2015: The Year Obama Stopped Giving Any F-ks - Rolling Stone
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2015: The Year Obama Stopped Giving Any F–ks

Obama treated 2015 a little like his senior spring

Obama; Year in Obama

"I have no more campaigns to run," President Obama said during his State of the Union address in January. "I know because I won both of them."

Saul Leob/Getty

There are some on the fringes of American society who have long believed President Obama isn't the person he purports to be. And, in at least one way, they're correct: Until now, Obama has presented himself as someone who can at least sorta-kinda deal with bullshit, as it is his job to do.

But 2015 was the year Obama dropped the pretense. It was the year he openly bashed birthers, and skewered whiney Republicans in a harsher way than ever before. He also showed he's gotten even more comfortable making bold moves, to hell with what his critics say (and his critics, as always, had plenty to say).

Here are some highlights from the year of DGAF Obama.

State of the Union; Year in Obama 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. CapitolJanuary 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to lay out a broad agenda to address income inequality, making it easier for Americans to afford college education, and child care. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) (R-OH). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Mark Wilson/Getty

January 20, 2015: Drops Mic at the State of the Union

The first sign 2015 was going to be a good year for President Obama came in January, when during his sixth State of the Union address he teased Congressional Republicans determined to maintain that Obama's America has been a dystopian hellscape.

"We've seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years," Obama said. He paused, but Republicans held their applause. "This is good news, people," he teased.

"I have no more campaigns to run," Obama said later in the address. "I know because I won both of them," he added, winking.


February 12, 2015: Uses Selfie Stick, Says “Thanks, Obama”

Before the State of the Union, the White House tweeted a photo of the tan suit that sparked so much controversy last summer when Obama wore it to a press conference: "President Obama's suiting up for the big speech." The joke was at Twitter's expense, and an indication that the president wasn't taking himself, or his critics, too seriously anymore.

That impression was confirmed in February, when Obama acted like a goofball — making funny faces in the mirror, posing with a selfie stick, and invoking "Thanks, Obama" in a BuzzFeed video promoting HealthCare.gov.


April 25, 2015: Explains His Bucket/F-ck It List

If there was any lingering doubt that this was the year Obama lost all his fucks, he came out in April and told us so in the most direct terms possible. At the White House Correspondents Dinner, Obama spoke about being asked if he has a bucket list for his final couple of years in office.

"I have something that rhymes with bucket list," he said. "Take executive action on immigration? Bucket. New climate regulations? Bucket — it's the right thing to do."

Barack Obama; Marc Maron; 2015 Obama Recap

Pete Souza/The White House

June 22, 2015: Hangs Out in Marc Maron’s Garage

In June, Obama traveled to Eagle Rock, California, where he sat down in comedian Marc Maron's garage for a revealing interview on Maron's WTF podcast.

The president spoke candidly about his frustrations with Congress, particularly when it comes to gun violence. "Right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 six-year-olds are gunned down and Congress literally does nothing, that's the closest I came to feeling disgusted," Obama said. 


June 26, 2015: Sings ‘Amazing Grace’ at Charleston Funeral

In late June, Obama traveled to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to deliver a eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims gunned down by shooter Dylann Roof inside the church the previous week.

During his remarks, Obama said it would be a betrayal of Pinckney if "once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, [we] go back to business as usual — that's what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society."

Then Obama did something to ensure the reverend's eulogy wouldn't be quickly forgotten: He sang a few bars of "Amazing Grace." This is noteworthy because the president was delivering his remarks in a historically black church — a church not unlike his own in Chicago, which he had to try to make voters feel comfortable with, and to some extent distance himself from, during the 2008 campaign. Seven years later, Obama seemed to care much less about what his critics might say; he was so unselfconscious in the moment that that he broke out into song.

Barack Obama; Prisons; Year in Obama

US President Barack Obama walks through the prison yard during a tour of the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Saul Leob/Getty

July 16, 2015: Is the First Sitting President to Visit a Federal Prison

In July, Obama became the first sitting president in history to visit a federal prison. Two days later he commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, the most commutations in a single day since President Lyndon Johnson. 

"These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years,” Obama said in a video explaining the commutations. "I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances. And I believe these folks deserve their second chance."

The visit and the clemencies were both unprecedented, but 2015 Obama isn't an Obama who cares about precedence. 2015 Obama just wants to see shit get done, and one of the biggest priorities still on his plate is criminal justice reform. 

Obama; Kenya; Year in Obama

US President Barack Obama waves alongside his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta (R) before boarding Air Force One prior to his departure from Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. Obama urged Kenya to renounce corruption and tribalism, delivering a rousing speech at the end of a landmark visit to the East African nation and birthplace of his father. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Saul Leob/Getty

July 26, 2015: Travels to Kenya, Swears He’s Not Looking for His Birth Certificate

In July, Obama traveled to Kenya, where had a laugh at the expense of conspiracy theorists who've raised (and continue to raise) suspicions about his country of origin. "I suspect that some of my critics back home are suspecting that I'm back here to look for my birth certificate," Obama joked delivering a toast at a state dinner. "That is not the case."

It wasn't the first time this year he's cracked a variation on that joke. At the Gridiron Dinner in May, Obama told the crowd, "If I did not love America, I wouldn't have moved here from Kenya."

