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Obama joins a number of other Presidents who can list “writer” on their resumes next to “President.” Abraham Lincoln set the bar impossibly high during his presidency, and his two-minute speech at Gettysburg is regarded as a classic example of concise writing—every word packed with meaning and subtleties.
Theodore Roosevelt was a professional writer before taking on the nation’s leadership. He churned out books from the time he was a senior at Harvard up until his death. And Jimmy Carter wrote An Hour Before Daylight, a memoir about growing up in the Great Depression, which became a best seller during the 1976 election year. It’s said to have helped him win the election against Gerald Ford. He also wrote his own campaign biography—a highly unusual practice.
Many other former Presidents penned memoirs, but the majority of them were filtered through a professional ghostwriter. Most of our modern politicians rely heavily on speechwriters and staff to do the writing for them, which is not surprising—politicians and writers are usually quite different characters based on their chosen professions—one in the public eye, the other private.
Barack Obama is a rare combination of politician and writer. He published his first book, Dreams From My Father, in 1996, while he was a state senator, and it was not coauthored by a ghostwriter. His second book, The Audacity of Hope, was also a success, and in a review Michiko Kakutani from The New York Times called Obama “that rare politician who can write…and write movingly and genuinely about himself.”
He now comes equipped with his own team of writers, and there’s no doubt that writing Obama’s own material will have to take a backseat to more pressing issues. Still, writers all over the world can look forward to a riveting presidential memoir after he’s served his term.
The New Republic’s David Samuels has this to say: “My own belief is that Barack Obama has the makings of an unusual and unusually effective President, because he might combine a writer’s sense of the dramatic moment, and of how language helps to shape reality, with the brain—and perhaps the soul—of a Harvard-educated technocrat.”
President Obama’s open letter to his daughters was published in Parade magazine last month, and in it he explains why he decided to “take our family on this journey” to the presidency. In his beautifully written and heartfelt letter, Obama describes his vision for the country and what he wants for the children of the nation in terms of education and opportunity—not just for his own two children.
“These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.”
At Writer’s Relief, the staff holds a variety of political beliefs and affiliations. But we all agree on one thing: it’s inspiring to have a President who is also a writer. If you’re a writer too and you need help finding the right markets to publish your writing, Writer’s Relief can help.