Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama and His Journey Chronicled
As I write this, MSNBC and CNN are all aflutter with their continuing coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States. Right now, they’re covering the president-elect’s whistle stop train tour as he makes his way from Delaware to Washington DC. I’ve been watching it off and on for several hours now, and frankly, it’s becoming redundant. It’s kind of like watching the SuperBowl pre-game show or one of the interminable red carpet warm-ups to all the movie and TV awards programs flooding the airwaves these days. I mean, the warm-ups are nice and all, in a fawning all over ourselves sort of way, and they do give us ample time to collect up our chips, dips and assorted beverages before settling into our comfy sofas for the main event.

And I’m ready for the main event already. There’s only so many chips, dips and adult beverages one can consume between now and Tuesday, when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. We’ll say our farewells, fond and otherwise, to Dubbya, and finally, finally stop referring to Barack as President-elect Obama. We’ll breathe a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday, even as we look with some trepidation to the future. It’s not that we fear the change that has finally come—it’s the glut of souvenirs from third parties that will send our heads swirling.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my own little collection of Obama memorabilia—campaign buttons that I acquired during the journey, my “Yes We Did” poster from MoveOn, an article I wrote nearly a year ago supporting him-- little items I treasure from the campaign itself. I’m equally proud that I don’t own any of those so-called limited edition Franklin Mint Obama gold coins. And I haven’t bought any of those “Special Edition” news magazines commemorating Obama’s election. Nor do I recommend anybody rushing out to buy the various cable news channel DVDs that are already available for pre-order.

I will recommend one DVD, however. Barack Obama: The Man and His Journey is released today, and as souvenirs go, it’s about as good as it gets. As you might expect, it’s a bit on the sentimental side, and lacks a lot of depth. But as a straightforward biography, it contains several nuggets that have hitherto gone unnoticed in the whirlwind of the 2008 campaign. For instance, as a state senator in Illinois, he introduced an unprecedented 800 bills, 181 of which were passed into law. We also realize that his multi-ethnic heritage forged his viewpoints—not fitting in anywhere in the traditional senwe made him fit in everywhere. And it may very well be that his love of basketball, both as a participant and as a spectator, shaped his competitive prowess.

What really stands out in this portrait, though, is the attention given to Obama’s formidable intellect and his determination to make things happen. Narrated by Blair Underwood, and featuring exclusive interviews with Martin Luther King III, George Lopez, Hill Harper, Roland Martin, Linda Johnson Rice, Congressman Jesse Jackson as well as other prominent national personalities in the fields of politics, entertainment, religion, business and academia.

This is a portrait created out of admiration. Co-produced by Ebony/Jet and Vivendi Entertainment, it doesn’t offer a lot of controversy, though there are clips of the McCain-Palin gaffes during the latter days of the campaign. Even those, though are brushed off as part of Obama’s strategy. So are the sparse extra features, consisting mainly of seven vignettes that showcase Brian McKnight’s song “Yes We Can,”and also showcase Obama’s view on economics, family, the war, economics and the like. Oh, and there’s also an official Obama holographic trading card.

President Barack Obama The Man and His Journey is a somewhat uneven of the man’s meteoric rise to the presidency. It would be nice if it spent a bit more time on his struggles, and a little less on how he triumphed despite those odds. The new President has major obstacles confronting him, as do all of us. But for now, celebrating his ascendancy is an inspiration to all of us. For the first time in our history, we can really believe theat mantra that anyone can rise to any position they want o attain.

Yes we can, indeed.

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