LANHAM, MD - JANUARY 29: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) is escorted by Costco employees Ray Quevedo (L) and Rickey Banner while touring the store before speaking January 29, 2014 in in Lanham, Maryland. Obama is beginning a two-day, four-state tour to promote policies outlined in his State of the Union speech and including raising the minimum wage. Getty Images

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

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.

"Duck" Face

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.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Murmurs

Veritas President Obama drew applause from the House chamber for striking a populist note in his State of the Union address. And, yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But the Harvard Law School graduate has quietly been stuffing his administration with elites: A 2013 National Journal survey of 250 administration decision-makers found that no fewer than 40 percent held Ivy League degrees. Of those with graduate degrees, just a quarter earned them from public universities. In fact, more Obama administration officials secured advanced degrees from Oxford — you know, in England — than from any U.S. public school. And more than 60 of the officials surveyed "went to school in Cambridge" — you know, in Massachusetts — either as undergrad or grad students. To be fair, not every Ivy Leaguer sports a silver spoon, and Obama at times has shown an affinity for those who, like himself, got there the hard way. Still, it all sort of makes one grateful for the presence of the two men who sat behind Obama on Tuesday night: Vice President Joe Biden — a grad of the University of Delaware (Go, Fightin' Blue Hens!) and Syracuse Law, where he finished 76th in his class of 85 — and Boehner, who matriculated from Xavier University. Xavier, actually, is just down the road from Oxford — Oxford, Ohio, that is.

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.

"Duck" Face

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.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Murmurs

Veritas President Obama drew applause from the House chamber for striking a populist note in his State of the Union address. And, yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But the Harvard Law School graduate has quietly been stuffing his administration with elites: A 2013 National Journal survey of 250 administration decision-makers found that no fewer than 40 percent held Ivy League degrees. Of those with graduate degrees, just a quarter earned them from public universities. In fact, more Obama administration officials secured advanced degrees from Oxford — you know, in England — than from any U.S. public school. And more than 60 of the officials surveyed "went to school in Cambridge" — you know, in Massachusetts — either as undergrad or grad students. To be fair, not every Ivy Leaguer sports a silver spoon, and Obama at times has shown an affinity for those who, like himself, got there the hard way. Still, it all sort of makes one grateful for the presence of the two men who sat behind Obama on Tuesday night: Vice President Joe Biden — a grad of the University of Delaware (Go, Fightin' Blue Hens!) and Syracuse Law, where he finished 76th in his class of 85 — and Boehner, who matriculated from Xavier University. Xavier, actually, is just down the road from Oxford — Oxford, Ohio, that is.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.