Jun 15, 2015, 10:48 AM
Barack Obama was born in the new
Not long after his graduation in 1983, Obama took his first
steps towards politics by moving to
After completing his studies, the budding legal star was offered a publisher's advance for his memoirs. He accepted the offer and spent six months writing the acclaimed book that would later become a sort of calling card, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. The memoir addressed a number of touchy issues including his mixed parentage, the absence of his father growing up, his religion (he is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a large, predominantly African-American, church located in Chicago), and his sometimes difficult growing pains, including a certain degree of marijuana and occasional cocaine use during his first two years of college. These vices were far from uncommon in college students of his generation, and the admissions have proven uncontroversial.
With his first book written, Obama divided his time between
working at a law firm (including a number of pro-bono cases), teaching law at
In 1996, Barack Obama ran for and won a seat in the Illinois
State Senate, where he worked on issues ranging from electoral reform to racial
profiling and death penalty reform. Although he lost a primary bid for Congress
in 2000 against popular longtime congressman Bobby Rush, he was twice
re-elected to his State Senate seat. In 2004, State Senator Obama announced his
wish to become the junior senator from the state of
From this point on, the young politician seemed to be living a charmed life. In the primary, his multimillionaire opponent was dogged by scandal, while Obama racked up important endorsements. In the general election, his Republican rival, state attorney general Jack Ryan, was plagued by charges of sexual cruelty leveled by his actress ex-wife.
With his chances of election growing, the charismatic Obama was selected to give the keynote speech at he 2004 Democratic convention. The speech wowed millions of viewers and was widely hailed as one of the strongest speeches in recent political history. Though he had been working in politics for nearly all of his adult life, Barack Obama became an "overnight" political star. Then, as if to clinch the matter, Jack Ryan dropped out and apparently desperate Illinois Republicans went in search of a replacement. When the new Republican candidate turned out not to be legendary football coach Mike Ditka, as was rumored, but Alan Keyes, a quirky former presidential candidate, radio host, and rightwing ideologue from out of state, victory for Obama seemed about certain. The 43-year-old state senator won the all-African-American match-up by more than seventy percent margin.
Talk of possible presidential aspirations was already rife
as Barack Obama accepted the oath of office and entered the senate. For the
next five years, mention of his name in the national press was nearly always
accompanied by speculation about whether or not he would be entering the 2008
race, despite what some saw as a relatively thin political resume against the
probably inevitable candidacy of fellow senator and former first lady Hillary
Clinton. Nevertheless, Senator Obama's initial job was to make a place for
himself in the famously collegial house of congress. Though some liberal
writers have criticized his record in the senate as excessively cautious, he
was active on such issues as immigration reform, energy, and foreign policy.
With the 2008 presidential contest heating up, he also became involved in such
issues as the
Senator Obama announced his presidential candidacy officially in February of 2007 and made worldwide headlines as the first African-American candidate with a serious chance of reaching the White House. His campaign's fundraising prowess, particularly in terms of numbers of doors, was the talk of the political media. Even his cigarette smoking became a minor issue on Fox News and elsewhere and he announced on an April "Late Night with David Letterman" that he had quit thanks to pressure from his wife and the frequent use of Nicorette gum. Though he faces stiff opposition from Hilary Clinton and a significant competition from the more populist-leaning John Edwards, political rock star Senator Barack Obama is clearly going to be a major force in American politics for the foreseeable future.