Posted inFiction, Nonfiction, Quotes

Obama by the Books

In Vulture, book critic Christian Lorentzen suggests we dispense with terms like “postmodern” and “postwar” when discussing novels, and instead analyze them relative to the presidential administrations under which they were released. What will we mean when someday we refer to Obama Lit? I think we’ll be discussing novels about authenticity, or about “problems of […]

Posted inNonfiction, Quotes

‘For Eight Years Barack Obama Walked on Ice and Never Fell’

Obama was born into a country where laws barring his very conception—let alone his ascendancy to the presidency—had long stood in force. A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep […]

Posted inNonfiction, Quotes

Obama’s Typographic Legacy

The relative distinctiveness of campaign logos is a recent development: There was a time when they all looked basically the same, give or take a star, often featuring the same stylized, waving flag. The 1990s and early 2000s were a different time, with less media noise and fewer shiny objects vying for voters’ attention, so there […]

Posted inNonfiction, Quotes

How Ordinary Americans End Up in the State of the Union Address

My old boss is a sucker for good endings, and he would send us far and wide to find just the right anecdote. In 2011, a worker from a Pennsylvania firm whose drilling technology helped save the Chilean miners said, “We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things.” The President loved the quote, and turned it into an entire ending about American greatness and aspiration.

Posted inBooks, Nonfiction, Quotes, Uncategorized

The ‘SNL’ Skit on Racial Profiling That Never Made It to Television

Robert Smigel, writer: It wasn’t until my last season that the network refused to air a “TV Funhouse.” It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical […]

Posted inUncategorized Coming Tuesday on PBS: “Inside Obama’s Presidency.” We’ve teamed up with Frontline for a #longreads list of stories from Obama’s first term. Get the list here.  (Source:

Posted inUncategorized

Harper Reed went from running a T-shirt community to running digital operations for Obama’s reelection campaign. Inside the team’s top-secret efforts to refine voter targeting to a granular (or: “creepy”) level: By the 2000 election, political data firms like Aristotle had begun purchasing consumer data in bulk from companies like Acxiom. Now campaigns didn’t just […]