Obama Speaks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      The angry words and nasty implications that greet a novice entering politics could easily turn away even the most well-intentioned from public service. In an arena where empathy is hard to come by, a leader who embraces this desirable trait is likely to become a public favorite to the point of being treated like a celebrity. A rising star in the Democratic Party favored by many to become the first black president of the United States, Illinois junior senator Barack Obama is the breath of fresh air needed to change the course of politics. By combining his diplomatic approach to controversial issues with a sense of unassuming panache, Obama has quickly become a popular favorite.

Stepping onto the stage at the JFK Library in Boston to conduct a discussion with Bob Herbert of The New York Times on topics of national interest in addition to his political future, the first words out of Obama’s mouth were an apology for his lateness due to the terrible weather. Since apologies from politicians are few and far between, Obama’s sincerity struck a chord with many of the audience of media members and concerned citizens.

Herbert launched into a discussion of the Iraq war, eager to hear Obama’s presumably negative thoughts on the subject. Instead, Obama spoke against the war in Iraq but for the war in Afghanistan, saying, “The war was not based on fact, but rather ideology.” He pointed out that “the burden of this war has been borne by a small group, which is why we went there ... had there been a draft, we would not have launched this war.” Contemplating the truth of his words, the room fell eerily silent.

It became apparent that Obama is dissatisfied with the idea of fame, admitting, “It’s a bit much ... stuff that feeds the ego is less satisfying as time goes on.” Instead, he said, he gets satisfaction from doing his job, whether his endeavors are successful or not. “People want substantive responses to the challenges we face. It’s not enough for Democrats to say, ‘We’re not Bush,’” he pointed out.

Obama spoke briefly about the need to address the issue of 46 million Americans without health insurance, the need for a better energy policy, and the importance of improving the education system in order to motivate students. He strongly believes that there is a middle ground on these topics on which people from both parties can agree, and he is interested in finding it.

With the hype that follows Obama, rumors of a run for the presidency in 2008 have surfaced. When Herbert introduced the topic, Obama responded by speaking of how demanding and time-consuming the job is. As he diplomatically pointed out that a successful president must make enormous sacrifices to serve the people, it became apparent that this is a topic he refuses to take lightly; after all, “If you want to go into public service, you want to have influence.” So, Herbert asked, could he see himself making the sacrifices necessary to be president? Obama responded “Sure,” an answer that garnered thunderous applause. Unlike the cynical attitude that greets most politicians who yearn for a presidential run, Obama has proven to have the fresh ideas necessary for bringing change to the White House.

During his brief time in the Senate, Barack Obama has helped pass measures in favor of ethics reform, helped Illinois veterans collect disability pay, and worked against America’s dependency on oil. He has proven through words and actions that he is willing to do whatever is necessary for him to best serve.

A politician who tries to see both sides of an argument, listens to the opinions of the public, and takes responsibility for his power - who knew?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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