Monday, January 19, 2009


There are so many great articles about Obama all over the place that it's impossible to keep track of them, and impossible to read more than a handful.

But here are some of the ones that I liked.

From London, the FT has an article about the history of the White House.

In the LA Times, Meghan Daum writes about the poet who will read a poem at the Inaugural, Elizabeth Alexander. I'm looking forward to that.

Also in the LA Times, Obama is in the house - literally. Many people are putting pictures of Obama in their house. Once upon a time, it was JFK or Martin Luther King, Jr. Now it's Obama.

Barack Obama himself observed Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a day of service. Boy does that take me back. I was part of a "day of service" a couple of days before Clinton's Inaugural. A bunch of people decided to try and renovate a historic old theater in Northeast Washington, the Atlas Theater. I was involved with a group called Public Allies. It was a great day - 400 people showed up to paint and clean. I was supposed to find out what the local community wanted from this place. I walked around the neighborhood with an older African American man named Robert Jackson (I'll never forget him). He explained to me what the neighborhood needed, but I never had a chance to communicate to the other people involved. It was just too crazy of a day. Three US Senators showed - media was there by the truckload. Cypress Hill did a concert in the street.

But at the end of the day, it was boarded up, and everybody went home, to see what tomorrow would bring. Plans were a little unclear.

I went back the next day. I was the only one. I spent the day talking to a homeless guy, and he ended up trusting me. But nothing happened there for months.

That was 16 years ago. It was symbolic of the best and worst of the Clinton administration; a lot of excitement, but not a lot of focus. But the best part was that experiences like that trained a lot of energetic young liberals who are now in a position to take advantage of the lessons they learned. For example, later that year Public Allies opened up an office in Chicago, and hired, as the Executive Director, a woman named Michelle Obama.

She was recommended for the job by a member of the board of Public Allies - her husband.

So now we have come full circle - the enthusiasm of that day did not, in fact, dissipate with the lack of follow through the next day. There was follow-up. It took a while. But wow, what results.

I didn't start out this post planning to write about that day so long ago. But I hope I can be excused for getting carried away.

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