Last month, the man who just may know more about President Obama than anyone (except for his family, of course) released a book detailing his five years spent at the president’s side. Reggie Love worked for five years as the president’s “bodyman” or personal aide which is a round-the-clock job filling any number of roles. In season one of The West Wing, Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman describes the job — held in the series by Charlie Young — as one of the toughest in the administration. Not only are the hours long, but the president’s personal aide is there for the president, doing anything that needs to be done, from providing companionship, keeping the president organised and on schedule, ushering guests in meetings, travelling with the president and on and on. This lends to a deeply personal relationship with the president — former aide to President George H.W Bush, Tim McBride states that the president treated him “like a son.”
In Reggie Love’s book entitled, Power Forward: My Presidential Education, Love details what his job was like and the unique relationship he developed with President Obama. He includes anecdotes about playing pick-up basketball with President Obama, his favourite trips to almost 60 countries he took as personal aide, and the lessons he learned from this intimate, challenging, and overall rewarding job.
Given this relationship that Reggie Love had with President Obama over the course of his five years as “bodyman”, many question whether he should be writing a book about it at all. Some relationships are almost too personal to share with the public, and while he certainly learned valuable lessons, one could argue that this is one of those relationships best left unpublished. To reference The West Wing again, there is a scene in which Charlie Young is talking with another member of staff about a woman who works in the White House Residence as a clock-winder. She has served under several presidents, as did her mother and her grandmother before her. Charlie had remarked to her that she must have seen and heard so much and that it would make a great book. The woman responded, “Oh no, Charlie, we don’t do that.” This woman has a point — must we publish and publicise everything? While President Obama had no direct role in writing the book, and while Reggie speaks more than highly of the president in its words, it is teetering on a fine line.
At the same time, one could point out that it serves an important purpose of humanising the president. It is so easy to get caught up in Barack Obama the president, rather than the man, the husband, the father, etc. He is a person just like the rest of us — he has good days and bad days, likes playing pick-up basketball (and needed stitches one time, according to Love!), is a loving and devoted father and husband, and is so much more than the leader of this country. Love clearly respects and admires President Obama and believes the rest of us should, as well, hence his book. Because of this, it wouldn’t divulge any truly revealing or embarrassing information, which is important to remember.
Reggie Love, therefore, is the man who has seen it all — all sides of the president and all ends of the globe and the White House — and clearly has a story to share.