December 17, 2008

Obama and me

For once Time magazine got it right. It just picked Barack Obama as its Person of the Year:

Person of the Year 2008It's unlikely that you were surprised to see Obama's face on the cover. He has come to dominate the public sphere so completely that it beggars belief to recall that half the people in America had never heard of him two years ago—that even his campaign manager, at the outset, wasn't sure Obama had what it would take to win the election. He hit the American scene like a thunderclap, upended our politics, shattered decades of conventional wisdom and overcame centuries of the social pecking order. Understandably, you may be thinking Obama is on the cover for these big and flashy reasons: for ushering the country across a momentous symbolic line, for infusing our democracy with a new intensity of participation, for showing the world and ourselves that our most cherished myth—the one about boundless opportunity—has plenty of juice left in it.Comment:  I can't help feeling that I'm partially responsible for Obama's success. After all, we were both at Occidental College in 1980. He was a freshman and I was a senior. Is it difficult to believe that we had a class together, met at a party, or at least bumped into each other? I suspect that young Barry (the name he went by at the time) saw something of my fiery determination in my eyes and decided to go into politics on the spot. From that moment on, his ascendancy to the presidency was almost assured.

Or not.

It's possible I learned something from him too. Perhaps our brief, hypothetical encounter triggered my interest in looking at history and culture from a multicultural perspective. I'd already been leaning in this direction from my world history classes, and perhaps meeting Barry was the final piece of the puzzle. Seeing him, I may have thought, "A bright, charming guy like him could become president of the United States someday. What a wonderful testament to our rich, diverse society."

Too bad our possible meeting is lost in the mists of time. Alas, we'll never know how much I influenced Obama or vice versa.

Anyway, here are some masterful photos to celebrate the occasion:

Obama:  The College Years
Barack Obama on Flickr

For more on the subject, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Below:  Young Rob pretending to be a cool cat just like his possible acquaintance Barry Obama.


dmarks said...

Did Disco Rob love disco music?

Rob said...

Yes, and I still do! That was the era when people blasted the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in their dorms.

Lisa Savy said...

Ho do we know that's really you, and not Paul Michael Glaser?