Obama First Pol To Grace GQ Cover In 15 Years

First on FishbowlDC

GQ asks: Does “the new star of the Democratic Party” have “the nerve, the political spine, and the will to do the (sometimes dirty) work it takes to get to the White House?”

That was then (Nov. 1992)…


…this is now (Sept. 2007)…


FishbowlDC has learned that Sen. Barack Obama will grace the cover of September’s GQ magazine. Ryan Lizza authors the cover story, which begins:

    We already know that Barack Obama has what it takes–the crowd-pleasing charisma, the outsize ambition, the audacity of hope–to be a serious candidate for president. But does he have all the rest–the nerve, the political spine, and the will to do the (sometimes dirty) work it takes to get to the White House? That is the question. A journey with the new star of the Democratic Party.

Obama is the first politician to appear on GQ’s cover since Bill Clinton and Al Gore appeared on the men’s magazine cover nearly fifteen years ago (Nov. 1992). But the cover story almost didn’t happen. Writes Lizza:

    They struggled for weeks before deciding to agree to let him grace the cover of this magazine. “Frankly, I could do with fewer cover stories generally,” David Axelrod, Obama’s top strategist and adman told me during a recent visit to his Chicago office. “He’s an incredibly magnetic and also photogenic person, and so he lands on the covers of a lot of magazines. And that had its utility at one point, but it can get overdone. This is a really profound guy in many ways, and you don’t want him trivialized.”

Lizza calls Obama “more of an old-fashioned pol than you think.” and says that, “underneath the inspirational leader who wants to change politics…is an ambitious, prickly, and occasionally ruthless politician.”


Other notes:

  • Obama has been trying to lower expectations of his candidacy…

  • On Hillary:

      I asked [communications director Robert] Gibbs if his understanding was that, despite the campaign’s rhetoric, Hillary had to be actively taken down. Gibbs looked at me and smiled. “We’re not running the race thinking we’re the horse in second,” he said, “and that ultimately the horse in first is just going to stop running.”

  • On Howard Dean:

      But Obama also offers a cautionary note. He leans back in his chair and crosses his legs. “Movement without organization,” he says, “without policy, without plans, will dissipate. Howard Dean, one could argue, back in 2004 helped to engineer a movement, a movement in opposition to the war. But there wasn’t a structure there and a set of policies and plans that would then lead to governance.”

    And yet…

      Obama is on his way to raising more money from a larger pool of donors than any presidential candidate in history. He will out-raise Hillary by an astounding $10 million for the quarter. He can parachute into almost any city in America and attract a crowd of thousands. But his poll numbers, both nationally and in the early primary states, still aren’t budging, and the whispers about Obama being the next Howard Dean are growing louder.

  • Lizza notes “Obama’s reputation for being a little thin-skinned.”


  • “Few politicians are better than Obama at speaking about the most polarizing issues.”

  • “Pollsters are beginning to talk about Obama’s “beer problem.” Survey after survey shows that he appeals to the college-educated, “wine sipping” Democrats but isn’t reaching less educated “beer drinkers.”

  • “Personally, for me,” Obama says, “I think the story of my campaign is the ongoing struggle to maintain my voice and my compass in a process that in a lot of ways is slightly ridiculous.”

    (We also hear that one of those “50 Most Powerful People in Washington” is the Washington Post’s national news head, Susan Glasser).