Politics The Contenders: Barack Obama
posted by January 10 at 9:22 AMon
Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.
Barack Obama is beloved by Democrats for many reasons, but in the context of their hopes for winning back the White House he is beloved because he is a fresh, charismatic face unburdened by a 2002 vote to invade Iraq. He is also reminiscent of pre-scandal Bill Clinton in his charm, intelligence, potential, sunny optimism, and magnetic good looks. Obama’s recent book, The Audacity of Hope, is a further Clintonian echo (Bill was the original “boy from Hope, Arkansas”) and in a sign of Obama’s wide appeal, his memoir has been on the New York Times best-seller list since it was published last year.
Another big reason for the attention Obama’s been getting: He is only the fifth black Senator in the nation’s history and would be the country’s first black president.
Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Kenyan-born father and American-born mother. His globe-trotting early life took him to Indonesia, California, New York, Chicago, and finally Cambridge, where he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School after having become the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. In 1996, after moving back to Chicago, Obama was elected to the Illinois state legislature.
In 2004, he vaulted into the national consciousness, giving a remarkably strong keynote address at the Democratic National Convention and winning the Senate seat from Illinois. Here’s the speech, in two parts:
After two years as a Senator—during which he has served on the Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans’ Affairs committees—Obama’s greatest strength among Democrats, his short record in Washington, is also his biggest potential weakness.
(Aside from his early opposition to the Iraq War, his positions largely track with those of mainstream Democrats.)
Obama is married to attorney Michelle Robinson. The couple has two children and they attend Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
(With research help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)