The Haggard President

This Sunday’s Observer – The New Review has a collection of commentaries on the Obama presidency by five authors who deliver a collective, uplifting read. Each is essentially positive about Barack Obama as president, but they are not by any means totally uncritical.

I want to entice with three brief quotes that provide a succinct narrative thread for the whole. Presuming you too would be a fan, or at least supporter of Obama’s time as President, they offer honest and knowing affirmations of what we all share as fond and respecting regard, but also a sense of what is bound to be lost when he is no longer in office. Especially if…

Above and beyond the sad reality of losing Obama as a memorable leader, the first quote sets the incredulous setting for this imminent change to the presidency when Jayne Anne Phillips observes how this election year has been a psychedelic nightmare. The next by Hari Kunzru, the more ‘critical’ in the context of generally positive observations, is a comic but also incisive comment on Obama and how out of his extensive rhetorical tool kit, the president pulls a weird folksy tone, a subliminal suggestion of Merl Haggard, designed, no doubt, to sooth the terror induced by his blackness. The final quote is from the last author writing in this feature, Attica Locke, and it resonates having read the others because she offers us the most hope about Obama and after he leaves the presidency with We’re just seeing the beginning of Obama’s power as a human being.

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