The Reggie Love Story

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Of all the aides Barack Obama has lost, none will be missed as much as the 'body man' he describes as the little brother he never had

It counts as big news in Washington when a top aide to an American president hangs up his cleats. Reports that the current chief of staff, Bill Daley, is merely paring down his responsibilities a tad caused a minor media tempest just this last week.

The departure of a "body man", in contrast, ought not to matter a jot.

In fact, though, the ripples of the exit of Reggie Love, who has played valet and butler to Barack Obama since the start of his 2008 campaign, may be felt just as acutely in the White House as the changes in his superior's role – if not in policy, then in the rather more tangible area of the President's lifestyle. Mr Love has announced that he is moving on. Next year someone else will have to keep the POTUS train running on time, mind his briefcase and check there is a glass of water on every podium.

Republicans on the Hill and the political wonks need pay no heed. Mr Love has not – as far as we know, anyway – been setting Mr Obama's policy compass all these years. His job has been simple, but of outsized importance: to be at the President's side at all times, particularly when travelling outside the White House, and make sure he lacks for nothing. If the President has a headache, it's the body man who gives him an Aspirin. If he is presented a gift while touching hands in a crowd, it's the body man who relieves him of it.

Presidents have an array of gatekeepers, social secretaries, scheduling aides. But all of them have a body man too. A young Doug Band did it for Bill Clinton when he was in office. He has stayed by his side in the decade since, helping, for instance, to negotiate the job of Secretary of State for Hillary Clinton when Mr Obama took office. The duties of Blake Gottesman for George W Bush included dog-sitting Barney and Miss Beazley. Among fictional body men is The West Wing's Charlie Young, who becomes a kind of surrogate son to Martin Sheen's president. Mr Obama, in contrast, has referred to Mr Love as the "little brother" he has never had.

"I am an extra set of hands, if he ever needs it," Love oncesaid of his responsibilities. "Anything I can do to make life just a little bit easier is, you know, part of my job." He went on to reveal some of things he won't leave the White House without when the President is on the road. "Note pads. Lint – this is like a lint brush ...toothbrush, Scope, cough drops, Tylenol, aspirin, Sudafed."

Occasionally, though, the body man's lot is more than just a mundane bit part in the drama that runs through every administration, because they get closer than anyone, aside from a spouse, to the human threads of a president. It happened between Richard Nixon and Manolo Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant who stayed with his master even after his exile to California. Papers released this week tell of Nixon waking Sanchez one morning in May 1970 to walk with him to the Lincoln Memorial where he found himself debating the Vietnam War with protesters.

Love, still only 30, will not be going with Mr Obama into retirement or even into the headwinds of the about-to-begin 2012 election campaign. Already studying part-time for a business masters degree in Philadelphia, he has decided it's time to break free and to carry a briefcase with his own initials on it.

While Mr Obama is not about to lose a limb, it may seem like it to him for a while. Even the press corps may mourn and not just because he is a nice guy. Whether in a gym, city park or sporting arena, reporters know when Mr Obama is about to appear because there, appearing from behind the black curtains, is Love, all 6ft 5in of him, surveying the scene to make sure everything is in order.

A native of North Carolina, Love is also an athlete. He tried out for some big American Football teams before taking a punt in 2005 on working as an intern for a certain US Senator from Illinois. The men bonded over sport; they shoot hoops together on the White House court. In 2008 it became a matter of superstition for Mr Obama to spend part of every primary day blocking and dribbling with Love.

Love, according to others in the circle of young aides in the White House, has not been without power, sometimes discreetly screening which visitors get to spend time with the Commander-in-Chief and which don't. And in the meantime he imparted a little cool to Mr Obama too, famously stocking his digital music player with a little gentle hip-hop and rap. He has "has downloaded Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne and some of these folks so that I am, you know, not a complete fuddy-duddy", the President once said. He ventured that, in return, he had "hipped him to Aretha Franklin and John Coltrane".

The term "body man" doesn't do justice to what Mr Love became to President Obama. "He is the master of what he does," said the President in a statement yesterday. Factotum might work, except that it implies servitude and is too old-fashioned. Mr Obama perhaps got somewhere close when he coined a special word for what Mr Love meant to him. He called him his "iReggie".

Aides: First Friends

David Powers

John F. Kennedy was canvassing when he knocked on Powers' door in 1946 and said: "I am a candidate for Congress. Will you help me?" Powers said yes and when JFK entered the White House, he became 'First Friend'. His role included greeting world leaders to making JFK laugh.

Manuel "Manolo" Sanchez

Known as "The Man's man", Cuban-born Sanchez became Richard M. Nixon's valet in 1962. He said the former President's frequent order was: "Manolo, stay where I can see you".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Support Assistant - Hampshire - up to 40K

£25000 - £40000 per annum + 23 days holiday Pension Scheme: Deerfoot IT Resour...

Foundation / Year 1 Teacher - Long Term - Salford

£90 - £130 per day + competitive rates, pension scheme: Randstad Education Man...

.Net Developer -London - up to 55K

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits : Deerfoot IT Resources Limited...

Long Term Primary Teacher - Oldham - Start September 2014

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Key Stage 1 Teache...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil