Real Wealth Society

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I’ve been thinking about phenomenon By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Dec. 31st, 2006

I’ve been thinking about phenomenon. Actually I’ve been thinking about the 2008 elections, Barack Obama, “the speech,” audacity, listening, and the media. It seems like only yesterday that we completed the 2006 election cycle on November 7th. The newly elected don’t take office until this coming January! We the People… normally get the hiatus of a year off from campaigning between the biennial national elections – meaning 2007 should be a break for US/us. However… the 2008 election process has already begun in earnest on the Democratic side of the ballot; John Edwards has just declared his candidacy, there is the “not-as-yet declared candidacy” candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton, and finally there is the phenomenon that is Barack Obama.

You see, while the word “phenomenon” technically refers to any observable event, it also brings to mind something extra-ordinary, something exceptional, and something not expected – an anomaly if you will. The presumed (at the time my writing this column) presidential candidacy of the junior Senator from Illinois fits all those criteria points. Senator Obama’s rise to the front pages of the nation’s daily mega-newspapers and the covers of the nation’s weekly newsmagazines has been both meteoric and unprecedented. He has done very well for himself, but just what do we know about him?

Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961. His undergraduate studies were at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, and Columbia University, New York City. He studied law at Harvard University, where he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, and received a J.D. in 1992. In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate from the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park, in Chicago. He served as chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee when the Democrats regained control of the chamber. In 2000, he ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for Illinois' 1st Congressional district against incumbent Bobby Rush.

In 2004, he decided to challenge incumbent Illinois US Senator Peter Fitzgerald knowing he faced a real uphill battle - thus he began his first campaign for a statewide office fueled by a shoestring budget and a shoe leather (door to door) strategy. What then transpired not even a fictional Hollywood screenwriter would have fantasized. Fitzgerald chose not to seek re-election. The seven Republican candidates bloodied themselves to the bone marrow in the primary. The “winner” was forced by public disclosures of a personal scandal to withdraw before the election. Then…the Illinois Republicans chose to bring in a “ringer” candidate from Maryland to run against him. Obama clearly had a guardian angel and his star was truly on the rise.

These rising perceptions of Obama got him a spot as a keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. This was unprecedented – he had held an in-state (Illinois) office for only seven years and was only “a candidate” for his first national office. The speech – the “Audacity of Hope” – was a both blockbuster and a knockout. Its message of hope and belief in the “American Dream,” a destiny of continued greatness for America, and a faith in simple dreams and an insistence on small miracles wowed everybody. Such exposure certainly didn’t hurt his campaign either for he was soundly elected to the US Senate. He was sworn in on January 4, 2005. He then ranked 99th out of 100 Senators in terms of official seniority (greater seniority brings greater privileges in the Senate).

The word “audacity” conjures up thoughts of “how dare you!” Senator Obama capitalized on the success of his keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in 2004 following it up with a book length expansion of his thoughts in 2006. “The Audacity of Hope – Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” is a masterful treatise on values, our constitution, politics, opportunity, faith, race, the world beyond our borders, and family. It says a lot of things that I personally want to believe, but is the book biographical, or novelistic? Just what does it tell us about Barack Obama - the person, Barack Obama – the phenomenon, or Barack Obama - the candidate for the Office of the President of the United States?

Senator Obama has been truly blessed in this business of politics. He has been the exception to the “rules” in that he has run clean (and positive) campaigns. He “listens” when in face to face contact with potential voters at events. Thus far… he has pretty much received a pass from the media and his other (potential) adversaries in their microbial examinations into “everything” about a candidate for such a high office. Just who is this phenomenon known as Barack Obama? We’re going to find out - I can guarantee THAT. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2006 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.

To “audit” this column and to learn more about the subjects discussed, check out:

The use of phenomenon
Barack Obama

Barack Obama – Congressional Biography

Barack Obama – Washington Post Congressional Archive (voting record)
Barack Obama From SourceWatch

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL) - Top Industries who have funded him

Barack Obama – the 2004 Keynote Speech


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