Bill Clinton, the last president in office with a child of grade-school age, tried to be present in his daughter’s life. Craig Smith, a political consultant who worked for Clinton in Arkansas and Washington, recalled that when he and then-Gov. Clinton would travel for the day out of Little Rock they would start out at the Governor’s Mansion: “I’d get there in the morning and the first thing we would do is drop Chelsea off at school. He took Chelsea to school every day. He said, ‘Let me give you a piece of advice if you’re going to have a life in politics. Take your kids to school in the morning, because you never know what time you’re going to get home at night.'”
As president, Clinton did spend time with his daughter during evenings when he could. Like Obama, he helped with the day’s homework. When he was out of town, he’d supply the assistance by telephone.
But unlike Obama, Clinton always found time to connect with people. While the self-contained current president is said to hold only a few friends close, the extroverted former president craves constant human contact. He would spend hours on the phone with members of Congress and his Cabinet, cajoling them on a vote or asking their advice or gaming out their appearance the next day on “Meet the Press.” He also stayed in touch with friends — from around the country, but particularly from Arkansas. When he couldn’t make it to Little Rock to reconnect with home, home would come to him. Old friends would stay overnight at the White House, although they might not sleep much, given that games of hearts with the president would extend into the wee hours of the morning.
As busy as they have been, all presidents have set aside personal time. Many — Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, both Bushes, Clinton, Obama — have played golf. Harry Truman took his daily constitutional and played poker with his pals. John F. Kennedy sailed. Nixon bowled. Ford swam. Jimmy Carter, perhaps the most diligent worker of the bunch, played tennis. Ronald Reagan rode his horse. George H.W. Bush drove his speedboat. His son cleared brush. Lyndon B. Johnson found time for such activities as phoning a Texas clothier to order, in exacting and earthy detail, half a dozen pairs of pants. Nixon spent time, well-lubricated by Scotch whiskey, in Florida with his friend Cuban-American businessman Bebe Rebozo.
“Why doesn’t Obama like to schmooze?” – Michael Takiff