The Final Hagiography of the Obama Team

The Final Hagiography of the Obama Team
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The new documentary The Final Year records the ups, the downs, the smiles, the frowns of President Obama's foreign policy advisers during their last months in office. It was made for HBO but it won't hit the small screen until later this year. For the moment it's playing in a few theaters in Obama country (Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, of course, and the pleasanter boroughs of New York City) and on various pay-per-view outlets. If you have the chance to watch it, there are stupider ways to spend your time. In the Trump-created chaos of the present, it is good to remember that chaos takes different forms.The stars of the movie are John Kerry, U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, and Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama's closest foreign policy aide. (Susan Rice, Obama's last national security adviser, tells the audience that Obama and Rhodes enjoyed a mind-meld early on and apparently never decoupled.) They granted the filmmaker, Greg Barker, extensive access to their daily doings and mulled their way through countless interviews. Whether they did this in service of transparent policymaking or in hopes of memorializing their strenuous efforts on the country's behalf is unclear. Evidence tilts toward the latter. The movie, says Rhodes, could actually be a record that survives and that people could view 10 years from now.

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