The Obama years, through a glass cleverly.
In this faux oral history of the Barack Obama administration, comedian and actor Hughley (I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America, 2012)—writing again with Malice (Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, 2014, etc.)—consistently amuses and provides a nifty pocket history of the first African-American president’s tenure. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Rahm Emanuel, Mitch McConnell, David Axelrod, and a host of other (slightly) fictionalized key political figures recount Obama’s path from charismatic rising star of the Democratic Party to two-term commander in chief in impressive detail. The running commentary effectively parses the significant events of the Obama presidency through a spectrum of solidly reasoned, clearly delineated opposing perspectives. The humor functions on a higher level than the expected potshots reaffirming media stereotypes of the parties involved (though they are also present); the laughs derive more from the intensity of a respondent’s interpretation of an issue, say, than from facile observations of Biden’s buffoonery, the Clintons’ ruthlessness and appetites, etc. The narrative’s most compelling character is first lady Michelle Obama, presented here as unfailingly reasonable, perceptive, and canny about the realities of Washington, D.C.—e.g., “race has been tripping up politicians of every political persuasion since America became a country”; “I don’t know that electing someone like Governor Romney would really be all that much of a change, given American history.” Offhand lines mocking John Edwards’ sleaziness or Cheney’s viciousness raise chuckles, but it is Michelle’s voice that will stick most with readers: wise, rueful, and human, telling the incredible story of an unprecedented moment in American politics and race relations.
Funny, insightful, and legitimately illuminating.