Barack Obama, events

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Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States of America. The following are events that transpired during Obama's life that are relevant to his career.


When Obama was named president of the Harvard Law Review, in 1990, he was profiled by, among others, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Tribune, Vanity Fair, and the Associated Press.[1]

Move to Chicago

When Barack Obama was 22 years old, just out of Columbia University, he took a $10,000-a-year job as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. "It was a shrewd move for a young black man with an interest in politics..."

The politician who truly set the stage for Obama's rise was also a South Side congressman Harold Washington, who was elected mayor of Chicago in 1983...In New York, Obama read about Washington's victory and wrote to City Hall, asking for a job. He never heard back, but he made it to Chicago just months after Washington took office...[2].

Sidley Austin

Michelle Obama, Obama's wife

In 1988, Obama left for Harvard Law School, returning to Chicago twice for summer stints at élite law firms, including, after his first year, Sidley Austin-where he met Michelle Robinson, later Michelle Obama.[1] He returned to Chicago permanently when he graduated, in 1991.

Saul Mendelson's memorial

Saul Mendelson

On March 29 1998 Barack Obama spoke at a memorial service for long time Chicago Socialist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America member Saul Mendelson.[3]

According to Chicago DSA leader Carl Shier;

At the memorial service held at the 1st Unitarian Church on South Woodlawn, speaker after speaker recounted Saul's contributions. The service was ably MC'd by a retired colleague, Bob Clark. I spoke first and was followed by Saul's friend Deborah Meier, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient who is now starting a new school in Boston. Amy Isaacs, National Director of the ADA, spoke of what Saul had meant on foreign affairs to the ADA.
Other speakers included Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, State Senator Barak Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and a good friend from New York, Myra Russell. The concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley, who is now Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami Medical School.

Deborah Meier was a former Trotskyist and Socialist Party USA comrade of Saul Mendelson's and a leader of Chicago and Boston DSA.

Amy Isaacs was national director of Americans for Democratic Action, which works closely with DSA.

Carol Moseley Braun was then a U.S. Senator with strong links to both DSA and the Communist Party USA. Barack Obama helped get her elected in 1992 and then took over her former Senate seat in 2004.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, are both leftist Democrats with ties to Chicago's socialist community. Both endorsed Barack Obama in his successful 2004 bid for the United States Senate.

Harriet Lefley was a Trotskyist in the 1940s with Saul Mendelson.

Eulogies also came from Quinn Brisben, (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1976, 1992) and David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1980, 2000).

Both Brisben and McReynolds are also members of Democratic Socialists of America.

Obama probably knew Saul Mendelson through their mutual activities in the Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization (IVIIPO), an organization investigated by the FBI for communist infiltration in the 1940s.

Failed congressional run

In 1999, Obama challenged Bobby Rush, who has represented the South Side in Congress since 1992.

Rush had run against Daley in the 1999 mayoral primary, and Obama interpreted Rush’s defeat in that citywide race as a harbinger of his declining popularity in his congressional district.
Obama was financially outmatched. Although he raised about six hundred thousand dollars, sustained television advertising in Chicago cost between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand dollars a week, according to Dan Shomon, Obama’s campaign manager at the time. A series of unusual events defined the race. A few months before the election, Rush’s twenty-nine-year-old son, Huey Rich, was shot and killed, which made the incumbent a figure of sympathy, and in the final weeks of the campaign Rush’s father died. Obama made a serious misstep when, visiting his grandmother in Hawaii, he missed a crucial vote on gun-control legislation in Springfield. Even worse, on the day of the vote a column by Obama about how the gun bill was “sorely needed” appeared in the Hyde Park Herald, under the headline “IDEOLOGUES FRUSTRATE GUN LAW.” Obama protested that his daughter was ill and unable to travel, and that he saw his grandmother, who lived alone, only once a year, but the press treated the trip as a tropical vacation.

Obama lost hugely-by thirty-one points. On Election Night, at the Ramada Inn where he had begun his political career, Obama hinted that he might leave politics. “I’ve got to make assessments about where we go from here,” he said. “We need a new style of politics to deal with the issues that are important to the people. What’s not clear to me is whether I should do that as an elected official or by influencing government in ways that actually improve people’s lives.

