Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Barack Obama: A fusion of grace and ambition

I was just following a bunch of links from the days Barack Obama first appeared on the scene and came across this article by David Ignatius from May 2008. Some things are just as true now as they were back then. Enjoy!
Obama has a transcendent ambition: It's part of what gives him the "man of destiny" quality. When you see him on TV or in pictures, he always seems to be looking into the middle distance -- not to any person in particular but toward "the people" and the far horizon.

One way to measure Obama's sense of destiny is to think about the choices before him when he graduated from Harvard Law School as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review: He could have walked into a Supreme Court clerkship or harvested a fortune working for a fancy law firm. But Obama's ambition was much bigger. He went to Chicago to start building a base to run for . . . well, we know where this story leads.

People who met Obama in those early days in Chicago say they were struck by two qualities: First was his remarkable ability to work across racial lines; the second was his political ambition. His strategy was to straddle -- between black and white, between rich and poor, between Harvard and the streets. That's still the essence of his appeal: I am the person who can bring America together because I contain within myself all of its contradictions...

What's compelling about Obama is that fusion of grace and ambition. He's playing for the highest stakes, but he makes it look easy...

Albert Murray titled a collection of his essays on black culture "The Omni-Americans." That was his view of the African American experience, that it pointed in every direction at once -- toward anger and healing, toward rage at America and a patriotism that has led blacks to serve in disproportionate numbers in the military, toward the paradox of hating America and being intensely loyal to it.

That's the history-changing package that Barack Obama brings to the presidential race. Based on last week's primary results, we have a rendezvous in November with that vision of "Omni-America" and the transcendent and potentially disruptive change it represents.


  1. He could have walked into a Supreme Court clerkship

    It actually wouldn't surprise me if the next Democratic President appoints Obama to the Supreme Court. He'll only be 56 when his second term ends, and it would be a shame not to continue making the most of his abilities.

  2. It will be exciting to see what Obama does after he leaves office. He is young and is certainly a man who cares about change. I always envisioned Obama becoming President after his jaw dropping DNC speech but never really thought what he could do after having the highest office in the world. Very exciting to think what may be in store for him and Michelle. But I don't want to think too much about 2016. Thankfully we have him in the WH for 3 more years!