The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Foreshadowing Quotes, Oddities, and Stories About Obama from the Archives


The kind of odd, funny, or revealing things you find with Lexis-Nexis… 


From a profile of Barack Obama by Linda Matchan, “A Law Review Breakthrough,” The Boston Globe, February 15, 1990:

“I thought, ‘This guy sounds like he’s president of the country already,’” said John Owens, a former co-worker from Chicago, during a telephone interview. “I’ve never met anyone who could leave that impression after only five minutes.”
From a profile on Obama by Tammerlin Drummond, “Barack Obama’s Law: Personality: Harvard Law Review’s First Black President Plans a Life of Public Service. His Multicultural Background Gives Him Unique Perspective,” The Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1990: 

After graduation next year, Obama says he probably will spend two years at a corporate law firm, then look for community work. Down the road, he plans to run for public office… 

Yet some of Obama’s peers question the motives of this second-year law student. They find it puzzling that despite Obama’s openly progressive views on social issues, he has also won support from staunch conservatives. Ironically, he has come under the most criticism from fellow black students for being too conciliatory toward conservatives and not choosing more blacks to other top positions on the law review. 

“He’s willing to talk to them (the conservatives) and he has a grasp of where they are coming from, which is something a lot of blacks don’t have and don’t care to have,” said Christine Lee, a second-year law student who is black. “His election was significant at the time, but now it’s meaningless because he’s becoming just like all the others (in the Establishment).” … 

Few students at the law review were prepared for the deluge of interview requests for Obama from newspapers, radio and television stations. Strange letters of congratulations began arriving. 

Shortly after the elections, a package turned up at the law review office with no return address. Obama said he hesitated to open it because of the spree of recent mail bombings targeted at civil rights activists nationwide. When the package was finally opened, inside were two packages of dim sum, with no explanation.


Some students made light of the media invasion, posting a memo titled “The Barack Obama Story, a Made for TV Movie, Starring Blair Underwood as Barack Obama.”

David Margolick, “At The Bar: Witnesses For the Positive, Promising Young Black Men Adorn A Harvard Calendar,” The New York Times, January 11, 1991:

Troy Chapman read all about them: Some were convicted of beating up a jogger in Central Park. Another was accused, falsely as it turns out, of murdering a pregnant woman in Boston. It was high time, Mr. Chapman concluded, to present a different portrait of young black men like himself. For that he turned to his colleagues at Harvard Law School.


Mr. Chapman, a third-year law student at Harvard, is responsible for a calendar now hanging in dormitory rooms and dean’s offices throughout Cambridge as well as in Washington, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. Each month, a photograph and personal profile focuses on a different member of the law school’s black male population.

A few generations back, one would have had a hard time putting together even a pair of black men at Harvard Law School, let alone a calendar. Instead, Mr. Chapman faced the pleasant chore of choosing from among the 90 or so black men now enrolled there — a task in which he was assisted by some of the school’s 110 black women. So intense was the competition for a place as monthly pinup that even Barack Obama, the first black president of The Harvard Law Review, did not make the cut.

If Obama wins the presidency, his friend John Owens is going to rank among the all-time great prognosticators… 

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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