Vanity Fair has a must-read interview with President Obama conducted by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin:
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OBAMA: I found during the course of my political career on the national scene…there’s a point where the vanity burns away and you’ve had your fill of your name in the papers, or big adoring crowds, or the exercise of power. And for me that happened fairly quickly. And then you are really focused on: What am I going to get done with this strange privilege that’s been granted to me? How do I make myself worthy of it?And if you don’t go through that, then you start getting into trouble, because then you’re just [gesturing, as if climbing a ladder] clinging to prerogatives and the power and the attention. There’s an expression that my daughters use: You get thirsty.
GOODWIN: And the thirst is unquenchable.
OBAMA: And the thirst is unquenchable. And that’s what you see, I think, sometimes with somebody like a Nixon—a brilliant person who, early on, had ambitions that probably were not that different from an F.D.R., certainly not that different from an L.B.J. But that thirst overwhelms everything, and you start making decisions based solely on that.