Prior to 2008, I noticed young Senator Barack Obama and labeled him as someone with presidential potential, but I expected him to complete a few more terms in the Senate before he ran. In the 2008 and 2012 elections, I wanted so badly to vote for a Republican, but both John McCain and Mitch Romney ran very ugly campaigns. (Here in Arizona, McCain is something of a saint. I agree that he had many lovely qualities, but he slung a lot of muck in 2008 and acted like a crabby old man. To top it off, of all the talented women he could have chosen to be his running mate, he selected the ditziest woman in politics.) Obama, in contrast, conducted himself with great dignity; he won my votes.
Shortly before the 2020 election (I had already submitted my early ballot for Biden), MSNBC presented a special tv program about Pete Souza, who had been the chief official White House photographer during the Obama presidency. The show made me nostalgic for what the presidency had been under Obama. His eloquence as a speaker. His character. His warmth. A sharp contrast to the buffoon who, as I write this review, is trying to retain his power by any means possible, including inciting angry mobs to storm the Capitol. Immediately after the show aired, I ordered this book, so that I could savor what our country can be again, soon, hopefully.
Souza had unprecedented access to the White House. During the eight years of Obama’s presidency, Souza was a virtual fly on the wall all day, every day. He had the ability to make himself inobtrusive, unnoticeable. He took hundreds of candid photos of the President at work and at leisure, in addition to the official documentation of his presidential actions.
And what he captured was amazing. He recorded the stress of the job, the intensity of crises, the seriousness of the President’s focus. He also chronicled Obama’s tenderness toward his family and his staffer’s children, his sense of humor, and his kindness. The photographs and Souza’s recollections regarding them comprise an in-depth account of what the Presidency was like during Obama’s two terms.
I didn’t agree with every decision Barack Obama made as President, but I was always confident that his motivation was to try to do what would be best for our country and our world. He served the United States diligently, and I welcome the return of Joe Biden to White House to resume that legacy and undo the harm that’s been done in the interim.