The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
by Senator Barack Obama
Review by John E. Wade II
What is most revealing in the then-senator’s 2006 book is what is not written in its 352 pages. The book is filled with anecdotes, demographics, reminiscences, questions and opinions, yet nowhere does the author reveal that he is a trained political scientist. Senator Obama does not disclose that he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, or that he has a Harvard law degree, magna cum laude. Many parts of the book are subtle attempts to garner votes, while others are blatant ones, the whole characterized by a surprising lack of detailed biography.
I wondered about the senator’s academic background as I read his book, but I didn’t realize at that time that it was the work of a professional politician, both by training and career path. I later pieced together the senator’s education, which began with two years at Occidental College, a liberal arts school in Los Angeles with fewer than two thousand students. Obama was there with a full scholarship. Through an exchange program with Occidental, after his sophomore year, in 1981 he transferred to Columbia University in New York City where, according to David Mendell inObama: From Promise to Power, the future senator was particularly impressed by a course in modern political thought. He graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.
Obama wrote in his résumé that he took a job where he “… researched, wrote and edited reports and how-to manuals on international business and finance for international business and finance for multinational corporations.” After a while, though, he became disenchanted with the job and quit.
In June of 1985, at the age of 23, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side, the largest single concentration of blacks anywhere in the country.
Three years later, he entered Harvard Law School, older and more mature than his fellow students and more committed to his studies. There he graduated magna cum laude and became the first black to hold the presidency of the Harvard Law Review; which included editor-in-chief responsibilities, in more than a century. Most of the above information about Senator Obama’s past comes from Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell because the senator’s book doesn’t include many key details about his background.
Following graduation from Harvard, Obama directed Project Vote! that targeted the city’s low-income blacks for the 1992 presidential election, and registered some 150,000 new voters. After the election, he joined a twelve-attorney firm that specialized in civil rights, discrimination cases and neighborhood development in Chicago. His Illinois law license was active for nine years, but he never handled a trial, working primarily in teams of attorneys who drew up briefs and contracts on a variety of cases. The firm’s major appeal to Obama was Judson Miner, who had extensive political connections in Chicago, particularly in the black community.
Obama’s first run for public office was for a seat in the Illinois State Senate. He won, taking office in January of 1997, and served almost eight years. In late 1999 and early 2000 Obama made an unsuccessful run for the U. S. Congress. After a campaign that included his opponent’s divorce scandal that surfaced just before the election, Obama won a seat in the U. S. Senate; he was sworn in on January 4, 2005.
The real question now, knowing Obama’s career in academia and politics, is whether the country is willing to reelect a political scientist, attorney and president (whose major accomplishment is Obamacare) for another four years. Remember also his reckless spending and failure to address deficits, debt, taxes and entitlements.
President Obama has proven that he knows how to register voters, campaign, deliver speeches and press the flesh in a tireless, relentless, ambitious and driven manner. He has been able to handle the public appearances required by the office.
In my opinion, the stupendous challenge over the next four years will be the economy. President Obama has had four years of opportunity, just as President Carter did, and both of them failed to remedy the dismal pain of the American people. Thank God, we chose Governor Reagan over President Carter, and history will show the 25-year growth ignited by Reaganomics (1982 – 2007).
…To be continued