Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope, by Senator Barack Obama
ISBN: 978-0-307-23770-5
The author has been in the media a lot lately because he's the presumptive Democratic nominee for US president. I first encountered Sen. Obama when he gave a speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. "Man," I remember thinking, "This guy should run for president." Well now he is, and it seems a good time to review one of his two books.
He's the son of an inter-racial marriage, and his father disappeared while he was quite young. Obama entered politics in his thirties, won the senate race in Illinois by a landslide, and recently defeated the much more popular and well-known candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic Primary.
In The Audacity of Hope, he discusses a variety of subjects which are traditionally sources of discord and partisan rancor in the United States. He sites division along party lines as a leading barrier to progress in our government, and encourages politicians and citizens alike to focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us.
For example: Conservatives, he says, tend to bristle when it comes to government interference in the marketplace or their right to bear arms. Yet many of these same conservatives show little to no concern when it comes to government wiretapping without a warrant (permitted under Bush's controversial 200 Patriot Act) or government attempts to control 
people's sexual practices.
Liberals, of course, have just as many blind spots.
We get an interesting look inside the US Senate (which actually has much more power than the president), and a lot of personal anecdotes about the major players in US politics. He tells us about the first time he met President George W. Bush, very interesting.
There's an amazing chapter on religion. Religion is always such a battleground, here in the US. The single biggest gap in party affiliation is not between men and women, among the races, or even between so-called red states and blue states. It's between those who attend church and those who don't. To me, his opinions on this controversial issue seemed reasonable and informed.
At press time, Obama is ahead in the polls and widely considered a safe bet in the 2008 election. This would be a good time to check out the credentials and thought process of someone who may be about to become one of the most powerful men in the world. It's a charismatic book, filled with optimism for the future. And the author really is terribly handsome as well.
It's always sensible to be well-informed through historic times.

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