Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

44 Times President Obama Showed He's a Normal Dude

By Phineas Rueckert|

White House Photo/Pete Souza

When Barack Obama became president of the United States in Jan. 2009, the whole world was watching. The United States was in the midst of the worst recession since the early 20th century, embroiled in two foreign wars, and lacking trust in their current president, George W. Bush, who had a 22% approval rating when he left office. 

Obama ran on a campaign of “hope” and “change,” promising to be a president who spoke for all Americans. 

The past eight years have tested Obama’s steel and his resolve. But through it all, one thing remained constant: his enduring, and overwhelming, humanity. Whether or not you’re a fan of his policies, it is hard to criticize his character. 

Obama has always been a people’s president — the type of person you’d like to drink a beer with, share a laugh with, even entrust your child to.

This is demonstrably evident in the photos of the president that have been released to the public. The best and most moving images of the president are not taken at high-level diplomatic meetings, but rather at dances, easter egg hunts, and on basketball courts. 

These images capture the infectious nature of the president’s smile, his sense of humor, and his enduring empathy for the people he worked with and governed. 

Of the thousands of images taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, the following 44 stood out in their portrayal of the president — showing the truest version of Obama: quietly confident, outgoing, and always stoic. 

1) Here he is playing with a baby in June 2015.

Obama-44-Photos-Baby-Flickr.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

2) And playing with another baby in September 2015.

Obama-44-Photos-GC-Baby-2.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

3) And yet another baby in February 2015.

Obama-44-Photos-GC-Baby-3.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

4) In this iconic photo, Obama lets a young boy, who recently had his hair buzzed, pat the president's head, "to see if it felt the same as his" in May 2008.

Obama-44-Photos-GC-head-pat.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

5) In 2011, Marine corporal Dakota Meyer (right) won a congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in Afghanistan. His one request to the president? To drink a beer together. 

Obama-44-Photos-GC-Dakota-Meyer.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

6) Obama was notorious for running late to events. Here he is jogging to meet with supporters in Cleveland in October 2010.

Obama-44-Photos-gc-jog1.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

7) Here he is jogging with (his best friend) Vice President Joe Biden for a “Let’s Move” campaign promotional video in February 2014.

obama-44-photos-gc-jog2.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

8) The president needed to find a dog that could keep up with his jogging habits in March 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-jog3.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

9) President Obama finds moments of tenderness when he can, like this moment with first lady Michelle Obama. The pair are in a freight elevator on their way to one of the inaugural balls in 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-silly-michelle.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

10) Of course, they experience a lot of serious moments, like this one, during an event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches in March 2015. 

obama-44-photos-gc-serious-michelle.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

11) Obama could cut up a rug, like here, where he is dancing with Michelle at the Governors Ball in February 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-dance1.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

12) The president and his wife Michelle dance at the Governors Ball in 2010.

obama-44-photos-gc-dancing2.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

13) President Obama dances with outgoing Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard in May 2015.

obama-44-photos-gc-dancing3.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

14) The president dances with school children in Dillingham, Alaska, in Sept. 2015.

obama-44-photos-gc-dancing4.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

15) Obama poses with Usain Bolt backstage at a "Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative" in Kingston, Jamaica, in April 2015.

obama-44-photos-gc-dancing-bolt.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

16) He was called upon to comfort people in need, like after the devastating Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

obama-44-photos-gc-comfort1.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

17) Obama comforted victims after a tornado in Alabama in 2011.

obama-44-photos-gc-comfort2.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

18) He met with those who have experienced loss, of all kinds, like Sgt. Carlos Evans, a wounded warrior, in 2010.

obama-44-photos-gc-amputee.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

19) He had a friendly relationship with the Dalai Lama, who he met here in June of 2016.

Obama-44-photos-gc-dalai-lama.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

20) And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he embraced during a January 2015 trip to New Delhi.

obama-44-photos-gc-modi.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

21) And the cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton," which he saw in New York City in July 2015.

obama-44-photos-gc-hamilton.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

22) Sometimes things got a little heated in the Oval Office. Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, throws a fake punch at the president in March 2015.

obama-44-photos-gc-fake-punch.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

23) Here, Obama and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller appreciate a rainbow in April 2015.

Obama-44-photos-gc-rainbow.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

24) He drank ice tea with a straw during a trip to Missouri in July 2014.

Obama-44-photos-gc-ice-tea.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

25) The president learned how to pour his own pint, during a visit to Dublin, Ireland in 2011. 

Obama-44-photos-gc-beer.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

26) Obama was an athlete in his own right — like when he threw out the first pitch at a Nationals game in March, 2010. Here he practices in the Rose Garden.

obama-44-photos-gc-baseball.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

27) He would often play pick-up basketball games, like here with members of Congress and Cabinet secretaries in 2009. 

Obama-44-photos-gc-basketball.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

28) Sometimes, he'd bring the game into the Oval Office, including tossing a football in June 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-football.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

29) Barack and Michelle pose for a sporty Instagram picture in 2015. 

obama-44-photos-gc-boxing.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

30) Obama was “that guy” on the kiss cam at an Olympic exhibition game between the US and Brazil in July 2012. This picture was actually taken on the second attempt to induce a kiss from the presidential couple, after they were booed when they failed to recognize their first appearance on the big screen. 

Obama-44-photos-gc-kiss-cam.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

31) Here, Barack and Michelle goof off at a National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) event in 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-michelle-silly.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

32) He’s a family man, through and through, like when he and daughters Sasha and Malia watched mom Michelle deliver her DNC address in September 2012.

obama-44-photos-gc-family-man.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

33) Obama was also prone to spontaneously dancing. Here he breaks into dance along with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete upon arrival at the airport in Dar Es Salaam. 

obama-44-photos-gc-dancing-tan.jpgImage: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

34) Bo, the First Dog, was definitely man’s best friend as he plays with Obama on the South Lawn in May 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-bo-football.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

35) Here’s the “leader of the free world” being attacked by a baby in 2009.

obama-44-photos-gc-toddler-attack.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

36) And by Spiderman in 2012.

obama-44-photos-obama-spiderman.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

37) Yes, there is a presidential entry to awkward family portraits. This beauty was taken in 2011 in the Oval Office — not your typical living room. 

obama-44-photos-gc-awk-fam-portrait.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

38) Obama was at times a prankster. Trip Director Marvin Nicholson was unaware about his sudden weight gain during this visit to the University of Texas at Austin in 2010. 

obama-44-photos-gc-prankster.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

39) Obama knew how to kick his feet up. Here, he talks on the phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009.

obama-44-photos-gc-feet-up.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

40) He was a master of the fist bump. He greets custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-fist-bump.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

41) And U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010. 

obama-44-photos-gc-fist-bump2.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

42) Sometimes he just wanted to be invisible. 

obama-44-photos-gc-hide-and-seek.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

43) Obama stops for a spontaneous snack at a supermarket in Virginia in 2009. 

obama-44-photos-gc-peach.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

44) Thank you, President Obama. 

obama-44-photos-gc-camera.jpgImage: White House Photo/Pete Souza

Take Action
Send petitions, emails, or tweets to world leaders. Call governments or join rallies. We offer a variety of ways to make your voice heard Get Involved
Conversation
Take Action