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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Barack Obama: Phenomenon with a Funny Name

Barack Obama: Phenomenon with a Funny Name

The new wunderkind of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, stands on the national stage and the spot light solidly fixed on him. Many wait with baited breathe whether he will announce a 2008 run for President. The UMass Boston community got a chance to see this headliner last June at his commencement speech during our 2006 graduation.

Who is this political phenom that has captured the bleeding hearts of liberals, rallied middle ground moderates, and confused hard line conservatives? Well, if you ask Obama he will say he is just “the kid with a funny name.” But as the only black senator currently in office he has proven to be much more than that. His second attempt at running for public office showed to be successful. By winning the Illinois senator seat in 2004 with 70% of the popular vote, he gained national attention.

The current junior senator is a multicultural renaissance man. He split his time as a child between Jakarta, Indonesia and Honolulu, Hawaii. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and has a half-sister that is Indonesian and American who is married to a Chinese-Canadian, Obama’s African American wife, calls family get-togethers during the holidays a “mini-United Nations.”

Obama even won a Grammy, earlier this year, for Best Spoken Word album, which he earned for an audio book version of his autobiography Dreams from My Father. He also has $1.9 million book deal for three other books, one of which was published just last month in October called The Audacity of Hope. The next book is going to be children’s book he will co-author with his wife.

Obama, a self-described family man with two young daughters is married to Michelle Robinson Obama, a Princeton grad and Harvard Law alum; who a success in her own right, is Vice President for Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. Despite Obama’s chaotic schedule and part-time residency in Washington DC, The family continues to lives in a $1.6 million home on the South Side of Chicago. Obama tries to keep his promise to his family by flying home every weekend, Thursday through Sunday.

The now famed 2004 appearance that catapulted him into stardom, where Obama was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, was held here in Boston. His ties to Boston don’t end there. The eloquent speaker earned his law degree from Harvard in 1991. While there he was elected president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He’s also made several visits to Massachusetts to campaign and support fellow Democrat and governor-elect Deval Patrick.

Supporters seemed to have flocked to Obama, in large part because he is a moderate Democrat. Many voters have grown weary of the polarization and the Republican stranglehold that has existed for more than a decade in the American political arena. Obama’s virtual clean slate is yet another attractive quality. With no scandals, corruption, or leaning voting record, he’s become the poster child for Democratic ethics and American ingenuity. However many others believe Obama’s lack of experience will hurt him if he tries to run in 2008 and a loss there could hinder a 2012 run. With an unpopular lame duck president and vice president out of the picture, others still see 2008 as a clear shot.

Obama may give Hilary Clinton a run for her money with all the excitement and momentum swirling around an Obama presidential bid. Not to mention the Republicans better hope that either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani have some hidden talents or at least a well timed trick up their sleeve, if one them ends up going against Obama in 2008.

With endorsements from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and, the 2nd richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, people are taking notice. He has graced the covers of Time and Newsweek magazine, both of whom support the idea of an Obama presidential run. While he has not officially announced a 2008 vie for president, Obama still has yet to completely reject a presidential run. If he did decide to run, as the second most popular choice for Democrats, he would have a pretty good shot at victory. Obama in the Whitehouse would draw comparisons to another young Democratic President, who has ties to Massachusetts and UMass Boston: namely John F. Kennedy.