BARACK OBAMA – Presidential Hopeful?

“There are some things that I’m absolutely sure about—the Golden Rule,
the need to battle cruelty in all its forms, the value of love and charity, humility and grace.”

“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. But I’ve got news for them. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. There’re patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all defending the United States of America.”

Those words come from Barack Obama – US Senator for Illinois, America’s hottest political phenomenon.

Obama, who resides in Hyde Park with his family, is the only currently serving U.S. Senator with known ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa. With the October 2006 publication of his book titled The Audacity of Hope, Obama became the focus of intense speculation on his potential to become a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.There’s  a distinct possibility that Obama may seize the moment and run in ’08. A close associate introduces a note of caution: “I’d put the chances right now at no better than 50 percent,” he said recently, as Obama taped Oprah’s show in Chicago.

 Will he think about running for President in 2008 when the congressional election is over? “When the election is over and my book tour is done, I will think about how I can be most useful to the country and how I can reconcile that with being a good dad and a good husband,” Barack says carefully, and then adds, “I haven’t completely decided or unraveled that puzzle yet.”


He was on the cover of TIME this past week (October 16), on Oprah yesterday (October 17) and will appear on Larry King Live tonight (October 18th). 

The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general–another political rainbow–leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey. Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who–like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan–seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. “It’s all about gratitude,” says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. “White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn’t rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that.”

When I asked Obama about this, he began to answer before I finished the question. “There’s a core decency to the American people that doesn’t get enough attention,” he said, sitting in his downtown Chicago office, casually dressed in jeans and a dark blue shirt. “Figures like Oprah, Tiger, Michael Jordan give people a shortcut to express their better instincts. You can be cynical about this. You can say, It’s easy to love Oprah. It’s harder to embrace the idea of putting more resources into opportunities for young black men–some of whom aren’t so lovable. But I don’t feel that way. I think it’s healthy, a good instinct. I just don’t want it to stop with Oprah. I’d rather say, If you feel good about me, there’s a whole lot of young men out there who could be me if given the chance.”

          Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, available now.

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