Presidential burden

In Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race, University of Pennsylvania sociology professor Thomas J. Sugrue makes the case that the surest way to misunderstand our 44th president’s relationship to race in America is to fail to grasp the level of intellectualism and nuance that he brings to even his personal experience. Sugrue has constructed an intellectual biography that argues for President Obama’s construction of a racial identity early in his political career, one that works within the framework of a less-radical narrative of the civil-rights movement. “Obama’s power,” Sugrue writes, “has been his reappropriation for liberals of a unifying language of Americanism, one that, like all exercises in nation building, transforms history into the stuff of legend and poetry.” This is an articulate look at where Obama stood as he began to govern; the realities of American politics may change his trajectory.