cover image Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership

Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership

Steven Levingston. Hachette, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-48786-3

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were a match made in heaven, according to this starry-eyed study of bromantic leadership. Washington Post books editor Levingston (Kennedy and King) styles them as an odd couple who overcame a rocky courtship to become essential helpmeets, with the gregarious, glad-handing Biden “loosen[ing] up” the reserved, calculating Obama while “Obama showed Biden the path to discipline.” Their relationship, he gushes, left Americans “mesmerized, our eyes locked on these two glowing figures as if we were in the presence of beauty.” (As evidence, he cites a woman who said, “I want a man who looks at me like Biden looks at Obama.”) Alas, Levingston’s rhapsodies on the Obama-Biden bond—“crying, laughing, whispering, walking arm-in-arm, eating ice cream”—don’t reveal much of political substance in it. He notes that Obama appreciated (but rejected) Biden’s advice on Afghanistan and cared deeply about Biden’s son Beau’s battle with cancer, but was persistently exasperated with Biden’s verbosity and gaffes and considered dropping him from the 2012 ticket. Biden in turn appears flagrantly unpresidential here, a reckless windbag with few accomplishments and “an emotional mess” when Obama surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Levingston’s overripe exercise in Obama nostalgia feels unconvincing. (Oct.)