Obama; Michelle; Year in Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama adjusts the tie of United States President Barack Obama as they prepare to welcome President XI Jinping of China and Madame Peng Liyuan to a State Dinner in their honor on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, September 25, 2015. Credit: Ron Sachs / CNP - NO WIRE SERVICE - Photo by: Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Ron Sachs/AP

September 25, 2015: Obama DGAF About Anything Other Than His Hot Wife

This fall, the president and first lady hosted a state dinner honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping. All sorts of VIPs were there, from John Kerry to Madeleine Albright to Mark Zuckerberg.

But all anyone wanted to talk about after the dinner? Michelle Obama's bangin' off-the-shoulder Vera Wang gown. No one appreciated her look more than the president himself, as this photo makes clear.


October 1, 2015: Gets Serious About Gun Violence

In October, addressing the nation after yet another mass shooting, this time in Roseburg, Oregon, Obama got serious about gun control. He didn't seem mournful, as he was after the Newtown or Charleston shootings. This time he was angry; you could hear the frustration and disappointment in his voice. He sounded like someone who no longer cares about irritating the gun lobby or ruffling the feathers of Republicans in Congress who kowtow to those lobbyists' demands. 

"This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loves ones because of our inaction," Obama said. 

He predicted that following the press conference, "Somebody, somewhere will comment and say, 'Obama politicized this issue.' Well, this is something we should politicize.  It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."


October 10, 2015: Gives Kanye West Campaign Advice

At the Video Music Awards in September, as he was accepting the Video Vanguard Award, Kanye West informed the audience he would run for president in 2020. President Obama addressed the news at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser where West was scheduled to perform. 

He advised Kanye that, should he decide to persue a bid, he'll be forced to "spend a lot of time dealing with some strange characters who behave like they're on a reality TV show. So you've got to be cool with that." 

Secondly, he said, "Saying that you have a beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy? That's what known as 'off-message' in politics," Obama said, referring to Kanye's album by the same name. "You can't say something like that. A lot of people have lost their congressional seats saying something like that. You don't do that."

Obama; Ahmed Mohamed; Clock; Year in Obama

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd R) talks with 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed (C) during the second Astronomy Night on the South Lawn of the White House October 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Invited to the White House for the science event, Mohamed was handcuffed and questioned by police last month when he brought a homemade electronic clock to class at MacArthur High School in Irving, TX, and officials mistook it for a bomb. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

October 19, 2015: Tweets “Cool Clock, Ahmed,” Sends Conservatives Into a Tizzy

One of the more embarrassing stories of the year involved Ahmed Mohamed, a Texas teenager who was arrested after his teachers mistook a clock he built and brought to school for a bomb.

Many commentators were quick to point out that Mohamed's arrest seemed racially charged, motivated by stereotypes of brown-skinned individuals as terrorists (and this was even before Donald Trump called for banning all Muslims from the United States).

Among the many celebrities and non-notables alike who had Mohamed's back in the aftermath of the incident was President Obama, who tweeted, "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

Mohamed took the president up on his offer, visiting the White House the following month.

Meanwhile, conservatives foamed at the mouth.

Obama; Baby Pope; Year in Obama

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet a young child dressed as the Pope and riding in a "Popemobile" as he hands out treats to children trick-or-treating for Halloween on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Saul Leob/Getty

October 30, 2015: Doesn’t Give a F-ck About Schism, Recognizes Baby Pope

Though they had a pleasant meeting when Pope Francis visited the White House earlier this year, President Obama and the pope certainly don't see eye-to-eye on every issue.

You know what religious leader Obama can get behind 100 percent? The pope's toddler doppelgänger, who also visited the White House this year, at Halloween, riding high on his toy Popemobile. The president more or less lost it with that kid, giving him the top costume prize of the night.

Obama; GOP Canidates, Year in Obama

President Barack Obama speaks at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Susan Walsh/AP

November 3, 2015: Mocks GOP Candidates

At a Democratic fundraiser in New York in November, Obama fired back at the Republican candidates who whined about how tough the CNBC debate moderators had been on them. 

"Every one of these candidates say, 'Obama's weak, Putin's kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he's gonna straighten out.' And then it turns out they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators!" Obama said.

"I mean let me tell you: if you can't handle those guys," he added, laughing, "I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you."


November 11, 2015: Addresses Folks Who “Want to Pop Off” About ISIS

At the G20 Leaders Summit in Turkey this fall, Obama, clearly weary of the critical blathering about his handling of ISIS, delivered a message to his detractors. 

"Folks want to pop off  and have opinions about what they think they would do? Present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisors somehow are better than the chairman of my joint chiefs of staff, I want to meet 'em, and we can have that debate," Obama said. 

(The line itself was pretty great, but the remix was even better.)


November 25, 2015: Is Over the Turkey Pardon

Presidents have long dreaded the annual turkey pardon – truly the dumbest of the presidential duties. President Obama is no exception, often mixing his signature dad jokes ("As you may have heard, for months there has been a fierce competition between a bunch of turkeys trying to win their way into the White House") with exasperation over the tradition. As he said this year, "I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly. I do not disagree." Yes, Obama does not give a fuck about the turkey pardon, and thank goodness for that. 

Another thing we can all be thankful for: This year we didn't have to endure any conservatives waxing poetic about the Obama daughters' lack of "class."

In This Article: Barack Obama

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