One of my favorite things about Barack Obama recently has been that he finally, finally let himself say the quiet parts to loud, so to speak. You know he’s been biting his tongue for four years, and finally on the campaign trail he got to give voice to some — and truly only just some — of the things I imagine he would direct at his TV whenever he watched the news. This cover has the aura of someone who has had a weight lifted off his shoulders (the facial expression reads, in part, very, “Ding dong, Donald, we gotcha”) and can finally settle in and talk openly. Also,  InStyle confirms they had him wear the same jacket as when he made that clutch three-point shot on the campaign trail, and the cover line “That’s What I Do” is what he gleefully yelled after he sank it.

Now, I said in the headline that this is “for a January 2021 cover” and not “the January 2021 cover” because InStyle referred to this in its press materials as “a special cover,” and I don’t think they meant “it is a cover that’s special to us,” though I imagine that is clearly true also. My guess: He was NOT the planned cover subject, in part because they didn’t know the election outcome and this cover would hit differently if Trump had won. But once that was assured InStyle did a digital cover to promote what is really quite a big get, and released it early — thus preventing it from getting buried by the eventual other cover reveal, and dovetailing beautifully with his book press. Which is very smart, and also, this gives Michelle (or Sasha or Malia) a LOT of ammo for future gift-giving. They can get this turned into a jigsaw puzzle. His next birthday, they can have this printed onto the top of the sheet cake. Or they can get someone to blow it up huge and frame it and hang it right in the entryway, or perhaps a downstairs powder room right over the lav. Imagine going over there for dinner — in like 2022 — and popping in to use the restroom and Obama is grinning down at you.  “My fellow American,” he is thinking, “you had better wash your hands for longer than that. I see you.”

The piece is both an excerpt from A Promised Land, and a short exclusive in which he was asked to speak about the badass women in his life. This is cute:

Sasha is, as Malia describes it, completely confident about her own take on the world and is not cowed or intimidated — and never has been — by anybody’s titles, anybody’s credentials. If she thinks something’s wrong or right, she will say so. When she was 4, 5, 6 years old, once she made a decision, she would dig in and couldn’t be steered off it. I write about it in the book, how we were trying to get her to taste caviar when we were visiting Russia. She was like, “Mnn-nnh. No. Sorry. That looks slimy. It’s nasty. I’m not going to do it — even if I’ve got to give up dessert.” And that part of her character has always been there.

This made me laugh. It is the nicest spin any parent has ever put on having a kid who is like HELL NO I’M NOT EATING WHATEVER YOU JUST PUT IN FRONT OF ME.

[Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis, courtesy of InStyle]