Saturday, July 20, 2013

How the Hell Did Obama Get Invited to This?

There's a story circulating that when President Obama was first running for the Senate, he was at a party and a party guest mistook him for a waiter---so much for lefties not profiling. But what I want to know is how Obama, who was running in Illinois, got invited to a major league insider party in Manhattan, long before even lefties in general knew who he was? Who was opening paths for Obama? Here's the report from Kath on that party.(The bold is mine)
On a warm weekday evening in 2003, a group that can fairly be described as representative of the media elite gathered at one if its favored venues: the garden behind the Manhattan apartment of journalists Tina Brown and Harold Evans.

The occasion was the publication of “The Clinton Wars,” by Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton. Editors from the New Yorker and the New York Times were in attendance along with media figures like Steven Brill and Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner. The guests mingled and sipped wine. Even Clinton showed up, instantly becoming the epicenter of attention.

I had not been invited but attended the event as the “plus one” of political columnist Eric Alterman, who wrote about the party in The Guardian on Thursday. At the time, I was a freelance journalist not yet employed by The Wall Street Journal. Eager for an opportunity to find a good story or meet an editor who might give me work, I accepted Alterman’s invitation to join him at an event littered with literati.

Once there, though, I felt awkward and out of place.

Standing by myself I noticed, on the periphery of the party, a man looking as awkward and out-of-place as I felt. I approached him and introduced myself. He was an Illinois state senator who was running for the U.S. Senate. He was African American, one of a few black people in attendance.

We spoke at length about his campaign. He was charismatic in a quiet, solemn way. I told him I wanted to pitch a profile of him to a national magazine. (The magazine later rejected my proposal.)

The following year I watched as he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, and then won his Senate seat that fall. On Tuesday, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. 
But what I will always remember is as I was leaving that party in 2003, I was approached by another guest, an established author. He asked about the man I had been talking to. Sheepishly he told me he didn’t know that Obama was a guest at the party, and had asked him to fetch him a drink.


  1. without resorting to Sheriff Apaio of Maricopa county's investigation of Barry (wonder whatever happened to that) I would suggest it was a numbers game, that while support among blacks and latinos was picking up it would never be enough to put them over the top without a brown face leading the fight. So they had to find somebody well spoken, with no prior history with the usual sort or black democratic pol, somebody coachable.

  2. See: Dreams of my Real Father