Harold Washington

The Next Daley

After trailing along with Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel on a Sunday morning last month, I got a chance to talk to him when we stopped at Bagel on Damen, a small coffee shop in Wicker Park that features fresh bagels and Stumptown coffee. Emanuel had just visited a church, a South Side restaurant, and a North Avenue bicycle store, at which he proposed going the Daley administration one better by adding 25 rather than eight miles a year to the city’s dedicated bike lanes.

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Among the many distinctions David Axelrod has achieved in his career, there is one that requires special elaboration: He is, it turns out, one of the few customers to have ever run a tab at Manny’s, the Chicago cafeteria and deli. This is not because the odd knish ($4.25) or side of potato chips ($0.75) threatened to leave him cash-poor. It is, rather, because Axelrod has long styled himself someone who accumulates wisdom at places regular people frequent, not the lacquered haunts of downtown Washington. What the Oval Room is to Beltway consultant-dom, Manny’s is to Axelrod.

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Creation Myth

In late October 1987, Barack Obama and Jerry Kellman took a weekend off from their jobs as community organizers in Chicago and traveled to a conference on social justice and the black church at Harvard. During an evening break in the schedule, they strolled around campus in their shirtsleeves, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Two-and-a-half years earlier, Kellman had hired Obama to organize residents of Chicago's South Side. Now, Obama had something to tell his friend and mentor. It had to do, in part, with his father.

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Creation Myth

IN LATE OCTOBER 1987, Barack Obama and Jerry Kellman took a weekend off from their jobs as community organizers in Chicago and traveled to a conference on social justice and the black church at Harvard. During an evening break in the schedule, they strolled around campus in their shirtsleeves, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Two-and-a-half years earlier, Kellman had hired Obama to organize residents of Chicago's South Side. Now, Obama had something to tell his friend and mentor. It had to do, in part, with his father.

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Cinderella Story

It was a cool, damp afternoon when Barack Obama arrived to speak at an antiwar rally in Chicago's Federal Plaza on October 2, 2002. The scene was ragtag. A metal tower had been festooned with strips of white cloth upon which rally attendees wrote personalized peace messages. Protesters danced to a band featuring kazoos and a marching skeleton. Jesse Jackson was to be the day's marquee speaker. But it was Obama, wearing a war is not an option lapel pin, who stole the show. Obama's 926-word speech denounced a "dumb war. A rash war.

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Operation Push

In 2002, Barack Obama was an unknown Illinois state senator with long-shot ambitions of moving from the political backwater of Springfield to the big-time of Washington, D.C. But, before he acted on those ambitions, he wanted to get the blessing of another young, black––and far more famous––Illinois politician, one whom he essentially hoped to leapfrog on his way to the U.S. Senate. And so, one morning that year, Obama had breakfast with U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

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The Agitator

In 1985, Barack Obama traveled halfway across the country to take a job that he didn't fully understand. But, while he knew little about this new vocation--community organizer--it still had a romantic ring, at least to his 24- year-old ears. With his old classmates from Columbia, he had talked frequently about political change.Now, he was moving to Chicago to put that talk into action. His1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, recounts his idealistic effusions: "Change won't come from the top, I would say. Change will come from a mobilized grass roots. That's what I'll do.

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The day after the Super Tuesday primaries, it looked as if Vice President Al Gore had wrapped up not only the Democratic nomination but also the presidency. He seemed poised to capture the great political center from Texas Governor George W. Bush, who, in order to secure his party's nomination, had mortgaged his convictions to the religious right. But since then the Bush campaign has made a fundamental transition—from a primary-election strategy based on party activists and interest groups to a general-election strategy based on wooing a broad electorate. The Gore campaign has not.

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