The Obama Phenomenon: An Interview with Paul Street by Adam Burke and Little Village*

Adam Burke: Iowa City author Paul Street’s latest book “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics” (Paradigm: September 2008), is a critical report on the phenomenal rise of the junior senator from Illinois.  Street is a historian and former Chicagoan who previously worked as the research director of the Chicago Urban League.  Obama fanatics will read this book t their devotional peril, but this is no slimy hatchet-job like Jerome Corsi’s “The Obama Nation.” Street’s book is thoroughly researched and contains acute analysis of the political games people play.  He examines the money horse that all politicians must ride and gives pitch-perfect analysis of race and U.S. politics in a chapter titled “How ‘Black’ is Obama?” Street also looks at the “anti-war” candidate and the conditions of Obama’s rise to the top of national politics. He answered our questions by e-mail.


* Little Village is an independent News and Culture Magazine in Iowa City, Iowa. A shorter version of this interview (below)appeared in the October 2008 issue of Little Village (LV), which can be read online at www.littlevillagemag.com



Burke/LV: Your new book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (September 2008) is heavily researched and footnoted; you quote from a wide range of sources; and you’ve been a critic of Obama since his 2004 DNC keynote address What drew you to this subject?


Street: I figured Obama was a leading future presidential candidate after the Keynote Address – a very conservative speech. Once Kerry lost I considered that Obama would be irresistible for 2008 to certain sections of the power elite and much of the desperate electorate.  Along with telegenic charisma and speechmaking ability, I thought his half-black identity, his novelty, his overnight celebrity, his Chicago and Wall Street connections, and the perception (false, as I show in my book’s fourth chapter) that he was an “antiwar” candidate would put him over the top in the primaries. 


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