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The eye-opening journalism of 'The Obama Memos'

The most impressive political journalism published in the past week very likely was Ryan Lizza's lengthy New Yorker piece, "The Obama Memos," in the magazine's Jan. 30 issue. 

 Lizza, the New Yorker's Washington correspondent, obtained hundreds of pages of internal White House memos between President Obama and such key figures as top economic advisor Lawrence Summers and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 He used this trove of information to draw broad, well-reasoned conclusions about how -- rather than  Obama changing Washington as he promised to do during his campaign --- the divisive politics of the capital changed him.

 Lizza makes the case that Obama began as an idealist and has become a political pragmatist.  The story, as journalists like to say, "has legs," meaning that its impact has continued and new developments have sprung up in the days after publication.

For those who haven't read it, there's no doubt that this 12-page magazine story demands a serious commitment of time and attention.  But Lizza's story is vital if you want to understand what happened to the Barack Obama whom many people thought they had elected but who never materialized.


Here's the New Yorker story.  Alternatively,  here's a CliffsNotes version from the Daily Beast, capturing the highlights.  But I recommend the former.  (As Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sang, "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing.")   It's worth your time.