Barack Obama: Conservation for Thee, Not for Me

The Times misses Obama's thermostat hypocrisy.

Conservation for thee but not for me? That seems to be President Obama's philosophy, based on Thursday's positive front-page profile by White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg - though the president's hypocrisy was missed by the Times reporter.

Stolberg led off her preview of the more informal White House, "From the Top, the White House Loosens Its Buttoned-Up Style," with an anecdote about Obama and his love of indoor heating.

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

He's from Hawaii, O.K.?" said Mr. Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. "He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there."

Stolberg is apparently oblivious to Obama's hypocrisy. On the campaign trail in Oregon in May, he made this Jimmy Carter-style lecture, in a grasp for the greenie vote:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times...and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."

Stolberg skipped over Obama's global warming hypocrisy, usingthe anecdotesolely to make a favorable contrast between the "more informal culture" of Obama and that of former President Bush.

Thus did an ironclad rule of the George W. Bush administration - coat and tie in the Oval Office at all times - fall by the wayside, only the first of many signs that a more informal culture is growing up in the White House under new management. Mr. Obama promised to bring change to Washington and he has - not just in substance, but in presidential style.

Although his presidency is barely a week old, some of Mr. Obama's work habits are already becoming clear. He shows up at the Oval Office shortly before 9 in the morning, roughly two hours later than his early-to-bed, early-to-rise predecessor. Mr. Obama likes to have his workout - weights and cardio - first thing in the morning, at 6:45. (Mr. Bush slipped away to exercise midday.)

He reads several papers, eats breakfast with his family and helps pack his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, off to school before making the 30-second commute downstairs - a definite perk for a man trying to balance work and family life. He eats dinner with his family, then often returns to work; aides have seen him in the Oval Office as late as 10 p.m., reading briefing papers for the next day.