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The Boston Globe

Ideas

The advice-wrangler in chief

Once elected, a president’s biggest challenge may be organizing his own infosphere.

The presidency of the United States is not so much a job as it is an unspeakably daunting combination of roles: diplomat, lawyer, motivational speaker, military commander, and at times everything in between. But at its core, the presidency is about managing information—facing the endless data stream that is the United States government, and translating it into one high-stakes decision after another.

As Barack Obama prepares to do that work for four more years, he can take comfort in being able to tap some of the smartest people in the world to tell him what he needs to know. Figuring out how to actually distill and digest that information, however, is a different matter entirely, and one that everyone who has held the White House in modern times has struggled to deal with.

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