Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

Barack Obama

By David Luhrssen
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Last summer a Biography Channel documentary simply titled “Barack Obama” was released on DVD. Just in time for Inauguration Day, a new edition has been issued, prefaced by jubilant scenes in Chicago from Nov. 4 and additional interviews and footage putting Election Day in perspective. Last summer all bets were off. Now we know he made it.

Clocking in at under an hour, “Barack Obama” largely follows the account the President gave of himself in his two books, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. The son of a white mother of Midwest origin and a Kenyan father who soon returned home, Obama was able to transcend America’s troubled racial history through a combination of character, good fortune and intelligence.

Barack means “Blessed” and in many ways, his ascent from obscurity bears out his name. Blessed with boundless confidence and energy, eloquence and a sharp mind, he overcame his modest origins to stand where Lincoln stood, hand on the great stateman’s Bible as he pronounces the oath of office.

The documentary’s stock visuals are repetitious, even dull, but the interviews with reporters and the President’s family and associates drive home an important point: Obama is a man for whom making a positive difference is a better measure of success than money. He believes that we all must strive toward something greater than ourselves.

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