Who Are These Guys, Really?

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Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

If you're interested, it is relatively easy to see where Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) stand on the issues. (You can check their websites.) It's harder to find information about who they are, where they've come from, and how they act.

What was Obama like at Harvard Law, when he edited the Harvard Law Review ? Or when he first ran for office? What was it like to sit next to McCain at Annapolis? Is there any truth to those stories about his temper?

This week, we're going to bring you two shows about the candidates, focusing on who they are. Today: Obama. We'll hear from someone who knew him in Cambridge, a political opponent in Chicago, and a reporter who has covered his career.

What questions do you have about Obama['s character, interests, and personality]?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Has Senator Obama kicked his smoking habit? How does this play out in his campaign?

Sent by andrea | 2:09 PM | 8-19-2008

I'm incredibly disappointed that NPR is pursuing this line of questioning. Every other press outlet is obsessed with the nuances of personality and this 'soft' reporting.

Sure, we can get some idea of their stand on their websites. I'm sure we'll find that their economic proposals will give us more money, that they will clean up the environment, that they'll keep America strong and protected, and that they like apple pie and love puppies.

We need actual *reporting* to look at their positions, parse out the reality of their proposals and their records, and explain what their positions *really* mean, not just the sunny press releases from the campaign office.

PLEASE, please... stop covering personalities like the rest of the media. You have the time and resources to actually address ISSUES. In the name of God, USE them!!

Do some real reporting on POLICIES and ISSUES!!!

Sent by Bill F. | 2:16 PM | 8-19-2008

How can Obama's personality (as an anthropologist in thinking, deep thinking mind) succeed in politics as many of the GOP misconstrue his nuanced answers to very
serious questions. He seems both sides and many issues do not have a simple black and white answer. From his talk on faith this week-end, people are now misconstrueing his answer about on when does life begin and he answered- answering that is above his pay grade- meaning God only knows. This to me is a good quality but many want him to come out fighting- but this kind of nature has brought us to Iraq. We need Obama's personality but others may misrepresent that.

Sent by Dr. Conchita ndege | 2:28 PM | 8-19-2008

Comment to caller regarding Senator Obama's racial identity:

It is my observation that the vast majority of persons in America who are considered "black" or "African-American" have some degree of "white" blood in their family. In contrast, the majority of persons considered "white" or "American" in America do NOT have black blood in their family.
This categorizing of persons of color goes back to slavery and the 1/28th rule during Jim Crow (i.e. Anyone with 1/28th or a drop of black blood is considered to be a part of the Negro race).
Additionally, if he had to identify with any group and / or subjected to the benefits and societal consequences of any group it would be African-American based upon his appearance.
Unfortunately, these are the "rules of race" in America.

If Senator Obama was involved in something "negative" would there be any question of his "ethnicity?" In other words, would he be considered "just black" or would society desire him to be "other?"

Sent by Eric C. | 2:34 PM | 8-19-2008

I'd like to know if Mr. Obama has the ability to make tough decisions, and the grit to carry them though, even if they are unpopular decisions.

Sent by Fay | 2:44 PM | 8-19-2008

Yesterday as I walked the isle in a food super store only to find that milk is 5.94. And to think most of us complain about gas prices.

Sent by Uribe, Rafael | 2:47 PM | 8-19-2008

I agree with Bill F. It would be more useful to have a side-by-side of votes in the Senate and an enumeration of all votes in political life for both candidates with explanations of what each bill was about.

Sent by D. Goo | 5:31 PM | 8-19-2008

I agree with the first poster. NPR should be comparing Obama and McCain's positions and past voting record. Lets have some hard news please - not this soft filler. Also, I would like to see NPR give more coverage to 3rd party candidates. While I know that Obama or McCain will likely win - in my view, and in the view of millions of Americans, both candidates are virtually the same on the most important policies. They are the same on continuing and expanding the American empire, and the continued destruction of the middle class through inflationary monetary policy and lack of fiscal discipline. I plan to vote 3rd party - for true change. I will not vote for the false-hope of McBama.

Sent by zack | 2:22 AM | 8-20-2008

Will a McCain administration (finally) enter the United States into the International Criminal Court?

Sent by Patricia Valek | 9:14 AM | 8-20-2008

Where is the podcast for this episode?

Sent by Sara Berry | 9:35 PM | 8-23-2008

This show "Who is Barack Obama" broadcast 8/19/08 is missing from the files posted on iTunes. The John McCain show (which mentioned this show...)was posted without problems. Please repost the show files so that the Obama profile is available.

Sent by Esray | 12:38 AM | 8-25-2008

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