Today’s Guest: Jonathan Alter, The Promise: President Obama, Year One
Here’s the opening of a conversation that would get me divorced:
“Honey, I’m going to spend the next 17 months researching and reporting about President Obama’s first year in office. Oh, and I’m going to keep my full-time job at the magazine and keep showing up as a talking head on TV, too.”
Of course, I’m not Jonathan Alter, national affairs columnist at Newsweek, frequent political analyst on MSNBC and author of a fascinating, new, behind the scenes book, The Promise, President Obama, Year One.
If your only previous exposure to Alter has been in small doses via his appearances on MSNBC and “Meet the Press,” you’ll be impressed at how well his approach to politics and journalism holds up over the course of an entire book. There is straight reporting, of course, but also the occasional zinger or observation that captures the point in a sharp-edged arrow—I mean sentence.
JONATHAN ALTER podcast excerpt: “My wife has a really busy job, too. She is a supervising producer for ‘The Colbert Report.’ Her job is to book the guests on that show. Stephen Colbert–and rightly so–has high standards for the guests they get… We do a lot of shop talk (in bed). A lot of it revolves around, who should she get for the show and who should I interview for the book?”
And it isn’t a mere bow to Barack Obama as “The Promised One.” Alter identifies mistakes in strategy, errors in judgment and more than a few of the new president’s character flaws.
As a teen, I found Joe McGinness’s The Selling of the Presidency 1968 oddly compelling. It, in turn, propelled me to read histories of most 20th century presidents. So, for me, The Promise is like a Charleston Chew. Its flavor lasts all day and leaves you wanting more.
Alter is joining us on Mr. Media today to promote his appearance on Tuesday, May 25 at Forum Truth in Sarasota, Florida. His talk starts at 7:30 p.m. and the cost of admission includes a copy of his book, The Promise.