Sharing my learnings from the book, A Promised Land by Barack Obama
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
- a promised land is the first memoir of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States & the first non-white man to be elected to the nation’s highest office.
- Obama had the dream to unite Americans of different political persuasions and from different racial & socioeconomic backgrounds
- When Obama was in high school, he started asking questions his grandparents couldn’t answer. He turned to books to answer those questions. And it was this reading habit that gave him a decent sense of politics. In college, he kept up with his reading to impress girls.
- when he transferred to Colombia, he became obsessed with the idea of politics in practice.
- upon graduation, he took a job in Chicago working to stabilize communities adversely affected by steel plant closures. This work got his head out of the theory books and forced him to listen to people and helped him understand his identity as a mixed race black man
- Obama wasn’t satisfied with the slow change thus he applied to Harvard Law school and got accepted. He spent all his time reading about civics but was rewarded for it. He got a book deal and high paying job offers but Obama took a different route
- in year 2000, Obama’s life was doing okay: he married Michelle, taken 2 jobs in a Chicago practicing & teaching law and he had an opportunity to run for state senate and won twice. He continued to pursue by rubbing for the House of Representatives despite Michelle’s protest and he lost. With this, Obama realized he’d made an arrogant decision to run a race he couldn’t win and moreover, he disappointed his young family
- however, he still believed in his dream of uniting Americans of different political persuasions and this can’t be done in local races. He needed to run for national office. He resolved to try one last time with Michelle’s blessing
- David Axelrod was Obama’s secret weapon, a journalist turned political media consultant. Obama’s speech on Iraq war went viral on blogs & MySpace. Then, he was invited to give a keynote address at the 2004 democratic national convention with his speech focusing on the audacity of hope. A few weeks later, Obama was elected to the senate.
- as soon as he stepped off the DNC stage, people have been telling him he’d one day be president. Obama started considering running for president when Nevada senator Harry Reid told him he should think about it and a talk with Senator Ted Kennedy saying, “Moments like this are rare. You think you may not be ready. But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you.”
- Obama announced his candidacy in February 2007. The campaign had 2 things: a top notch team led by David Axelrod and money.
- a black president? Obama worked on a speech on race. He wanted to communicate to Americans that while Reverend Wright was indeed a part of his narrative, so is his white grandmother, a woman who sometimes got scared when passing black oriole on the street. The speech landed with 1 million viewers in 24-hour time. A record at the time
- when it came to Obama to pick a running mate, Joe Biden wasn’t the immediate choice. But Joe was smart, compassionate and he had heart. It was an easy decision in the end
- Obama-Biden ran against McCain-Palin with McCain’s campaign struggling early on. McCain desperate move to suspend campaign to deal with the financial crisis, it became clear that Obama was going to win
- Obama’s focus at the start is to halt the economy’s collapse. He passed a fiscal stimulus bill that offered a range of benefits (food stamps, extended unemployment insurance, middle class tax cuts & aid) to help people avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and other employees.
- Ted Kennedy had given the Obamas a Portuguese Water Dog as a present and it became a cherished member of the family but Kennedy was terminally ill with a brain tumor. This led Obama to push for the Affordable Care Act. Republicans were against it but Obama was able to push it through the senate and won. It was also the time that Obama had quit smoking
- Obama told his staff that he wanted to make a hunt for Osama bin Laden (the architect of the 9/11 attacks) a top priority. Bin Laden’s continued freedom was a taunt to American power and a painful issue for the 9/11 families.
- In 2010, CIA had found a compound on Pakistan where they had gathered intelligence on a man they called the Pacer (assumed Bin Laden). After nearly 2 years, Obama authorized the special ops mission (a navy seal team would fly into Pakistan from Afghanistan by helicopter to raid the compound, kill Bin laden & escape before the Pakistani police or military knew they were there). The mission was a success.