President Bush, meet Barack Obama

Published July 14, 2004 7:41PM (EDT)

Barack Obama, the 42-year-old Illinois state senator and civil rights attorney, will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic convention. Scott Turow wrote a profile of Obama in Salon, calling the son of a Kenyan economist "the new face of the Democratic party." Obama was a formidable candidate for the Senate seat in Illinois even before his GOP opponent Jack Ryan crashed and burned over unsavory details contained in his unsealed divorce records showing he pressured his wife to have public sex. Now, Illinois Republicans are trying anything to catch Obama, including possibly trotting out Mike Ditka as Illinois' response to celeb-turned politicians like Jesse the Body and Ahnold.

In his recent profile of Obama in the New Yorker, William Finnegan describes a story about Rep. Jan Schakowsky's visit to the White House with a congressional delegation. "On her way out, she said, President Bush noticed her 'OBAMA' button. 'He jumped back, almost literally,' she said. 'And I knew what he was thinking. So I reassured him it was Obama, with a 'b.' And I explained who he was. The President said, 'Well, I don't know him.' So I just said, 'You will.'" Indeed, Obama's keynote moment will be a first look for many who haven't been paying attention to this rising star -- but should be.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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