Natalie Rohman

A Chicago Girl Paving Inspiration

Thanks, Obama | A Litt Review

Reading has always been a hard commitment for me. Once you pick a book, you read the whole 800+ pages and are tied down to turn the page after page. Over this spring break, I was motivated to try it again. I'll be honest, reading books that I do not know of or have heard of always makes me a bit nervous and I simply avoid them at all costs—especially nonfiction. 

However, my elementary and middle school mindset on reading has really changed and I am finding myself in writing as well as what I prefer to read. It's funny how a writer could despise reading because when I was little, I was never good at it. The motivation was never there to sit down and read a good book until I've realized that it's just as important as writing. 

Just recently my best friend Alyssa gave me this book called Thanks, Obama written by Obama's former speechwriter, David Litt. No matter what your political standing is, this book is nowhere near an obnoxious preaching of President Barack Obama (while there are subtle hints here and there), anyone can read this who is mature—and also immature—to discover the "salmon in the toilet" at the White House.
I have always been curious about what goes on in the White House and how the President's entire executive system functions. Litt puts everything into perspective when it comes to actually trying to get a job at the White House, the struggles that come with it, the rewards, the weird and unexpectedness of it all, his relationship with "P" (Obama), and a little bit of humor and realness. He was just a kid writing at his parent's house and then one day ended up in the Oval Office producing a 90th birthday message with the President for Betty White. 

I personally loved how David would switch back and forth between his personal thoughts and understandings of what it's like working with the Commander in Chief to what snack he was going to have next on Airforce One. Little breaks like that make the story so much more relatable and playful to read. This book gives you a sneak peek into another side of the White House staff and how much support and work goes into all of a president's speeches and addresses, even if they aren't planned.
While I do have to confess, some technical parts of the story were slow (when he talks about the elections and campaigning for Obama), the mix of uplift and utter nonsense that occurs keeps you engaged and wanting to know the whole story up until the end of the President's term. While I read this on the beach in Miami, I was pinned to certain chapters because I find this topic so interesting; knowing just a little more about what goes on in the Big House is so cool to know. Such as how much investigation goes into hiring staff at the White House and walking through the halls knowing that you can legally be killed by the Secret Service at any given moment. 

You do not have to be a history or political buff to explore the life of a "hopey" speechwriter. I would recommend this to people who are simply interested in what it's like to work at the White House, or maybe even figuring out the secret to great speech writing (because there really isn't one). This is definitely a beach read and a good read at that. 

We walk along the city streets knowing nobody or what they do—it's amazing that a lot of people that walk by us all have different stories to tell and I think that's what makes biographies really interesting to me. That one person who looks like an average Joe literally wrote speeches for the President. For all of those average Joes or Sally's out there, I've learned that anyone can pretty much achieve anything if the work and persistence are there. As Litt says, "The cost of living the dream, I was taught, is the responsibility to expand it for others. It’s a more than fair price". As he explained it, working in the White House was and was not at times the best job ever. It came with its own reins, if you pulled it the wrong way, you were destined in a totally opposite direction. 

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