Episode 71: David Mendell – Barack Obama: From Promise to Power – Conscious Evolutionary Politician of Our Time
“I can wholeheartedly say that this has been a most stimulating dialogue. Thank you so much.” – David Mendell, author and journalist with the Chicago Tribune
David Mendell is the first and premier biographer of the man newly elected President of the United States, Barack Obama. This dialogue illuminates the background of the man and his/our mission in ways that illustrate why he is the destined choice in this role of and for our global zeitgeist, the world soul consciousness, the unfolding spirit of the times. With the election of Barack Hussein Obama, we have successfully crossed an evolutionary threshold and are in position to dynamically move forward as a species.
The etymology of Barack is “blessed” and the etymology of Hussein is “beautiful” or “handsome”. By our collective choice in this instance we have become blessed to once again talk of, aspire to, and embody Beauty, Truth, and Goodness in our lives without the sophistic soul-corroding irony of the past decades, and with the confidence and wisdom of Plato, Krishna, and all such predecessors everywhere in all cultures in renewed dialogues for the 21st century.
Neither redeemer nor prophet in the adolescent paradigm of “I will fight for you”, but in deep listening eloquence an expression and reflection of “Out of the Many We Are One”.
Next week, on Program 72, my guest will be Deborah Tannen, widely-acclaimed author of the landmark New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation, in conversation with me about how we can transform our Argument Culture into one of evolutionary dialogue. “I have done many interviews, but this was very special. A privilege.” – Deborah Tannen
For a summary of the practical proposed solutions I have made in this time of required change, you can see my additional website www.newenergycentury.com or contact me at www.livingdialogues.com. Visit my blog at Duncan.personallifemedia.com.
Ways in which we can all contribute our own new energy and ideas in this emerging paradigm shift are outlined in the dialogue with myself and Barbara Marx Hubbard re Citizen Solutions in Program 69.
After you listen to this Dialogue, I invite you to both explore and make possible further interesting material on Living Dialogues by taking less than 5 minutes to click on and fill out the Listener Survey.
“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, I have featured a special series of dialogues on this site with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. election season. These dialogues address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In my preceding dialogues I have talked in various ways about the need to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative solutions together, to engage our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
Other programs you will find of immediate interest on these themes are the Dialogues Programs 35-36 with Paul Hawken regarding the emergence of collaborative citizen movements worldwide, Program 37 with sociologist Paul Ray on the creation of a new wisdom culture and political paradigm, Program 58 with Ted Sorensen, counselor to John F. Kennedy, Program 59 with Robert Thurman on the Dalai Lama and China, and Program 61 with David Boren on the need for new energy and transpartisanship. Also of directly related interest in terms of the founding and traditions of the U.S. during its tipping point 2008 election, how I see Barack in the unifying lineage of Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and RFK, and its implications for global shifts, are my dialogues with historian Joseph Ellis, honored as “the Founders’ historian” by The New York Review of Books (see Programs 38 and 39).
SUBSCRIBE HERE FOR FREE TO LIVING DIALOGUES AND IN THE COMING WEEKS HEAR DUNCAN CAMPELL’S DIALOGUES WITH OTHER GROUND-BREAKING TRANSFORMATIONAL THINKERS LISTED ON THE WEBSITE WWW.LIVINGDIALOGUES.COM. TO LISTEN TO PREVIOUS RELATED DIALOGUES ON THIS SITE, SCROLL DOWN ON THE LIVING DIALOGUES SHOW PAGE HERE -- OR CLICK ON THE NAME OF A GUEST ON THE LIST AT THE RIGHT -- TO HEAR DUNCAN’S DIALOGUES WITH DR. ANDREW WEIL, BRIAN WEISS, COLEMAN BARKS, RUPERT SHELDRAKE, LARRY DOSSEY, JUDY COLLINS, MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, MATTHEW FOX, JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE, DEEPAK CHOPRA, BYRON KATIE AND STEPHEN MITCHELL, CAROLINE MYSS, GANGAJI, VINE DELORIA, JR., MICHAEL DOWD (THE UNIVERSE STORY OF THOMAS BERRY AND BRIAN SWIMME), STEVE MCINTOSH, FRANCES MOORE LAPPE, STANISLAV GROF, RICHARD TARNAS, MARC BEKOFF AND JANE GOODALL, RICHARD MOSS, PAUL HAWKEN, PAUL RAY, JOSEPH ELLIS, DUANE ELGIN, LYNNE MCTAGGART, ECKHART TOLLE, MICHAEL MEADE, ANGELES ARRIEN, SOBONFU SOME. TED SORENSEN, ROBERT THURMAN, DAVID MARANISS, DAVID BOREN, GEORGE LAKOFF, TOM HAYDEN, JAY INSLEE, BRACKEN HENDRICKS, BOB GOUGH, VAN JONES, BARBARA MARX HUBBARD, LESTER BROWN, AND OTHER EVOLUTIONARY THINKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the numerous appreciations received from you.
