The path to power
the path to power
Barack Obama lays down a grand challenge to his own party—and it may get him elected president one day. By Jacob Weisberg
Early last summer, Barack Obama, the 45-year-old junior senator from Illinois, took the pulpit at the National City Christian Church in downtown Washington, D.C., to make the most important speech delivered by a Democrat since—well, since his keynote at the Democratic Convention in 2004. That earlier address, which set the political world spinning in Obama's direction, drew quietly on the religious imagery of "things not seen." This one confronted the problem of faith and politics directly. Looking out among the Sojourners assembly, a group that aspires to be a liberal answer to the Christian coalition, Obama began by recalling a moment in his 2004 Senate campaign. His Republican opponent—the blistering, possibly deranged conservative orator Alan Keyes—declared one day (and here Obama channeled Keyes's ranting staccato) that "Jesus Christ would not vote for Ba-rack O-bama!"