Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama is a combination of his political experiences alongside his life experiences. And in keeping with my commitment to not wanting this to become a politically focused blog, my response to the book will not have much to do with politics. One of the observations my children and I made before, during, and after the election focused on the media’s focus on Obama’s being “African American.” Given that his mother is white, this seemed dismissive at best although it also seemed to hearken back to the archaic “one drop rule” that defined racial identity not very long ago. After reading Obama’s book I realize that he self-identifies as African American and while I would love it if we could get away from racial labels altogether I certainly respect his right to define himself in whatever way he chooses. Truth is, I don’t agree with every political position he takes, although I understand why he feels the way he does. It was, nevertheless, a delight to read about his behind-the-scenes experiences, including a few references to a certain senator who opposed him a recent election. It made me wonder if the attack ads that are so endemic during campaigns are not actually something the candidates regret having to do. I mean, I’ve often heard politicians protest their use but I have yet to see one not give into the temptation. Like most people I assumed this was just political lip service, a case of “methinks he doth protest too much.” After reading this book, however, I can almost believe it is a sort of political necessary evil although it would be nice to see politicians live up to their protestations and rise to the occasion. Too bad it would be a very expensive stance for any politician to take. The book ends with Obama writing about his family and his family values and here is where I had to slow down my reading because I kept getting tears in my eyes. There is an honesty about him, a self-effacing quality I would never have guessed at, before reading this book. Am I eager to read his Dreams of My Father? You betcha!

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