Difference between revisions of "Barack Obama"

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Obama Sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This act allowed for greater transparency in government at the federal level and also established the website [[usaspending.gov]] a resource on federal spending.
Obama Sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This act allowed for greater transparency in government at the federal level and also established the website [[usaspending.gov]] a resource on federal spending.

Revision as of 17:33, 2 February 2010

Barack Hussein Obama Jr.
August 4, 1961
Barack Obama.jpg
President of the United States
Assumed office
January 20, 2009
United States Senator
In office
January 3, 2005 – November 16, 2008
Preceded byGeorge Bush
Succeeded byTBD
Political partyDemocrat
WebsiteBarack Obama.com
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (born August 4, 1961) was elected president of the United States in 2008. He was sworn in January of 2009. Previously, he served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois and was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election. He is the first African American to win enough support for the nomination of any major American political party and will serve as the first African American president in the United States.

Born to a Kenyan father and an American mother, he spent most of his childhood and adolescent years in Honolulu, Hawaii. At age six, he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he lived with his mother and Indonesian stepfather for four years. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, university professor,[1] political activist, and lawyer before serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004.[1]

Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in January 2003. After winning a landslide primary victory in March 2004 to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.

As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he cosponsored legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the current 110th Congress, he has sponsored legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Since announcing his presidential campaign in February 2007, Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq war, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care as top national priorities.

Early life

Obama was born on August 4 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr., of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham, of Wichita, Kansas who was largely descended from pre-revolutionary British settlers to the United States, although she did have a great great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney who emigrated from Ireland in the mid 19th century.[2][3] His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student.[4] They separated when he was two years old and later divorced.[5] After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Soetoro's home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was ten years old.[3] He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979.[6] Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years.[7] He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.[8]

Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group before moving to Chicago in 1985 to take a job as a community organizer.[9][10] He entered Harvard Law School in 1988.[11] His election in 1990 as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review was widely reported.[12] Obama graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, then returned to Chicago where he headed a voter registration drive and began writing his first book, Dreams from My Father, a memoir published in 1995.[13]

Between 1993 and 2002, Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a philanthropic organization providing grants to Chicago's disadvantaged people and communities.[14]

Obama taught constitutional law part-time at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.[15]

Obama worked as an associate attorney with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 2002. After 1996, he worked at the firm only during the summer, when the Illinois Senate was not in session.[16] Obama worked on cases where the firm represented community organizers, pursued discrimination claims, and on voting rights cases. He also spent time on real estate transactions, filing incorporation papers and defending clients against minor lawsuits.[17] Mostly he drew up briefs, contracts, and other legal documents as a junior associate on legal teams.[17] Obama also did some work on taxpayer-supported building rehabilitation loans for Rezmar Corp.[18] which is co-owned by his long-time political supporter Tony Rezko.

State legislature

Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from the 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn.[19] Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws.[20] He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare.[21] In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures,[22] and in 2003, Obama sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations.[21][23]

Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, and again in 2002.[24] In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.[25][26]

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority.[27] During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms.[28] Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the US Senate.[29]

U.S. Senate campaign

In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate, enlisting political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announcing his candidacy in January 2003.[30] Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates.[31] Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois.[32] He received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary, emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival.[33]

Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004.[34] In August 2004, with less than three months to go before election day, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan.[35] A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination.[36] Through three televised debates, Obama and Keyes expressed opposing views on stem cell research, abortion, gun control, school vouchers, and tax cuts.[37] In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.[38]

In July 2004, he wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.[39] After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama spoke about changing the U.S. government's economic and social priorities. He questioned the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War and highlighted America's obligations to its soldiers. Drawing examples from U.S. history, he criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity in diversity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."[40] Broadcasts of the speech by major news organizations launched Obama's status as a national political figure and boosted his campaign for U.S. Senate.[41]