Obama had misread the political dynamics of Rush’s unsuccessful mayoral campaign. According to Abner Mikva[4];

He thought he would get some help from Daley because Rush had run against Daley for mayor...He thought that Daley might use the opportunity to get even. That’s not the way the Daleys work. It’s not the way the machine works. When Barack went in to see the Mayor, whom he knew slightly, Daley said what his old man used to say: ‘Good luck!’

Stand against the Iraq War

Barack Obama

When Chicagoans Against War on Iraq was organized in 2002, it began by organizing[5]a Federal Plaza rally on October 2 that drew a politically significant line up of speakers, including U.S. Representatives and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama.

According to Ryan Lizza[6]the idea for the rally came from Bettylu Saltzman and some friends, who, over Chinese food, had decided to stage the protest. Saltzman asked John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicagoto speak, but he couldn’t make it. “He was one of the main people we wanted, but he was speaking at the University of Wisconsin that day,” Saltzman said.

Then she called her rabbi and then Barack Obama. Michelle answered the phone and passed the message on to her husband, who was out of town.

Saltzman also called Marilyn Katz, a leading member of Chicagoans Against War on Iraq Katz managed to get Jesse Jackson as a speaker and handled many of the organizing details.

Katz described what she felt the political mood was at the time of the rally. “Professors are being turned in on college campuses, Bush’s ratings are eighty-seven per cent,” she said[7].

Among my friends, there hasn’t been an antiwar demonstration in twenty years. There’s huge repression, Bush has got all this legislation. They’re talking about lists, they’re denying people entry into the country. . . . Bush’s numbers were tremendously high, but we had no choice. Unless we wanted to live in a country that was fascist.”
In his biography of Obama, David Mendell, noting that Obama’s speech occurred a few months before the official declaration of his U.S. Senate candidacy, suggests that the decision to publicly oppose the war in Iraq was a calculated political move intended to win favor with Saltzman.

But as Saltzman herself has said[8], “He was a Hyde Park state senator. He had to oppose the war!”

2004 U.S. Senate campaign

While outside the Democratic Party mainstream, Obama was able to win his 2004 U.S. senate race by stitching together a coalition of socialist/communist dominated unions and "community organisations".

Obama has also received the backing of several independent Latino elected officials led by State Sen. Miguel del Valle, Rep. Cynthia Soto and Alderman Ray Colon. Alderman Joe Moore also backed Obama, as did USAction leader William McNary.

From the From the Communist Party USA paper Peoples Weekly World February 28th 2004;

The race for the Democratic nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat in Illinois has boiled down to a three-person race, according to polls. Millionaire Blair Hull has a slight lead after pouring $18 million of his own money into an advertising blitz. State Sen. Barak Obama and State Controller Dan Hynes trail him, with a large undecided vote remaining. The primary will be held March 16.
At several campaign rallies across this city on Feb. 21, Obama said that after the presidential race, the Senate race in Illinois might be the most important. He noted the historic potential of his campaign, aside from helping break the Republican majority. If successful he would be only the third African American since Reconstruction elected to the U.S. Senate.
Of all the candidates, Obama can boast the most diverse support. While Hynes has the backing of the state AFL-CIO and the bulk of the Democratic machine, Obama has the support of several key unions including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees; Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees; the state American Federation of Teachers; Chicago Teachers Union and Teamsters Local 705, the second largest in the country. Obama has a 90 percent voting record on labor issues in the Illinois Senate.
In addition to widespread support in the African American community, Obama has also received the backing of several independent Latino elected officials led by State Sen. Miguel del Valle, Rep. Cynthia Soto and Alderman Ray Colon. Alderman Joe Moore from the North Side is also backing him.
Many progressive organizations have thrown their support to Obama, including the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. In its endorsement, Citizen Action/Illinois praised Obama’s 96 percent voting record on consumer issues. President William McNary said Obama “will be a strong voice in Washington on behalf of working families.

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