, WASHINGTON, Aug 4 – US President Barack Obama turns 49 Wednesday, visibly grayer than when he took office 18 months ago but enjoying the job despite the "enormous" physical and mental strain, the White House said.
Obama, born August 4, 1961, rose to become the most powerful person in the world in just 47 and a half years, but in recent days he has made several public nods to the inevitability of aging — he remarked on his own slowing metabolism — and the stress of the job — his salt-and-pepper hair.
"He knew what he was getting himself into in deciding several years ago to undertake this" ultimately victorious campaign for the presidency, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
"There\’s no doubt that it takes an enormous physical and mental strain on making the decisions that you make, on sending young men and women off to war, or tackling the greatest economic calamity our country has faced since the Great Depression," Gibbs said.
But Obama was "still in pretty good shape and is enjoying the job even with its many challenges," the spokesman added.
As for the president\’s head of steadily graying hair, "it will just require him to get more frequent haircuts," Gibbs quipped.
The president will mark the beginning of his 50th year in his adopted home town of Chicago, where he visits a Ford automobile plant before enjoying a bit of a rarity: spending the night in his own house.
But the celebration may be a muted affair as First Lady Michelle Obama and youngest daughter Sasha are vacationing in Spain, while older daughter Malia is away at summer camp.
"I think his plans for tomorrow are dinner with some friends in Chicago," Gibbs said, without providing further details.