This weekend I read a great piece in Vanity Fair about Barack Obama, describing his daily life in the White House and showing what it is like to be President of the United States. The article was published in the October 2012 issue of Vanity Fair magazine and also available online (for free!).
Michael Lewis, who happens to be the author of one of my favorite books of all time ‘Liar’s Poker‘, spent half a year with Barack Obama and had almost unrestricted access to him during that time. The result is an interesting (but quite long) read, that gives a good insight into what life is like for a US president. Obama has a crazy schedule and is constantly making important decisions about things for which he often only has limited information. It’s not just physically a hard job but also emotionally. You can’t think too long about the impact of things you say or do, that would probably drive you crazy.
The article is not really about politics, although there is a lot of background on some of the decisions the president has to make. It’s more about who Obama really is and what he stands for. He is extremely disciplined (despite an overloaded schedule he works out every morning for 1 hour) and very competitive (even in sports: he does not play basketball to relax but mainly to win).
The Vanity Fair piece also gives a lot of fun or interesting facts about the Obama and his family. Want to know what book he was reading in bed (this book), how many hours he sleeps per night, who his best friend is, what TV channel he prefers to watch, and who his Nobel Prize Winner speech wrote? It’s all in the article with tens of other facts about life as POTUS.
To be honest, my feeling about Obama was not too positive anymore after his 4 years in office, but I now understand much better why he was not able to fulfill many of his visions and promises. This piece changed the way I think about him. Obama is not only a very smart person, but he is also very down to earth. He comes across as a normal, nice guy. Not somebody who wants to be admired, but somebody who wants to be ‘one of us’.
If the article had one effect on me, I would say it is that I now truly respect Obama and the way he does his job. Whether you are American or not, or whether you like or dislike him, this is a piece I would recommend everyone to read.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, the article is available for free online, which is a smart move of Vanity Fair. Because of articles like this on their website I started buying Vanity Fair magazine regularly over the past 2 years (both in the paper and in the iPad version). Had they put all their content behind a paywall they would have missed out on the money I spent on their print publication. I hope this piece will bring them a lot more new potential readers.