Introduction: From time in memorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of Western visionaries such as Plato, Gallileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a dioph flow of logos meaning beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now, as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in, living dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome. I'm your host Duncan Campbell, and with me for this particular program, I'm truly delighted to have as my guest David Mendell, author of the very fine biography "Obama, from Promise to Power." David Mendell has been a long time reporter and political journalist for the Chicago Tribune and was given really, we might say very intimate access in the lingo of politics, to Barrack Obama. And that's because he started out covering Barrack Obama when he was a total unknown and had the opportunity to spend countless hours alone with Barrack Obama and in his early campaigns there were entire days at a time when only Barrack and David Mendell would be driving around Chicago on the campaign trail. He also had unlimited access to all of Barrack Obama's personal family and many of his friends when he grew up in Hawaii and elsewhere. David took the time to go the places that are figuring in Barrack Obama's biography, and so for maybe six to seven years really was the primary person from the media that really spent a tremendous amount of time with Barrack Obama before he suddenly burst on the scene in 2004 when Barrack gave his speech at the Democratic National Convention four years ago. So David, what a real pleasure it is to have you here on the program.
David Mendel: Well it's a pleasure to be here, Duncan.
Duncan Campbell: In a prior conversation that you and I had before the program, I told you that I had discovered your book quite by accident. I happened to be at a small meeting in Los Angeles in early December of 2007, where I met Barrack Obama for the first time. And, on the way back home, I was at the Burlingame Airport and happened to notice your biography; I didn't even know such a biography existed because all the attention had of course been given to the two autobiographies that Barrack himself had written: "Dreams of my Father" and then "The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream". And so I was delighted, I immediately started reading it and I have to say it is truly a fine piece of work. It is extremely readable, it's packed with really, tremendously interesting information and experiences that the two of you had together and most importantly, your job I think as a trained political reporter and journalist in going to the places which figured so prominently in Barrack's very unusual upbringing as really, a world citizen, was tremendously informative about the man that very much fits the zeitgeist of our times in the twenty-first century where we're really called all of us to be, in my view and the view of many, global citizens and we have for the first time in American history a real, global cosmopolitan candidate who is not putting on air as much as the opposition would like to have us believe but who actually grew up all over the world in different cultures and having done so myself, I know what a profoundly educative experience that is and how it really does give you a sensibility for the international world that we now live in. And so what I'd really like to share with our listeners today is the really enlightening and very pleasurable experience I had in reading your excellent biography. Biographies tend to fall in to, you know, two spectrums: One are the so called hagiographies, where they worship the subject and fond over the subject and so on, which you certainly did not do. On the other hand, you have the attack biographies that are coming out now from the Republican side during the campaign which skew and distort things that happened and many times, didn't happen, in the person's life in a very negative way. And you were very, we might say, even handed and most importantly, I felt reading the book that I was there. You had a beautiful gift of describing your experiences in a way where we felt we were seeing it and experiencing it as you did, and I thought it was extremely fair and I haven't read or seen anything else that's come out in the subsequent period of time since I read your book last December that has in any way contradicted anything that's in your book or added any real new information. And so, to that introduction David, I'd like you to perhaps just tell us how this came about and kind of set the stage and maybe tell a story to share to begin with.
David Mendel: Well thank you for that introduction Duncan. I need to bring you along on all my book tours. Well I came, I came, to know Barrack Obama through a very fortuitous circumstance that I didn't see was going to be so fortuitous at the time, but I was working for the Chicago Tribune as a political reporter and I was assigned to cover the 2004 Democratic primary for the Democrats, or for the Tribune. And of course we know who was victorious in that Democratic primary. But at the time, there were five candidates who were viable in that race and none of them were household names here in Illinois, and the U.S. Senate Race is not necessarily the highest profile race here in Chicago or Illinois; the mayor of Chicago of the governor's race are very high profile. And so I was a little bit disgruntled that I had been assigned to a race that I didn't think was going to generate a whole lot of real estate in the newspaper, and lo and behold I wound up getting to know this fellow Barrack Obama so well and as the race unfolded as that year unfolded I could see that, you know, this guy was going places that, especially after that speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. But, I was fortunate enough to you know, be in on the stock before the rest of the investors knew that it was a good stock to pick. He, I was afforded an enormous amount of access because it was, you know, many times it was just, it was just he and I and his driver in the campaign vehicle as I'm watching this, you know, young politician try to make a name for himself and he certainly did. And so, it was, it was quite the experience you know, I got to know him and his wife Michelle and his, a lot of his aides, some of whom are still with him and some who are not and I sort of saw the, you know, the caravan being loaded in and so that was, I was in a very good spot. And so I spent the next three years, or two years, after that researching his life and I travelled to Hawaii and interviewed his family on his mother's side there, I travelled on one of his congressional delegations to Africa to meet his family there and see how that country, you know, received him almost as a deity and I think I have a lot of personal insights in the book from my, from my own observations as well as from family members and people in, who have met him throughout his life and influential in his life: from Reverend Wright, I interviewed him, Reverend Jeremiah Wright for quite some time a couple of hours and then his wife for oh, I can't even count how many interviews I had with his wife and his, his early community organizing experience here in Chicago, those folks played, especially throwing in Jerry Kellman, played an influential role in his life. So, I try to hit on all the key people who had, who'd either had some influence on him or who knew him very well and fortunately, you know, I was there early on and got the cooperation of him and his staff to allow me to, you know, put him under the microscope like this.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell