President Obama pushed back today against criticism that he is too insular and not social enough in Washington, explaining simply, "I like a good party."
"I'm a pretty friendly guy," he told reporters at his first White House news conference of the year. "When I was in the Senate, I had great relationships over there, and up until the point that I became president, this was not an accusation that you heard very frequently.
"Personal relationships are important and, obviously, I can always do a better job, and the nice thing is, is that now that my girls are getting older, they don't want to spend that much time with me anyway," he said to laughter. "So, I'll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with or something … because I'm getting kind of lonely in this big house."
Obama noted that socializing has not dissuaded his opponents from attacking him and said the paralysis in Washington on the nation's finances has more to do with differences in policy than a lack of elbow-rubbing.
"When I'm over here at the congressional picnic and folks are coming up and taking pictures with their family, I promise you, Michelle and I are very nice to them, and we have a wonderful time. But it doesn't prevent them from going … [on] the floor of the House and, you know, blasting me for being a big-spending socialist," he added.
"I think there are a lot of Republicans at this point that feel that, given how much energy has been devoted in some of the media that's preferred by Republican constituencies to demonize me, that it doesn't look real good socializing with me."