U.S. Senate career

Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4 2005.[42] Though a newcomer to Washington, he recruited a team of established, high-level advisers devoted to broad themes that exceeded the usual requirements of an incoming first-term senator.[43] He hired Pete Rouse, a 30-year veteran of national politics and former chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, as his chief of staff, and economist Karen Kornbluh, former deputy chief of staff to Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, as his policy director.[44] He recruited Samantha Power, author on human rights and genocide, and former Clinton administration officials Anthony Lake and Susan Rice as foreign policy advisers.[45]

The Senate historian lists Obama as the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history, and the third to have been popularly elected.[46] He is the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.[47] CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007, and the National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007.[48][49] Asked about the Journal's characterization of his voting record, Obama expressed doubts about the survey's methodology, blaming "old politics" labeling of political positions as "conservative" or "liberal" for creating predispositions that prevent problem-solving.[50]


Consistent with his interests in conservation, Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Obama took an active role in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform. In 2005, he cosponsored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" introduced by Republican John McCain of Arizona.[51] He later added three amendments to the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act", which passed the Senate in May 2006, but failed to gain majority support in the House of Representatives.[52] In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act, authorizing construction of fencing and other security improvements along the United States–Mexico border.[53] President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law in October 2006, calling it "an important step toward immigration reform."[54]

Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Obama discussing the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act[55]

Partnering with Republican Senators Richard Lugar of Indiana and then Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Obama successfully introduced two initiatives bearing his name. "Lugar–Obama" expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines.[56] The "Coburn–Obama Transparency Act" authorized the establishment of USAspending.gov, a web search engine launched in December 2007 and run by the Office of Management and Budget.[57] After Illinois residents complained of waste water contamination by a neighboring nuclear plant, Obama sponsored legislation requiring plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks.[58] A compromise version of the bill was subsequently blocked by partisan disputes and later reintroduced.[59] In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act," marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.[60]

In January 2007, Obama worked with Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," which was signed into law in September 2007.[61] He introduced S. 453, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections, including fraudulent flyers and automated phone calls, as witnessed in the 2006 midterm elections.[62] Obama's energy initiatives scored pluses and minuses with environmentalists, who welcomed his sponsorship with McCain of a climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050, but were skeptical of his support for a bill promoting liquefied coal production.[63] Obama also introduced the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007," a bill to cap troop levels in Iraq, begin phased redeployment, and remove all combat brigades from Iraq before April 2008.[64]

Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges, and calling for an official review following reports that the procedure had been used inappropriately to reduce government costs.[65] He sponsored the "Iran Sanctions Enabling Act" supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, and joined Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska in introducing legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism.[66][67] A provision from the Obama–Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.[67] Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.[68]


Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006.[69] In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.[70] He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs.[71]

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama has made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In August 2005, he traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. The trip focused on strategies to control the world's supply of conventional weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction as a first defense against terrorist attacks.[72] Following meetings with U.S. military in Kuwait and Iraq in January 2006, he visited Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. At a meeting with Palestinian students two weeks before Hamas won the legislative election, Obama warned that "the U.S. will never recognize winning Hamas candidates unless the group renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel."[73] He left for his third official trip in August 2006, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. In a speech at the University of Nairobi, he spoke about political corruption and ethnic rivalries.[74] The speech touched off controversy among Kenyan leaders, some formally challenging Obama's remarks as unfair and improper, others defending his positions.[75]

Presidential campaign

In February 2007, standing before the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[76] Describing his working life in Illinois, and symbolically linking his presidential campaign to Abraham Lincoln's 1858 House Divided speech, Obama said: "That is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America."[77] Speaking at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) meeting one week before the February announcement, Obama called for putting an end to negative campaigning.[78] Since announcing his presidential campaign Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care as his top three priorities.[79]

Obama before making a speech in Washington, D.C.

