Tom Perrotta on Obama as a Literary Figure

Tom Perrotta talks about the importance of having a writer and a thinker as president.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Perrotta: I love that we have a leader who is a writer and who really seems to have been engaged on some deeply serious level with the American, the most central issues of American culture of our generation.  He’s about my age.  I may be a year older than Barack Obama, but he seems like a very familiar figure to me.  I can see, you know, in the way that he talks that he came of age during that period in the ‘80s and ‘90s when identity politics were so central to American intellectual life and, you know, they were central for a good reason, you know.  We were grappling with the fall out from centuries of racism.  On the other hand, they became very oppressive for anybody who, on a literary level, you know, it’s really hard if a kind of a sense that, you know, in academia, like, you know, that they’d be very careful about who you could speak for and how you could speak and you’d be very careful about their power relationships that you’re expressing and it felt like a kind of… it felt like a really challenging environment for writers, very different from the kind of free wheeling [ and archaic] literary culture of the ‘60s, say, and I think, you know, you can feel with Obama, you know that he’s thought really hard about these issues and tried to figure out a way beyond a kind of black and white kind of polarization that we’ve dealt with in a political and in an electoral way and I think that accounts for, you know, people’s reaction.  He was a kind of genuinely inspiring thinker.