What do you give the president who has everything?
President Obama is turning 53 today, and he was looking for some love Friday when he asked the White House press corps to wish him a happy birthday.
But what would Obama really like?
Here are some things he might be wishing for as he blows out his candles today.
1. More impeachment talk from Republicans
Obama thinks it’s a political gift every time his Republican rivals use the 'i' word. Democrats are raking in cash on the unrealistic threat of impeachment, and some GOP lawmakers can’t resist speculating about bringing such charges against the president. During the congressional recess, Obama would like nothing more than for Republicans to sound the impeachment drum — and to help energize a disillusioned Democratic base.
2. Some good news in Gaza, Ukraine or Syria
Nothing has gone right in the Middle East lately. And the situation isn’t much better in Ukraine. With the bloodshed in Gaza and the Syrian civil war spilling over into Iraq, Obama’s headache on foreign affairs has turned into an incurable migraine. At this point, the president would settle for a cease-fire in Gaza that lasts more than 24 hours. Or maybe Russian President Vladimir Putin could make the slightest of concessions following another round of sanctions from western powers.
3. Faster economic growth
The president desperately wants credit for recent economic gains.
“We are now in a six-month streak with at least 200,000 new jobs each month,” he said Friday. “That's the first time that has happened since 1997. Over the past year, we’ve added more jobs than any year since 2006. And all told, our businesses have created 9.9 million new jobs over the past 53 months. That's the longest streak of private sector job creation in our history.”
However, that message was quickly overshadowed by his response to crises overseas and his take on a looming Senate report on Central Intelligence Agency interrogation techniques. With more positive jobs reports, however, that economic message might get additional traction.
4. Senate wins in Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina
The Republican path to a takeover of the Senate clearly runs through a trio of vulnerable Southern Democrats. If Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., manage to fend off challenges, Obama will feel much better about Democrats keeping control of the Senate — and his last two years in office.
5. A respite from Hillary mania
Most people assume that Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016. If and when she officially makes the plunge, Clinton will command unparalleled media attention. For a president looking to bolster his legacy, that’s not a welcome development. Once Clinton jumps in, Obama can’t really shake the lame-duck label anymore. What's a few extra months, Hillary?
6. Malia choosing a college close to D.C.
For Obama, it’s almost that time all parents dread: Sending your first kid off to college. Malia is college bound in the fall of 2016. Obama says he wants his oldest daughter to consider a variety of college campuses. But let's be real — he wouldn’t mind Georgetown or somewhere else closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
7. An end to the George W. Bush comparisons
Obama ran for the presidency as the anti-Bush. Now he can’t shake comparisons to his White House predecessor, given the similar downward trajectory in public perceptions of his second term. Bush was never able to recover from a series of controversies and self-inflicted wounds in the early stages of his second term. Obama is probably hoping that history won’t repeat itself.
8. No more blunders
Team Obama has dismissed a barrage of controversies under the president’s watch as “phony scandals.” But whether it’s been the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups or the uproar over National Security Agency techniques — or more recently, the delays in medical care at Veterans Affairs hospitals and the CIA spying on Senate staffers — the series of blunders by executive agencies has certainly called the president’s management skills into question. Obama would prefer that his agency heads stop making news for the wrong reasons.
9. Big donors for his presidential library
Major donors have already given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Barack Obama Foundation, hoping to lay the foundation for a successful bid to land his presidential library. The question is whether Obama will choose Chicago, Hawaii or a surprise location for the shrine to all things Obama. This much is certain: Obama cares deeply about his post-White House career path. A couple of big checks would ease that transition.
10. A drama-free vacation
This might be Obama’s biggest birthday wish of all. The president is set to leave Saturday for a 16-day vacation on tony Martha's Vineyard, and the golf course near the $12 million beachfront estate awaits him. Obama has received plenty of criticism for the vacation amid so much volatility overseas. For his 53rd birthday, the president wouldn’t mind a slow news week or two, allowing him to slip away for some rest and relaxation.