President Barack Obama is becoming less stiff as his second term heads towards a close, a fact obvious from — and spoken about during — a recent GQ interview with Grantland founder Bill Simmons.
“I’ve just been in this job a long time and have gone through some tough stretches,” the leader of the free world told the former ESPN personality. “Not only do you not look like you have any fear, but you actually don’t have any fear. And I don’t at this point.”
“The bets we made early on have paid off,” he added, admitting: “Some of it does have to do with luck.”
Obama may not be scared, but he’s willing to admit a shortcoming when he sees one. In the GQ Men of the Year interview, the two-term Commander-in-Chief acknowledged that he may have taken his foot off the gas a bit following a legendary 2008 campaign, which practically shifted and mobilized a culture.
“Somehow in those first two years, I think a certain arrogance crept in, in the sense of thinking as long as we get the policy ready, we didn’t have to sell it,” Obama said. “What I didn’t fully appreciate, and nobody can appreciate until they’re in the position, is how decentralized power is in this system.”
The interview reached far more playful arenas from there, often devolving into sports metaphors — something that was bound to happen when the self-named Sports Guy got some face time with the basketball player, fan, and occasional golfer.
They also talked TV, where Obama admitted to being a major “Game of Thrones” fan, and that his guilty pleasure is the Golf Channel’s reality competition series “Big Break.” (On the HBO fantasy series, after saying the “dwarf” [Peter Dinklage] is his favorite character, Obama quipped: “I remember the characters, so when I watch it, I know exactly what’s going on. But if you read a review of the show afterwards and they’re mentioning such and such, the only one I remember is Jon Snow, because I can pronounce Jon Snow.”)
Being 2015, however, even the presidency is going from traditional mediums to digital ones — and Obama told Simmons that they’re building the appropriate team and infrastructure in the White House.
“The job of our office, to keep up and to respond quickly to anything that’s happening but not be consumed by it, is completely different,” he explained. “It’s not just having to change how we do business inside the White House to react to stories, but also, how do we tell a story about issues to constituencies that are completely splintered, who don’t watch television in the same way, who don’t watch the news in the same way? In some ways we’re just laying the foundation for what I assume will be the standard practice of future presidents.”
Read the full interview here.