to be interested in social policy and poverty and starting to study civil rights even if through the haze of a hangover,” Obama said.
He said that experience became “tied up with my racial identity.”
“I start thinking about what it means to be not just a man, but a black man in America and how do you forge dignity and respect in a society that’s still troubled by — by the question of race.”
As he continued to recall his youth, the president also joked that “in retrospect” he was “wildly pretentious.”
In preparation for a next book, Obama said he has started to read old journals and has found “letters that I’ve written to, you know, girls you’re courting or something.”
“They’re impenetrable,” he said. “ I mean, I don’t — I don’t understand what I’m saying, right?”
The letters, he said, “didn’t work, I think, because people were all like, wow, this guy is just too intense.”
I’m shocked. It’s hard to believe that the humble, self-effacing public servant we see today used to be an arrogant, self-centered prick.