I was on tour with the American Shakespeare Center in 2004, and we were performing in a suburb of Chicago. During our stay in the area, we were hosted at a party by someone associated with the college at which we were performing. In their foyer was a local alternative weekly that trumpeted on its cover the would-be political star that was then-State Senator Barack Obama. I don’t remember for sure, but I suspect it was when he was merely a contender for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. In the picture, he was smiling his trademark toothy ear-to-ear grin, being chummy with some other local pol. The headline, which I also forget, implied there was some momentum behind this up-and-comer who sought to become the next Senator from Illinois.
I had no idea, really, who Obama was, though I think I had heard his name once or twice before. At that moment, however, I remember very clearly thinking, There’s no way this guy goes anywhere beyond local politics. Why? Because his last name was one letter away from “Osama.” Dealbreaker. Maybe in another decade, Barack.
Now that guy, Obama, is president and is responsible for killing that other guy, Osama. Shows what I know.