At a party in 2003, Obama was mistaken for a waiter

At a party in 2003, Obama was mistaken for a waiter

On a warm weekday evening in 2003, a group that can fairly be described as representative of the media elite gathered at one if its favored venues: the garden behind the Manhattan apartment of journalists Tina Brown and Harold Evans.

The occasion was the publication of “The Clinton Wars,” by Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton. Editors from the New Yorker and the New York Times were in attendance along with media figures like Steven Brill and Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner. The guests mingled and sipped wine. Even Clinton showed up, instantly becoming the epicenter of attention….

Standing by myself I noticed, on the periphery of the party, a man looking as awkward and out-of-place as I felt. I approached him and introduced myself. He was an Illinois state senator who was running for the U.S. Senate. He was African American, one of a few black people in attendance.

We spoke at length about his campaign. He was charismatic in a quiet, solemn way. I told him I wanted to pitch a profile of him to a national magazine. (The magazine later rejected my proposal.)

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