A Promised Land by Barack Obama – A Book Review

Though this 701 page book took me a very long time to read, I appreciated every minute of it. A Promised Land confirmed everything I already knew I admired about President Barack Obama–he’s intelligent, thoughtful, honest, studious, and devoted to his wife, his children, the American people, and democracy in general.

A Promised Land offers ample access into the grueling day-to-day affairs of a campaign trail, the difficulties in achieving even the smallest of things in government, and the highlights of President Obama’s first four years in office. After reading this book, I will never look at politics or the office of the president the same.

However, the most fascinating aspect of the book is the simple insight into Barack Obama as a human being. He reveals himself not just as the President Of the United States, but also as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a neighbor, a friend, and a man. He doesn’t claim to be perfect, nor does he pretend to be. Though he certainly spent time discussing his victories, he also admitted his defeats and the mistakes that led to them.

This kind of authenticity really spoke to me. Granted, I understand Barack Obama wrote this very book about Barack Obama, so there is obviously the potential for cherry picking and sugar coating. But it didn’t strike me as either. To me, A Promised Land felt very candid.

As you know, A Promised Land initially intended to be a single volume. However, because President Obama is articulate, verbose, and a talented writer, he needed to split his two terms as president into two volumes.

This first volume obviously tackles his first four years in office–both how he got there and what he did during that time. However, it also subtly acknowledges those moments that, now in hindsight, led to Donald Trump’s presidency, the division within the Republican Party, and the schism attempting to rip America apart.

I won’t lie to you–this is not an easy read. It goes into great detail concerning the complexities of politics, the nuances of the presidency, and the intricacies of the geopolitical landscape. However, it’s a very informative read, and a rather rewarding one at that.

Regardless of your feelings about President Obama, if nothing else, I recommend A Promised Land simply to offer insight into what it means to be president.

The Importance of Action

Note:  Originally Published 10-14-07

You may have seen on the news lately the wise and all-knowing talking heads are coming down pretty hard on Barack Obama because he dared to put on a suit without an American flag pin on his lapel. 

It must have been a slow news day, for this thing blew up and he was finally forced to defend himself by saying that his actions display his patriotism far more than simply wearing a pin.

I found the whole thing pretty funny because it reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer took part in an Aids walk, but refused to wear the ribbon.  He ultimately got ganged up on by the other walkers and beaten up because he refused to wear the ribbon, even though he was actively taking part in the walk.  He finished the walk, by the way, though he had to drag himself across the finish line.

After 911, I think wearing the American flag pin proved to solidify one’s own resolve in their patriotism; it served to reassure people in distressing times; and it simply made people feel better on the inside.  Somehow, however, as the years went by we started judging each other on if we wore a pin.  And, as is the unfortunate trend, we have now exploited the pin to a degree where if a high level politician is seen without it, it becomes the main topic of the day across the news.  The original purpose of the pin has been objectified and bent to serve ulterior motives, and I find that despicable.  In my mind, that pin serves as a metaphor for far greater issues taking place within our nation.

I’m not a particularly political person.  I don’t vote straight Republican or Democrat.  I try to go with whoever seems most intelligent on the issues that I feel are important.  And one issue that is important to me is the fact so many of us, myself included, talk a big game but rarely take any true form of action.  We dream; we wish; we say what we’re going to do; we brag about accomplishments yet to be executed; yet, when it comes time to actually tally the score, few of us find that we have lived up to our own talk.  And then, when people actually hold us accountable for failing to live up to our boasts, we take offense.

I worry that we’ve become a nation of talkers, not doers.  What’s the point of wearing a flag if your actions don’t display patriotism in the least?  What’s the point of saying how awesome you are if you’ve never actually done anything?  We’re becoming a culture that praises people who have no discernable accomplishments, and then we mock those that do.  This is troubling.

This is beginning to sound judgmental and harsh, and it’s certainly not meant to.  I actually wanted this little essay to be motivating.  I wanted to encourage you to chase your dreams, to go out and make something special happen!  I wanted to get you psyched up not just to wear the pin, but also to actually do something that validates the pin!

So, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and take action!