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Editor's Note: In our Big Interview tonight, Anderson talks to David Remnick about his book, 'The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.' Read an excerpt below.
The Joshua Generation
This is how it began, the telling of a story that changed America.
At midday on March 4, 2007, Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was scheduled to speak at Brown Chapel, in Selma, Alabama. His campaign for President was barely a month old, and he had come South prepared to confront, for the first time, the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. He planned to discuss in public what so many believed would ultimately be his undoing—his race, his youth, his “exotic” background. “Who is Barack Obama?” Barack Hussein Obama? From now until Election Day, his opponents, Democratic and Republican, would ask the question on public platforms, in television and radio commercials, often insinuating a disqualifying otherness about the man: his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia; his Kenyan father; his Kansas- born, yet cosmopolitan, mother.
Obama’s answer to that question helped form the language and distinctiveness of his campaign. Two years out of the Illinois State Senate and barely free of his college loans, Obama entered the Presidential race with a serious, yet unexceptional, set of center- left policy positions. They were not radically different from Clinton’s, save on the crucial question of the Iraq war. Nor did he possess an impressive résumé of executive experience or legislative accomplishment. But who Obama was, where he came from, how he came to understand himself, and, ultimately, how he managed to project his own temperament and personality as a reflection of American ambitions and hopes would be at the center of his rhetoric and appeal. In addition to his political views, what Obama proposed as the core of his candidacy was a self—a complex, cautious, intelligent, shrewd, young African-American man. He was not a great man yet by any means, but he was the promise of greatness. There, in large measure, was the wellspring of his candidacy, its historical dimension and conceit, and there was no escaping its gall. Obama himself used words like “presumptuous” and “audacious.”
Program Note: Don't miss Anderson's conversation with Michael Lewis tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Chapter One: A Secret Origin Story
Eisman entered finance about the time I exited it. He’d grown up in New York City, gone to yeshiva schools, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania magna cum laude, and then with honors from Harvard Law School. In 1991 he was a thirty-year-old corporate lawyer wondering why he ever thought he’d enjoy being a lawyer. “I hated it,” he says. “I hated being a lawyer. My parents worked as brokers at Oppenheimer securities. They managed to finagle me a job. It’s not pretty but that’s what happened.”
Oppenheimer was among the last of the old-fashioned Wall Street partnerships and survived on the scraps left behind by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. It felt less like a corporation than a family business. Lillian and Elliot Eisman had been giving financial advice to individual investors on behalf of Oppenheimer since the early 1960s. (Lillian had created their brokerage business inside of Oppenheimer, and Elliot, who had started out as a criminal attorney, had joined her after being spooked once too often by midlevel Mafia clients.) Beloved and respected by colleagues and clients alike, they could hire whomever they pleased. Before rescuing their son from his legal career they’d installed his old nanny on the Oppenheimer trading floor. On his way to reporting to his mother and father, Eisman passed the woman who had once changed his diapers. Oppenheimer had a nepotism rule, however; if Lillian and Elliot wanted to hire their son, they had to pay his salary for the first year, while others determined if he was worth paying at all.
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Special to CNN
On January 27, 2010, as our attention was distracted by the news of horrors from Haiti to Iraq, the quiet passing of two giant Americans in a single day was barely noticed around the globe. J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) and Howard Zinn (1922-2010) passed away at the ages of 91 and 87, respectively.
It was not just in the United States that Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye," his signature novel, became the cultic rite of passage for an entire generation. "Catcher" was published in 1951, the year of my birth in southern Iran, and soon after its Persian translation it became a definitive literary experience for high school and college students of the late period of the Pahlavi family's rule over Iran.
While Russian literature was a major staple of the Iranian literary scene since the early 20th century, it was not until the aftermath of World War II that an interest in American writers took hold.
For actress Jane Alexander, the criticism of a $50 million boost in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts is a sequel.
She was chairman of the agency from 1993 through 1997 when arts funding was cut sharply by the Republican-led Congress, which questioned whether it was an appropriate way to use government money.
Now the issue is whether giving money to the arts should have been part of the economic stimulus program. Among those who have criticized the new spending this year is Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama's message to Congress Tuesday.
On Monday's "Larry King Live," Jindal said, "Fundamentally, I don't think $30 million for the federal government to buy new cars, $1 billion for the Census, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts is going to get the economy moving again as quickly as allowing the private sector to create jobs."
It's no surprise that Alexander disagrees and argues that arts spending can give a vital boost to the economy. The actress, who will appear later this month in a new comedy at the New York theater company Primary Stages called "Chasing Manet," won a Tony Award for her role in the "The Great White Hope." She has been nominated eight times for an Emmy and four times for an Oscar for films including, "All the President's Men" and "Kramer vs. Kramer."