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The Obama Wedding Anniversary: The Date Night

5 years ago
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For the first time since 2006, the Obamas celebrated a wedding anniversary without a presidential campaign hanging over their heads. President Obama and First Lady Michelle were married on Oct. 3, 1992 and last Saturday -- 17 years later -- the First Couple dressed up and took themselves out for a fancy dinner.

The first week of October marks not one but two anniversaries for the president. On Oct. 2, 2002, Obama delivered a speech at a Chicago rally opposing the Iraq war. That speech paved the way for Obama's successful U.S. Senate contest in 2004 and set the stage for his winning the 2008 White House bid.

Now back to 2009.

At about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Obamas motorcaded from the White House a few miles to Washington's West End neighborhood for a meal at the Blue Duck Tavern, housed in the Park Hyatt Washington. The restaurant staff only had a few hours' notice that the First Couple was headed their way.

The Obamas, who carry the foodie gene, were making their first visit to Blue Duck, an upscale, casual restaurant without a break-the-bank menu. The First Couple had an intimate dinner by themselves in a private area of the restaurant where they did not mix with the public.

I can see why they would want to try Blue Duck. Theme-wise, it's right down Mrs. Obama's alley, what with her interest in healthy eating, her White House garden, and support for urban farmers markets. The Blue Duck restaurant concept is "farm to table," meaning the chefs buy direct from farms and food purveyors. The food is produced locally and the menu lists where everything is from. The cuisine is "American," meaning steak, braised ribs and jumbo crab cakes are on the menu. Wish I could tell you, but I don't know what the Obamas ate. Mrs. Obama, who basically eats healthy, is not fanatic about it: she likes French fries, and Blue Duck offers fries soaked in duck fat.

Obama anniversary retrospective:

2008: Obama spent the beginning of his 16th anniversary on the campaign trail in Abington, Pa., stopping at a flower shop after a rally. My Chicago Sun-Times colleague Abdon Pallasch reported that Obama spent $45 for a bouquet of flowers. The campaign made a photo op of it, with the photogs ready at the counter when Obama was in the store. Obama walked out with white roses and baby's breath, worried the bouquet would wilt on the two-hour flight to Chicago.

After a haircut and a workout, the Obamas dressed up and headed to one of Chicago's best known upscale eateries, Spiaggia, the Italian restaurant on Michigan Avenue.

2007: Obama started his 15th wedding anniversary stumping in Iowa for his Democratic primary presidential campaign and jetted home for an anniversary date night with his wife.

2006: The Obamas marked their 14th anniversary during a time when Obama was mulling a presidential run. He was on a book tour for "The Audacity of Hope," in which he revealed that his political career had put a strain on their marriage. The couple married at Trinity United Church of Christ in a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose videotaped controversial sermons would end up threatening Obama's presidential campaign.

In "Audacity," Obama wrote about how the Obamas adjusted to each other in the beginning.

"Michelle liked to wake up early and could barely keep her eyes open after ten o'clock. I was a night owl and could be a bit grumpy (mean, Michelle would say) within the first half hour or so of getting out of bed," Obama wrote.

After the birth of Malia, Obama wrote about how "the strains in our relationship began to show."

It got to the point where Mrs. Obama cut him down. He wrote that she told him back then, "You only think about yourself...I never thought I'd have to raise a family alone."

But as we know, everything turned out fine.
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