Obama's campaign raised $58 million during the first half of 2007, topping all other candidates and exceeding previous records for the first six months of any year before an election year.[80] Small donors, those contributing in increments of less than $200, accounted for $16.4 million of Obama's record-breaking total, more than any other Democratic candidate.[81] In the first month of 2008, his campaign brought in $36.8 million, the most ever raised in one month by a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries.[82]

Obama was placed under Secret Service protection on May 3, 2007, the earliest ever for a U.S. presidential candidate.[83] With two months remaining before the first electoral contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, and national opinion polls showing him trailing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama began directly charging his top rival with failing to clearly state her political positions.[84] Campaigning in Iowa, he told The Washington Post that as the Democratic nominee he would draw more support than Clinton from independent and Republican voters in the general election.[85]

Among the first four DNC-sanctioned state contests, Obama won more delegates than Clinton in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina while winning an equal number in New Hampshire. On Super Tuesday, he emerged with 20 more delegates than Clinton.[86] He broke fundraising records in the first two months of 2008, raising over $90 million for his primary campaign while Clinton raised $45 million in the same period.[87] After Super Tuesday, Obama won the eleven remaining February primaries and caucuses.[88] Obama and Clinton split delegates and states nearly equally in Vermont, Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island.[89]

In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's 23-year relationship to his former pastor Jeremiah Wright.[90] After ABC News broadcast racially and politically charged clips from sermons by Rev. Wright,[90][91] Obama responded by condemning Wright's remarks and ending Wright's relationship with the campaign.[92] Obama delivered a speech, during the controversy, entitled "A More Perfect Union"[93] that addressed issues of race. After Wright reiterated some of his remarks in a speech at the National Press Club,[94] Obama strongly denounced Wright, who he said "[presented] a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for."[95] Obama's association with Bill Ayers was also questioned in an ABC debate. Ayers, whose radical activism had taken the form of planting bombs in the early 1970's,[96] hosted the announcement of Obama's 1996 State Senate campaign and had joined the board of the Woods Foundation, where Obama was already a member, in 1999.[14][97] On May 31, 2008 Barack Obama resigned from the Chicago Trinity Church in a further public speech, Obama said he made the decision after racially charged comments by visiting Catholic priest Michael Pfleger were made towards Hillary Clinton.[98]

Obama lost six out of the next nine contests. During April and May 2008 Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon held primaries. Obama won North Carolina and Oregon, and Clinton won the rest, with an aggregate result of Obama remaining ahead in pledged delegates after these contests; during the same period, Obama received endorsements from more superdelegates than did Clinton.[99] On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat half of the Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, narrowing the delegate gap between Clinton and Obama, and increasing the number of delegates needed to win the nomination; but Obama retained a lead even after Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary on June 1.[100] On June 3, Clinton won the South Dakota primary while Obama won Montana.[101][102] On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the 2118 delegate mark and became the Democratic presumptive nominee.[103] Obama is the first African American to be the presumptive nominee of a major political party,[104] and the first to be born in Hawaii.[105]

In his victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, Obama said: "After 54 hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end. Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America." Paying tribute to his rival Hillary Clinton, he said she had made him a "better candidate". He congratulated her on the race she had run "throughout this contest" and also praised former president Bill Clinton's economic policies. In her own speech in New York, Clinton showed no sign of suspending her presidential campaign. She told cheering supporters: "Now the question is, 'Where do we go from here?' And given how far we've come, and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight." Earlier, she had signaled her interest in joining Obama's ticket as a potential vice-president.[106]

Political positions

Template:See also On the role of government in economic affairs, Obama has written: "We should be asking ourselves what mix of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation and upward mobility [...] we should be guided by what works."[107] Speaking before the National Press Club in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with social Darwinism.[108] In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor.[109] Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama told the health care advocacy group Families USA that he supports universal healthcare in the United States.[110]

Obama speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina[111]

Campaigning in New Hampshire, Obama announced an $18 billion plan for investments in early childhood education, math and science education, and expanded summer learning opportunities.[112] Obama's campaign distinguished his proposals to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process.[113]

