The political socialisation of Barack Obama

I recently finished Race of a Lifetime, purchased because I confused it with this book that I’d actually intended to buy… it’s a great read in many respects. I love reading politics books like this because of the snippets of insight they can offer into the processes by which politicians are socialised (and socialise themselves) into leadership:

As McCain bumbled publicly, Obama was privately conducting for himself what amounted to an on-the-fly series of postgraduate seminars, holding lengthy conference calls night and day with his party’s brainiest economic savants. Many of the people to whom Obama turned were Clinton veterans: former treasury secretaries Bob Rubin and Larry Summers, former Council of Economic Advisers chief Laura Tyson. Obama also turned to Clinton himself, calling the former president several times, soliciting his advice, impressing him (for the first time, really) with his approach to the crisis. Obama was talking regularly with Fed chair Ben Bernanke and daily, sometimes more often, with Paulson. The treasury secretary was astonished by the candidate’s level of engagement. On one occasion, Obama kept his plane on the tarmac for a half hour after the final event of his day, with a long flight ahead of him, so he could finish a conversation with Paulson. On another, Obama called Paulson late at night at home and spent two hours discussing the intricate details of regulatory reform. As much as the substantiveness of the discussions struck Paulson, so did their sobriety and maturity. I’ll be there publicly for you at any time, Obama told him. I’m going to be president, and I don’t want to inherit a financial system that’s collapsed

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