From the Ukrainian Civil War and the murder of Western hostages at the hands of Islamic State abroad, to the impassioned immigration debate and the shocking CIA torture report at home, it’s been a busy year for U.S. politics.
And standing at the centre of it all is President Obama, attempting to maintain order amongst electoral upsets as he draws in to the twilight years of his presidency.
Thanks to the work of official White House photographer Pete Souza and his team, it’s now possible to see the inside story of some of the year’s biggest events—an unprecedented (if not unfiltered) look at the inner workings of the White House.
This is 2014, as seen by President Barack Obama.
At the start of January, Obama tosses about an American Football in the Oval Office.
Obama meets leaders on the American Intelligence community on Jan. 8. Since Edward Snowden’s first explosive revelations about government surveillance in mid-2013, there has been constant global debate over the acceptable limits of government-sanctioned spying, with further shocking disclosures and legal challenges to the U.S. program throughout 2014.
The President’s security detail has come under scrutiny this year after no less than 4 “fence jumpers” managed to breach the White House perimeter—with one actually making it inside the building. Here, a civilian is even caught on camera landing a blow squarely on Barack Obama’s face, with secret service agents nowhere to be seen.
On Martin Luther King Day—Jan. 20—Obama and daughter Sasha help make burritos at a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen.
Obama walks through the snow-covered grounds of the White House in January with Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough.
Obama salutes injured Army Ranger Cory Remsburg as he gives the State of the Union address. Remsburg reportedly received more than two minutes of applause—”far longer than I’ve ever heard at a State of the Union,” wrote Peter Beinart in the Atlantic,” and some audience members “openly wept.”
Bo and Sunny—Portuguese Water Dogs and the Obama family’s pets—chill out in the State Dining Room.
Throughout 2014, California has been caught in the grip of one of its worst ever droughts on record, with a State of Emergency declared in January. Here, official White House helicopter Marine 1 flies above parched fields on Feb. 14.
Obama met with the Dalai Lama for the third time in February 2014, despite warnings from China that the meeting would “grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations, and severely impair China-U.S. relations.”
The White House responded that Obama “reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions, and the protection of human rights for Tibetans,” reports CNN.
Not all one-on-ones are so serious: In late February, Obama appeared on FunnyOrDie’s satirical web series Between Two Ferns, where he was interviewed by Zach Galifianakis. You can watch the interview here.
The Ukrainian Revolution in early 2014 and subsequent civil war has pushed Western-Russian relations to historic post-Cold War lows, with Russia accused of covert involvement and manipulating the situation for political ends. In the picture above, taken on Mar. 1, Obama discusses the situation with Russian President Vladamir Putin over the phone.
The Nuclear Security Summit held at the Hague, the Netherlands. Obama came be found sitting in the top-center-right of the photo.
Obama and White House staffers discuss the Affordable Care Act—also known as “Obamacare”—at the start of April. The 2013 rollout of healthcare.gov—the lynchpin of the program—is widely recognized to have been an unmitigated disaster, plagued with bugs and technical issues. The site was also hacked in July 2014.
The Commander-in-Chief stands beside a wounded veteran in April.
During an official visit to Kuala Lumpa, Obama and the Malaysian Prime Minister converse at his residence on Apr. 26.
White House photographer Pete Souza captures a very Reservoir Dogs-esque shot of Obama and secret service agents walking to Air Force One in May 2014.
Obama sees double.
While visiting Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in May, the Commander-in-Chief looks at photos of fallen soldiers.
On Jun. 4, Obama gave a speech at the 25th anniversary Freedom Day celebration in Warsaw, Poland—an event that commemorates the end of communism in the country.
In Marine One, Obama approaches Omaha Beach in Normandy, France ahead of ceremonies commorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Almost every photo on the White House flickr page is carefully selected to show the President in the best possible light: This awkwardly staged fist-bump with Tumblr founder David Karp, taken on Jun. 10, is a rare exception.
Just an ordinary day walking across your ordinary lawns after disembarking from your ordinary helicopter for the world’s most powerful couple.
Boarding Marine One in New York at night on June 17.
One of the President’s most important duties: Meeting Make-A-Wish recipients.
Obama meets with Congressional leadership at the White House on Jun. 18. Following the Democrat wipe-out in November’s Midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (centre-left) is set to be replaced by current Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Easily the most iconic photograph to come out of the White House this year, the son of a departing Secret Service agent obviously wasn’t too impressed with the chance to meet the leader of the free world in June.
Even the simplest things, such as popping out for an ice cream cone, become a logistical nightmare and media scrum when you’re the President of the United States. Along with the responsibility comes a great loss of freedom—perhaps best illustrated by the fact that former presidents frequently lament they haven’t been able to drive themselves on public roads in decades.
When Malia Obama began learning to drive in May 2014, Michelle Obama revealed that their Secret Service detail wouldn’t allow them to give their kids lessons themselves.
Obama and senior military officials have a nip at the Marine Barracks Washington in Washington, D.C. in late June.
On the Fourth of July, 2014, the White House opted to celebrate the auspicious occasion with a performance on the lawns by that great American icon—Pitbull.
That evening, Barack, Michelle, and Malia watch Independence Day fireworks from the roof of the White House.
On July 9, the President met with local officials and faith leaders in Texas to discuss immigration—an issue that dominated political debate in late November, after Obama signed an executive order offering millions of undocumented immigrants “temporary relief from deportation.”
Obama addresses attendees during the Kids’ State Dinner on July 18, one of the many events and fuctions held at the White House throughout the year.
Michelle Obama poses with the cast of the Lion King after their performance at the Kids’ State Dinner.
The numerous pens used by President Barack Obama to sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Multiple pens are often used because “the pen used to sign historic legislation itself becomes a historical artifact,” Time reports. “The more pens a President uses, the more thank-you gifts he can offer to those who helped create that piece of history.”
Americans crowd to photograph Obama ahead of a speech. Throughout 2014, Obama’s approval ratings have polled just above 40 percent, according to Gallup, at no point exceeding the ~52 percent disapproval ratings seen this year.
Obama takes a moment to play with the child of a White House staffer—who seems much happier to be there than the kid-star of June’s viral photo.
Following a statement on the murder of American photojournalist James Foley, Obama is pictured in conversation with Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. Foley’s death at the hands of Islamic State (formerly ISIS, also known as ISIL, QSIL and Daesh) was just the first in a series of hostage executions by the militant Islamist group throughout the second half of 2014, including journalist Steven Sotloff and aid workers Alan Henning, David Haines, and Abdul-Rahman Kassig.
At a press conference in late August, Obama discussed the Syrian Civil War, Russian aggression in Ukraine, and other substantive foreign policy issues. He wore a tan suit while doing so. The Internet then proceeded to lose its collective mind.
The National Security Council convenes in the Situation Room on Sept. 10, the day before the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
On the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Obama meets with Christian faith leaders from the Middle East at the White House.
After Ebola is diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, the president talks on the phone with Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom on Sept. 30.
Obama makes Thanksgiving calls to U.S. troops with a big ol’ grin.
Photo via White House/Flickr ( United States Government Work)