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Book Notes

February 6, 2014

Going the Distance to White House

Every president of the United States goes through difficult periods. It comes with the job. There are the daily demands of national security issues, the economy, policy initiatives, personnel, Congressional meetings, and social events. Heaven forbid a scandal breaks out. It takes a massive ego to be president since the pressures outweigh the perks. It’s little wonder that presidents age in office. The stress is unrelenting.

Beyond the demands of the office is the personal abuse presidents take in print and the social media. It is especially true with baby-boomers Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama since they arrived on the scene after the Internet went mainstream. To some people they weren’t worthy of being president. Clinton was too slick, Bush too stupid, and Obama too whatever (fill in the blank). It was not enough to dislike their policies. Their mere existence was open to debate.

For example, Obama recently said that he wouldn’t allow his hypothetical son to play pro football due to concussions and the general brutality of the game. Although that sounds like the normal reaction of a concerned parent the response from his critics was swift and unrelenting. He was called him a wimp and un-American. The irony is these same critics would have trashed him as an irresponsible parent if he had taken the opposite tact. Some presidents can never win.

In fact, President Obama may suffer from more distain than past occupants of the White House because today’s social media allows for invectives that never stop. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had their detractors but the “piling on” wasn’t as blatant or visible because the social media wasn’t as advanced.

A lengthy article by David Remnick in the Jan. 27 issue of The New Yorker gives insight into what it’s really like to be president. Going the Distance: The President Talks About His Tasks Ahead is a rare in-depth look at President Obama, his daily routine, and the effect his time in office has on his life and thought process. Although the article is unique to Obama it is similar to what many presidents have to go through. It isn’t often that the public gets such an inside look at their commander-in-chief.

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Book Notes
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  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

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    June 26, 2014

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    June 19, 2014

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    June 12, 2014

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    June 5, 2014

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    May 22, 2014

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