Steve Jobs Biography Reveals He Told Obama, 'You're Headed For A One-Term Presidency'
In one of the most hotly-anticipated biographies of the year, "Steve Jobs," author Walter Isaacson reveals that the Apple CEO offered to design political ads for President Obama's 2012 campaign despite being highly critical of the administration's policies and that Jobs refused potentially life-saving surgery on his pancreatic cancer because he felt it was too invasive. Nine months later, he got the operation but it was too late.
Those are just some of the tidbits about Jobs' life revealed in the upcoming biography, a copy of which was obtained by The Huffington Post. The publication date of the official biography of the notoriously-secretive Apple co-founder was pushed up after his death in October. "I wanted my kids to know me," Isaacson quoted Jobs as saying in their final interview. "I wasn't always there for them and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did."
Among other details unearthed in the book on the notoriously-secretive Apple co-founder:
Jobs' Meeting With Obama
Jobs, who was known for his prickly, stubborn personality, almost missed meeting President Obama in the fall of 2010 because he insisted that the president personally ask him for a meeting. Though his wife told him that Obama "was really psyched to meet with you," Jobs insisted on the personal invitation, and the standoff lasted for five days. When he finally relented and they met at the Westin San Francisco Airport, Jobs was characteristically blunt. He seemed to have transformed from a liberal into a conservative.
"You're headed for a one-term presidency," he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where "regulations and unnecessary costs" make it difficult for them.
Jobs also criticized America's education system, saying it was "crippled by union work rules," noted Isaacson. "Until the teachers' unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform." Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.
Aiding Obama's Reelection Campaign
Jobs suggested that Obama meet six or seven other CEOs who could express the needs of innovative businesses -- but when White House aides added more names to the list, Jobs insisted that it was growing too big and that "he had no intention of coming." In preparation for the dinner, Jobs exhibited his notorious attention to detail, telling venture capitalist John Doerr that the menu of shrimp, cod and lentil salad was "far too fancy" and objecting to a chocolate truffle dessert. But he was overruled by the White House, which cited the president's fondness for cream pie.
Though Jobs was not that impressed by Obama, later telling Isaacson that his focus on the reasons that things can't get done "infuriates" him, they kept in touch and talked by phone a few more times. Jobs even offered to help create Obama's political ads for the 2012 campaign. "He had made the same offer in 2008, but he'd become annoyed when Obama's strategist David Axelrod wasn't totally deferential," writes Isaacson. Jobs later told the author that he wanted to do for Obama what the legendary "morning in America" ads did for Ronald Reagan.
Bill Gates And Steve Jobs
Bill Gates was fascinated by Steve Jobs but found him "fundamentally odd" and "weirdly flawed as a human being," and his tendency to be "either in the mode of saying you were shit or trying to seduce you."
Jobs once declared about Gates, "He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger."
After 30 years, Gates would develop a grudging respect for Jobs. "He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works," he said. But Jobs never reciprocated by fully appreciating Gates' real strengths. "Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas."
Meeting His Biological Father
Jobs, who was adopted, was a customer at a Mediterranean restaurant north of San Jose without realizing that it was owned by his biological father -- from whom he was estranged. The two eventually met. "It was amazing," Jobs later said of the revelation. "I had been to that restaurant a few times, and I remember meeting the owner. He was Syrian. Balding. We shook hands."
Nevertheless, Jobs still had no desire to see him. "I was a wealthy man by then, and I didn't trust him not to try to blackmail me or go to the press about it."
Anticipating An Early Death
Jobs once told John Sculley, who would later become Apple's CEO and fire Jobs, that if he weren't working with computers, he could see himself as a poet in Paris. "Jobs confided in Sculley that he believed he would die young, and therefore he needed to accomplish things quickly so that he would make his mark on Silicon Valley history. "We all have a short period of time on this earth," he told the Sculleys. "We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we're going to be here nor do I, but my feeling is I've got to accomplish a lot of these things while I'm young."
For his first interview about the book, Isaacson talked to "60 Minutes" for the Sunday, Oct. 23 episode, telling host Steve Kroft that he was shocked about Jobs's decision to initially skip surgery for his pancreatic cancer -- that such a genius could make such a wrong decision about his own health.
"I've asked [Jobs why he didn't get an operation then] and he said, 'I didn't want my body to be opened ... I didn't want to be violated in that way,' said Isaacson.
"I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking. ... We talked about this a lot," he told Kroft. "He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it. ... I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner."