Barack Obama is not merely the first black presumptive presidential nominee of a major party—he's also only 46, having entered the Illinois state Senate just 11 years ago. He's also a brilliant, imperfect, unstoppably ambitious man with an astounding ability to remain calm throughout a manic campaign, writes the New York Times.
From the streets of Chicago to the hallways of the Senate, Obama has earned a reputation as a close listener, gathering advice and gaining influence. As his star rose he taught himself poker (successfully) and golf (less so) to gain further access to the corridors of power. Now at the top of the Democratic Party, Obama has kept his cool—"a strikingly laid-back victor" of a historic race.