Barack Obama and Me

I live in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, not too far from Eagle Rock, where Occidental College is located. Barack Obama moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College. He chose Occidental because he met a girl from Los Angeles while she was on vacation in Hawaii, and decided he wanted to be near her. My decision to move to Los Angeles nearly 20 years ago was also influenced by my then girlfriend, now wife, who was thinking of moving to Los Angeles herself.

After two years at Occidental, Barack Obama transferred to Columbia College in New York City, and received his bachelors degree from there in 1983. Obama majored in political science with a concentration in international relations. By the time he got there, I had already graduated from Columbia College in 1976, majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations.

Barack Obama's next move after New York City was to Chicago, where he worked as a community organizer before deciding to go to Harvard Law School. I'm sure he did not realize that he was following in my footsteps.  I also moved to Chicago after graduating from Columbia College, to attend the University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 1979. Barack Obama was the president of the Harvard Law Review. I was an associate editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. Barack Obama returned to Chicago after graduating from Harvard Law School, where he continued working as a community organizer, spent some time at several downtown law firms, became a state legislator, and for twelve years, quite some time after I had already left, taught constitutional law part-time at the University of Chicago Law School. Barack Obama bought a house on 51st and Greenwood. From my second year of law school through my clerkship in federal district court in Chicago (1977 through 1980), I lived about 6 blocks away from the Obamas' future home, in an apartment on 53rd and Dorchester.

I am the product of a mixed marriage, my father being Jewish and my mother being gentile. While this caused some confusion in my life, I eventually decided to lean more toward my father's side, married a Jewish woman, and have raised my kids as Jews. Barack Obama is also a product of a mixed marriage, and though he was raised by his mother and her parents, adopted his father's ethnic identity, and married an African-American woman. Barack Obama wrote a memoir entitled Dreams from my Father, in part about the effects of his absent father on his life. My father, who was a psychiatrist, lived with us, but was frequently absent because he generally saw private patients in his office downstairs until 10:30 at night. My father was very interested in dreams, and wrote extensively on that subject.

When I was a kid, my hero was John F. Kennedy, and I told people that I wanted to be president of the United States when I grew up. Barack Obama is said to have had similar ambitions at a young age. Oh yes, and we are both big fans of Stevie Wonder. On the other hand, I have never been all that interested in basketball, although I did handle a case for Michael Jordan once.  I guess I could also mention that Barack Obama shares his birthday with my sister.

I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama from the time he announced his candidacy for president, I like to think because of his leadership qualities and the positive message of his campaign. But all of these weird similarities in his life path must have played some role as well.  Whether because of the many coincidental places where our paths have crossed, or whether because I just happened to be searching for ideas similar to those behind Obama's campaign, I have found myself strangely attuned to his message, and felt the need to communicate and explain it to others.  Hence this blog.

Posts made prior to October of 2008 can be found at barackobama.com

(bottom photo is of candidate Obama at a fundraiser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion just a few seconds before shaking my hand)

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