US President Barack Obama seems to have caught a bad case of cabin fever.
Since taking office, Obama has periodically grumbled about the claustrophobia that sets in when his every move is surrounded by intense security, rendering it nearly impossible to enjoy the simple pleasures that private citizens take for granted. But in recent days, the president has made a point to get out more.
"The bear is loose!" Obama declared last week after leaving the White House on foot, ditching his motorcade and his suit jacket as he headed to the Interior Department.
Traditionally, whenever the president leaves the White House, he travels by motorcade or helicopter, insulating him from the sights around him. Before he arrives at his destination, Secret Service agents have already prepared layer upon layer of security that generally keeps Obama at a distance from anything unpredictable.
"I don't get a chance to take walks very often," Obama quipped. "Secret Service gets a little stressed. But every once in a while I'm able to sneak off."
Nearly six years into his presidency, Obama seems to be sneaking off just a bit more often. He dropped into a Shake Shack hamburger restaurant earlier this month, and swung by a Little League game three days later.
"Staff loves it, Secret Service hates it," said Ari Fleischer, press secretary for former president George W. Bush. "They want everything buttoned down and under total … control."