Skip to comments.Obama's quiet years in N.Y.C.
Posted on 01/14/2007 8:29:55 AM PST by mdittmar
You can usually spot future politicians in college.
They're the backslappers and the organizers, the ones who talk your ear off, appear so sure of themselves and always seem to pop up when a camera starts snapping.
Barack Obama wasn't one of those guys.
The Illinois senator, who has become a political superstar and is expected to jump into the 2008 presidential race any day now, spent three years in New York as a young man and graduated from Columbia University - where he barely left a mark.
"He was not at all a high-profile student, not the sort of guy who is class president, who everyone says is going to have a future in politics," said Stuart Levi, a fellow international relations major from Columbia's class of 1983.
"It's funny - there are people like that from my class, but he wasn't one of them," said Levi, now a lawyer at Skadden, Arps.
Obama, who writes in his best-selling memoir of moving to New York from Los Angeles in his junior year after he decided to get serious about his future, was a transfer student who lived off-campus in a series of iffy sublets and spent a lot of time in the library.
Many of his classmates don't remember Obama. He's not in the yearbook. Columbia couldn't find a picture of him at school.
"You didn't see him at a lot of events and activities," said classmate Gerrard Bushell, who remembers Obama's arrival mostly because there weren't many black students.
"I remember him being very quiet. He had a nice smile. A thoughtful approach. You knew he was smart, but you never got a sense that here was someone who wanted to overwhelm you."
Bushell, who went on to work in city politics, said he was impressed with Obama but didn't foresee his meteoric rise.
"We knew he had what it took to be successful," he said. "But this is amazing."
Obama opened his book, "Dreams from My Father," in Manhattan, when he was living in a dump on E. 94th St. that he described vividly.
"The apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn't work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle."
Obama's first night in New York was spent curled up around his luggage in an alleyway on W. 109th St. - because his new landlord was AWOL.
He claims one of his roommates while in New York was an undocumented Pakistani immigrant named Sadiq, although he warns some of the people in the book are "composites."
Obama wrote that the wealth and stark racial divisions of Manhattan in the early 1980s had a profound effect on him.
"I stopped getting high. I ran 3 miles a day and fasted on Sundays. For the first time in years I applied myself to my studies and started keeping a journal of daily reflections and very bad poetry," he wrote.
"You're becoming a bore," his friends told him.
He went to socialist conferences at Cooper Union and African cultural fairs in Brooklyn and started lecturing his relatives until they worried he'd become "one of those freaks you see on the streets around here."
He wrestled with his racial identity, and one of the casualties was his year-long relationship with a wealthy white girlfriend. "I pushed her away," he wrote.
After graduating, he took an analyst job at Business International Corp. to pay off his loans while looking for a grass-roots organizing job. He had an office and a secretary but it bothered him to be the only black executive, he wrote, so he quit.
Soon after, Obama lit out for a $13,000-a-year job as a community organizer in Chicago - where his destiny awaited.
24K liberal. He's golden. He's run all the liberal traps, gone through all the liberal wickets. He's a victim of da man who re-invented himself. He's ready for launch.
So who is he fronting for? Has he been identified many years ago, like Clinton was, to be president,and supported and groomed for the position?
Obama's religion is listed as United Church of Christ. However, it is noted that he did indeed spend time in Indonesia as a child, where he attended a Muslim school for two years and a Catholic school for two years. No indication there as to whether the Muslim school was Wahabbi.
Incidentally, Obama wrote an earlier autobiography which was published in 1995.
Read the links on the UCC church in Chicago that appear above. This is one of the most radical/liberal black churches in America. I would hesitate to even call them Christian. It sounds more like Unitarian Universalist clap-trap to me.
Oh, I don't quibble about his politics. I'm just saying he's not Muslim.
Yeah, I've read that earlier book. He became Christian in the late 1980s, I think.
Ah, one of the East Side's charming old-law tenements, where the floors on the two sides of the building slope toward the center. Now renting at a lower rate than Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Barack Hussein Obama was a Muslim for almost 25 years.
Muslims view Obama as first a Muslim and as an apostate Muslim, he faces the death penalty in nearly the entire Islamic world.
There is no dispute among either ancient or modern Muslim scholars that under Islamic law, a murtadd, one who turns his back on Islam, an apostate, must be put to death. Irtidad, apostasy, is committing treason against God, and traitors deserve to be killed. At a minimum, other Muslims would shun him if not kill him and his mother. The fact they are eagerly welcomed by the Muslim community begs the question, is he their 'Manchurian' candidate?
At a minimum, Obama should be asked if he will support the efforts of Christian missionaries in Islamic countries to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity.
i read that part. he was never a practicing muslim. i honestly don't know what he called himself.
of course, on the radical politics, we agree: he's gotta be stopped.
Obama reads like the ultimate Sleeper to me.
A best seller huh? I've never seen it anywhere. Who exactly bought this best seller?
I respectfully question the use of "Never."
I would suspect that he was a practicing Muslim during the time he spent at a madrassah in Indonesia.
i read that thing already; you don't have to keep quoting it. i'm saying that's not true. obama didn't identify himself as a muslim before "converting," genuinely or not. he was raised in a secular home in which his grandmother was a nominal but non-practicing christian, and his mother was just plain secular. arguments can be made about whether his UCC church is "real christianity," and in my view it's pretty weak. but he simply wasn't a muslim.
oops, sorry, i clicked on the wrong comment and thought you were just making the same post again.
regardless, there's a big difference between your asserting he was a muslim for 25 years and your suspicion that he was a muslim when he went to a nominally muslim school in jakarta. otherwise, wouldn't you have equal suspicion that he was a christian when he went to a christian school there?
Yeah, right. BARF.
His "Sleeper Cell" years?
Lol, you did a lot of posting today. I missed some of these earliest ones.
Brand new graphics with Obama. Very neat ones, I like it!
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