Man on the move: Senator Barack Obama.



Liberation, France

Obama: 'A Man Who

Will Restore America's

Image in the World'


"How many politicians are capable of arousing such emotions? How many have done it since John F. Kennedy? … Obama should thank Bush in his prayers. Without him, America wouldn’t be seeking a uniter - let alone a redeemer. "


By our correspondent in New York, Isabelle Duriez


Translated By Kate Davis


January 5, 2008


France - Liberation - Original Article (English)

By handily beating Hillary Clinton in Iowa, the Senator, who embodies youth and change, has confirmed his chances of becoming the first Black president of the United States.


Early one morning in Boston in July 2004, when the radio rebroadcast the speech of a certain Barack Obama, a young black man who was driving journalists to the Democratic convention said aloud: “You hear this guy? He’ll go far.”


The night before, Democrats had discovered the youthful face of this elected official from Illinois, who was campaigning for a Senate seat he would win four months later. It is a serious face that at the same time is serene, a voice that is warm and level and hands that are long and hypnotic. For many, it was only when his wife Michelle came to kiss him, a beautiful Black woman in a white pant-suit, that they realized he was Black. They were fascinated.


But no one then would have bet on the fact that four years later, this relative-unknown would establish himself as the most credible candidate in the eyes of the Democrats. Too early, too young, to inexperienced, too black, Barack Obama has heard it all - and has made it into an asset. The night before the Iowa caucuses, he said to his supporters that his opponents say: “Some say that Obama may be the source of inspiration, he might have good ideas, but hasn't been in Washington long enough. He needs to simmer a little more to boil all the hope out of him so he speaks like all the others, and then he’ll be ready.”


It's now or never. He's convinced of one thing, it’s now or never. Now, because after eight years of President Bush, sterile ideological battles or unjustified wars, Americans need someone that talks about coalition-building and the need for change. Now, because with only three years in the Senate his record is still (almost) free of political maneuvering and his discourse is speeches are steeped in idealism. Now, because at 46 years old, he's the youngest candidate and can embody - almost physically - the arrival of a new generation to power.


“Our generation,” he said to the crowds of students who come to see him en masse. Now, because he believes that his hope is contagious. If he has one talent, it's that he can captivate crowds and make them dream of something better; he warms their hearts. Stated like this, it all seems very naive. But on Thursday night after his victory speech WATCH , the comments on political sites began as follows: “He gave me goosebumps” or “I had tears in my eyes.” How many politicians are capable of arousing such emotions? How many have done it since John F. Kennedy?


“I shouldn’t be here.” When Barack Obama speaks of hope in America, he speaks of himself. About this child who hardly seemed predestined to have a political career. Born of a student love affair between a father who came from Kenya and left as soon as his coursework was done and a White mother from Kansas who carried him in her suitcases to Jakarta. About this Black kid who smiles in photos between the two White grandparents who raised him in Hawaii. About this adolescent who tried pot and coke, searched for himself, and finally admitted that since everyone considered him Black, he must be Black.


In pointing to his symbol - the most original of all the candidates running, an “O” in the form of a rising sun, he recently noted before a motivated crowd: “Our signs don’t talk of Obama, they talk of hope. I can only speak of hope because I am here today. I wasn’t born of privilege. My mother was a teenager. My father left when I was two years old. I was raised by my grandparents. I shouldn't be here. But they gave me love, an education, and they gave me hope.”


His education. He was lucky enough to make it into Harvard Law, where he proved that a Black person could lead the prestigious Harvard Law Review. From there he joined a law firm in Chicago, where he had worked previously as a social organizer in troubled neighborhoods. In recent days, in order to convince the Black community that he's one of their own, he has emphasized these years and his commitment to defending the victims of discrimination. “I passed up a job on Wall Street to combat unemployment and poverty in the streets of Chicago,” he said. “I refused to work as a business consultant to be an advocate of civil rights.”


Until now, the African-American community has been the one with the most trouble getting caught-up in his idealism. It has lived a different kind of experience. It's a history steeped in suffering, racism and failure. Blacks couldn’t believe that a White would vote for a Black person. In a veiled message, it's this community that the winner has been addressing since Iowa, where 93 percent of the voters are White: “They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned. … (But) we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come.”


When Hillary Clinton began using the theme of change a few weeks ago, the theme on which Obama has built his campaign, his team knew that something was in the works. She who seemed the “inevitable nominee,” no longer was. She was losing valuable points in the polls. In a panic, her team launched petty attacks accusing Obama of being too ambitious because during elementary school, he wrote that he wanted to be President and insinuating that he not only used drugs but also sold them … Then the former first lady, who touts her experience, launched a new argument. Like a form of ju-jitsu: “Who embodies change more than someone who has been trying to change things for 30 years?”


The rhetoric fizzled out like a wet spliff. And amongst the few sparks, those who dream of change saw the return of the Clintons to the White House like going “back to the future.” With proposals and campaign promises that were nearly identical, they preferred the candidate who promises peace and reconciliation.


A Uniter. Obama should thank Bush in his prayers. Without him, America wouldn’t be seeking a uniter - let alone a redeemer. A man capable of bringing together men and women (one third of women voted for him and not her), Blacks and Whites, Blue (Democrats) and Red (Republicans) … A man who pardons the original sin of the slave and who hold up a mirror to America in which she is beautiful, multi-racial and pragmatic. A man who will heal the gaping wound of the Iraq War and restore America's image in the world. The danger for one who embodies such hope is disappointment. “You know me, you know who I am, what I’m worth,” says Hillary Clinton. “With me, there are no surprises.” Voting for Obama is a “roll of the dice,” warned Bill Clinton. The critics of his inexperience, his idealism and his skin color will cry out. The dreamers will be called on to exercise more realism. But most may prefer to continue to believe in this dream, which Barack Obama sums up in a few words: “It's a story that could only happen in the United States of America.”


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What may be America's next First Family: Senator Obama with his wife Michelle and daughters Malia, left, and Sasha, center, at an after caucus rally last night, after Obama trounced Hillary Clinton.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Sun 'sets on a political era,' Obama and Huckabee win Iowa, 00:02:03, Jan. 3WindowsVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWSWIRE PHOTOS: Barack Triumphs].

Obama and Michelle campaign in Iowa.

Obama volunteers watch the returns. They were not dissapointed.

Obama and his Kenyan dad.

The parents of Barack Obama. His father split when Barack was 10.