Young Barack Obama thought he was going to be a writer

Michael Lewis discussed his “Obama’s Way” story in the current Vanity Fair at a PEN@Bloomberg event last night. He explained how the piece came about:

On a whim, last November, I thought: what would be a fun magazine piece to do? Boy, it would be fun to go hang out with the President. So I got Jay Carney’s email and I sent the press secretary a note and I said, “There used to be a kind of journalism that could be done with the President.”

John Hersey, an old New Yorker writer whom I greatly admire, wrote a series of articles on President Truman, back when Truman was in office…It was very simple, plain and straight-forward. The sort of thing my kids could be interested in. It taught you what it felt like to be President. And the thing opened with Hershey meeting Truman at his front door in the morning and going on a walk along the Potomac with basically one security guard in the distance behind them, coming back and going to the White House gym and sitting in saunas naked kind of thing. It was two guys hanging out together.

I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if I could take Obama and do the same thing? Just two guys kind of hanging out together.’ It was like fishing with a lure. …I really didn’t expect to catch anything.

According Bloomberg PR, Lewis also said of Obama:

When he was a young man, he thought he was going to be a writer I think – he won’t completely admit that but he was writing short stories and submitting them to literary journals and getting rejected. Had any of them been accepted, he wouldn’t be President, I bet. He’d be off writing short stories no one ever read for very little money.

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