In The Reality of HopeAlter takes the reader into the inner circles of Obama's intimates, those who were there from the start, and the gradually expanding circles, to show for the first time the emotions, rivalries, alliances of the extremely tight-lipped and disciplined administration: Biden, whom he chose because he had the experience even though he was not an early supporter, Hillary, whom he had long wanted for Secretary of State. There are stunning portraits of Obama's oldest friends, including Valerie Jarrett, and his early supporters; the Kennedys, Daschle, and of the more volatile newcomers, Rahm of course, and Larry Summers, and Geitner.
Watch the president dominate his Cabinet with silences and stares (instead of shouting like Clinton or LBJ). Add to that the knowledge that leaking can lose you your job. (One advisor called Obama, 'The most unsentimental man I have ever known.')
Obama is, in this portrait, self-aware and shrewd, well organized and confident, a natural leader who doesn't need or crave praise and is not given to spreading it around. (One intimate notes his praise is more likely to be 'What's next?' than 'Good job.') Nevertheless he is equable and attentive, and he listens. (It's one of his techniques.) In fact, if one doesn't have anything to say at his meetings, you may not be invited back. Alter characterizes Obama as a deductive thinker, and a fast one -- eager for action. It is said that Clinton's meetings always ran on too long and that Obama's may be too short.
Jonathan Alter is an analyst and contributing correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. He is a former senior editor and columnist for Newsweek, where he worked for twenty-eight years, writing more than fifty cover stories. He has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, and other publications. He is the author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One and The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, both New York Times bestsellers, and Between the Lines, a collection of his Newsweek columns.
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