A few weeks ago, President Obama, who turns 50 today, said that all he wanted for his birthday was a debt ceiling bill he could sign. He got his wish on Monday and began celebrating Wednesday night with a birthday party fundraiser in Chicago. Obama is the seventh U.S. president to turn 50 while in office.
Before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the president was asked if he was "ready for the big 5-0." He quipped that he would seek advice from his cabinet members on how to handle the "milestone" event. And while he's still younger than the Republican presidential candidates who hope to depose him in 2012, the stress of running a nation can be seen in the graying of his hair. And certainly no one can call him inexperienced. Indeed, in the past two and a half years, he's had to deal with more than most new presidents: an economic recession and sluggish recovery, a mid-term election shakeup, unprecedented levels of unemployment and home foreclosures, and a debt ceiling battle that was resolved just as the default clock was about to wind down.
But he's also had some major triumphs, such as the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden and landmark health-care reform legislation, the latter a feat that no other Democratic president has managed to achieve.
In remarks delivered at the fundraiser, Obama, who has been stuck in Washington and probably still feeling a bit battered, said that he could not have a "better early birthday present" than a night spent in Chicago with old friends and supporters. He also joked about his age.
"It's true that I turn 50 tomorrow," he said Wednesday evening. "Which means that when I wake up, I'll have an email from AARP asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.”
(Photos from left: Nam Y. Huh-Pool/Getty Images, photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)