Amazing Grace. Hail the Chief.
The Guardian is the paper I really love to hate. It is not a comfortable warm bath more a cold shower. But this week I was in sympathy and genuinely moved by the Guardian’s literary luvvies as they poured out their thoughts for departing president Barack Obama.
Joyce Carol Oates. “ Obama has behaved with dignity and restraint that might be mistaken for aloofeness: he has shown astonishing generosity in attempting to compromise.” Siri Hustvedt “Obama will stand for a politics of human dignity.”
Richard Ford.”His capacity not to trivialise being president by confusing his ego with his job…this balanced impartiality has made Obama seem austere and professorial. Aloof. But not to me. To me his demeanour is of a serious adult.” Attica Locke. “Thankyou for your grace, your intelligence, your curiosity, your patience, your respect for the constitution, your respect for people who don’t look like or pray like you or love like you.”
Edmund White.” He has a model family, wears clothes beautifully, moves with elegance and dances well. What more do you want?” Mailynne Robinson. “Obama is a deeply reflective man, an idealist whose ideal America is a process of advance and self realisation. He has a steady faith in the essential generosity and wisdom of the American people.”
Garth Greenwell.”For eight years Obama has displayed a genuinely presidential demeanour, adding extraordinary personal dignity to the dignity of the office. He modelled respect for the life of the mind, for reason and reasonable debate, for the pursuit of culture.” Gary Younge. “He raised expectations he could not meet, contributing to the despondency and cynicism that dominated this election.”
Lionel Shriver.”I never expected Obama to walk on water and some policy disappointments are no surprise….I will miss his style: his suave deportment; his droll sense of humour; his understatement; his articulacy; his charm; his grace.” Candace Allan .”The grace. The all encompassing abiding and amazing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool.”
Sarah Churchwell “ dignity and style…grown ups in an infantilised world.. distinguished, disciplined serious… not a whiff of scandal, exceptionally high standards.” Aminatta Forna. “Both his public and personal behaviours have set standards which few presidents have ever reached, a combination of gravitas and warmth.”
And now? Well, before the bull is let into the china shop, enjoy Obama the stylish joker.