Consumer in Chief
Not even presidents are immune from the allure of a bargain. So even though President Obama went to a Costco store in Prince George's County, Md., for the very serious purpose of selling his proposed increase in the minimum wage, he couldn't help but veer off-topic when he saw all the deals. From the 80-inch, big-screen TV for Super Bowl viewing to the snorkel gear, Obama seemed as if he'd rather be shopping than selling the program he'd announced the night before in his State of the Union address. "I need some time to pick up a snow shovel and one of those 50-pound bags of dog food for Bo and Sunny," he told the store's employees. He marveled, "You can buy a sofa, chocolate-chip cookies, and a snorkel set all in the same place." Obama clearly had a tough time keeping his inner consumer from overwhelming the outer politician, wrapping up his remarks by saying he wanted to "grab a 10-pound barrel of pretzels and 500 golf balls."
George E. Condon Jr.
State of the Union nights are prime opportunities for congressional selfies. Backbench lawmakers jump at the chance to use the one moment each year when all three branches of government come together in their full majesty. Rep. Eliot Engel is famous for waiting hours every year since 1989 to secure a good spot so he can shake the president's hand on TV, something the New York Democrat says attracts more attention in his district than any of his more-substantive accomplishments. But this year, the president had competition. More than a dozen (mostly Republican) members of Congress posted pictures on their social-media accounts of themselves with Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, who were guests of Rep. Vance McAllister of Louisiana and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. By posing for selfies with Willie Robertson, who sports a bushy beard and an American flag bandanna, the lawmakers communicated a different message: Washington could take its ceremonial ritual and shove it.