Reggie Love served as Barack Obama’s personal aide from 2009-2011. In this excerpt from “Power Forward: My Presidential Education,” Love explains what it’s like to be the president’s right-hand man.
He became my boss, and then the President of the United State, and I became what he dubbed his “i Reggie,” his go-to source for all critical, nonpolitical information.
I was his DJ, his Kindle, his travel agent, his valet, his daughters’ basketball coach, his messenger, his punching bag, his alarm clock, his vending machine, his chief of stuff, his note passer, his spades partner, his party planner, his workout partner, his caterer, his small forward, his buffer, his gatekeeper, his surrogate son, and ultimately, improbably, luckily, his friend.
For the entirety of my stint in Washington, I was at the senator-then-president’s side for more hours a day than not.
From dawn to what was often the middle of the night, I was a witness not only to history, but to a side of the man few got to see.
An attentive father, a devoted husband, a trash-talking basketball player, a feisty card shark, a loyal and thoughtful friend with a wicked sense of humour.
I also saw him in those early morning hours on the campaign trail when no one believed in him; eating lunch alone in the White House; flipping through a stack of magazines; shooting free throws in deserted small-town high school gymnasiums; taking a few moments to compose himself in the seconds before stepping onstage to be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
We became friends, eventually even something close to family. I carried snacks and the luggage, babysat for the children of world leaders, prepped the teleprompter and the operator, and handled a million other tasks that came up on the fly.
Most of all, I listened.
Gradually, I came to understand with one look from the President what sort of day lay ahead.
Because I was not part of the political process, in many ways I became the President’s touchstone for normalcy. His window onto the outside world.
We played basketball together. (A lot of basketball.) We played cards. We debated the merits of Tony Parker and rehashed Mad Men plotlines. We watched ESPN. I would occasionally let fly with an expletive when we talked. So did he. The subject was usually basketball.
I was twenty-one years younger than him.We didn’t have a lot in common in terms of life experience, but what we did share was safe ground. I wasn’t going to question him about the economy or deliver bad news about the polls.
I was able to see through a rare window that others did not.
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