As I followed the 2008 presidential election campaign in America, I realized that the campaigns are in-part also a big battle of egos. Each candidate not only believes that his/her position on the issues is the right choice, the right direction for the country; but also that they are the right person to lead the country in that direction. In one way this is a highly egotistical claim which each presidential candidate is trying to convince everyone else of. Almost two years of constant campaigning to this end must inevitably be a transforming experience, changing the person completely.
Now that the campaign is over, the candidates have to face the results. In the case of John McCain, he has to face his defeat in a bitterly fought contest and its effect on his party and his own political career. In the case of Barack Obama, he now has to face the immense responsibility of leading this country in times of immense difficulties both at home and abroad. John McCain and Barack Obama are in a way completely different people from what they were a couple of years ago. In the backdrop of these facts, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at these candidates as they were before they got wrapped up in their respective campaigns.
Starting with John McCain: I have said that I used to like John McCain. From what I recall, he really was kind of 'straight talking', right of the center guy who was not afraid to spar with people in his own party on important issues. Here are some clips of Jon Stewart interviewing John McCain. The first one is back in 2002 before the Iraq war started. The second one is just after the state of the union speech in January 2004. What I like about John McCain in these clips is his candidness. He speaks his mind and he doesn't try to spin much. This is the John McCain I would have liked to see more of on the campaign trail.
Like most other people, I had not heard much about Barack Obama until he gave the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. Back in August 2005, Barack Obama made an appearance as the guest who plays 'not my job' game on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the NPR news quiz - one of my favorite radio shows. He talked about his views on important issues such as 8th grade graduation ceremonies. As I listened to the show again today, I couldn't help but think that this guy has a great sense of humor and is very witty. You can listen to the clip here.
This other clip is of Barack Obama on Monday night football back in 2006 where it seems like he is about to announce that he is running for president:
I guess we won't get to see this lighter, funnier side of Barack Obama more often now.