Turbulent Times for Obama as He Turns 50

*Turning 50 is hard enough. But it’s got to be even harder when you’re president, because the whole world knows about it, and harder still when one of life’s milestones is nearly overshadowed by a nasty tussle with Congress over money.

Well, too bad for President Barack Obama. That’s exactly how the big 5-0 is shaping up for him.

Obama’s birthday on Thursday falls two days after the deadline for the president and lawmakers to agree on borrowing more money to keep paying the country’s bills or else send the U.S. spiraling into a potentially calamitous, first-ever default on its financial obligations.

“What I really want right now is to, to get a debt-ceiling deal for my birthday,” Obama told NPR recently. He got an early birthday present on Sunday, when leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress hammered out a deal to avoid default.

The monthslong debate — Obama said it’s been “taking up all the oxygen in the room” — threatened to force him to skip his own party, a pair of birthday fundraisers planned in his Chicago hometown on Wednesday, including an event featuring musicians and Chicago natives Herbie Hancock and Jennifer Hudson.

“I feel real good about 5-0,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little grayer since I took this job, but otherwise, I feel pretty good.”

Obama added that his wife, Michelle, has told him that she still thinks “I’m cute.”

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