At the Tax Policy Center in September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code.[114] His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut,[115] close corporate tax loopholes, lift the $102,000 cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS.[116] Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a 10 year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil.[117] Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.[118]

Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq.[119] On October 2, 2002, the day President Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War,[120] Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza,[121] speaking out against it.[122]

On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq,[123] Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd "It's not too late" to stop the war.[124]

Obama sought to make his early public opposition to the Iraq War before it started a major issue in his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign to distinguish himself from his Democratic primary rivals who supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War,[125] and in his 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign, to distinguish himself from four Democratic primary rivals who voted for the resolution authorizing the war (Senators Clinton, Edwards, Biden, and Dodd).[126]

Obama taking questions from a crowd in New Hampshire

Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran.[127] In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although not ruling out military action.[128] Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions.[129][130][131] Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.[132]

In a December 2005 Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.[133] He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran.[134] In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example."[135]

Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups.[136] In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren.[137] Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier.[138] He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it.[139] Before the conference, 18 pro-life groups published an open letter stating, in reference to Obama's support for legal abortion: "In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren's decision to ignore Senator Obama's clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway."[140] Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us."[141]

Obama made several statements in a campaign video released in October, 2007 related to defense spending and nuclear weapons. In addition to promising to end the war in Iraq, Obama stated that he will enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars. He stated that he will stop investing in missile defense systems, that he will not weaponize space, that he will "slow development of future combat systems," and that he would work towards a world without nuclear weapons. To achieve this goal, Obama wishes to end development of new nuclear weapons, to reduce the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, to enact a global ban on production of fissile material, and to seek negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.[142]

Personal life

Obama grew up with his half-sister Maya Kassandra Soetoro, the daughter his mother had with her second husband. Obama also has seven other half-siblings; his father had six other sons and one daughter.[143]

Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin.[144] Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date.[145] They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992.[146] The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.[147]

Applying the proceeds of a $2 million book deal, the family paid off debts in 2005 and moved from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to their current $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood.[148] The land adjacent to their house was simultaneously sold to the wife of developer and Obama supporter, Tony Rezko. This deal provoked media scrutiny of Obama's relationship with Rezko, who was indicted in October 2006 for fraud and extortion.[149] In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million.[150] Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million, up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005, mostly from sales of his books.[151]

Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team.[152] Before announcing his presidential candidacy, he began a well-publicized effort to quit smoking. "I've never been a heavy smoker," Obama told the Chicago Tribune. "I've quit periodically over the last several years. I've got an ironclad demand from my wife that in the stresses of the campaign I do not succumb. I've been chewing Nicorette strenuously."[153] Replying to an Associated Press survey of 2008 presidential candidates' personal tastes, he specified "architect" as his alternate career choice and "chili" as his favorite meal to cook.[154] Asked to name a "hidden talent," Obama answered: "I'm a pretty good poker player."[155]

In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents, as detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his Kenyan father as "raised a Muslim," but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." In the book, Obama explains how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."[156]


Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was published before his first run for political office. In it he recalls his childhood in Honolulu and Jakarta, college years in Los Angeles and New York City, and his employment as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. The book's last few chapters describe his first visit to Kenya, a journey to connect with his Luo family and heritage. In the preface to the 2004 revised edition, Obama explains that he had hoped the story of his family "might speak in some way to the fissures of race that have characterized the American experience."[157] In a 1995 review, novelist Paul Watkins wrote that Dreams "persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither."[158] The audiobook edition earned Obama the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album of 2006.[159]

His second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, was published in October 2006 and soon rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller hardcover list.[160] Its title came from a sermon delivered by Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. The paperback edition currently ranks fourth on The New York Times nonfiction list.[161] The Chicago Tribune credits large crowds that gathered at book signings with influencing Obama's decision to run for president.[162] Former U.S. presidential candidate Gary Hart said the book's self-portrayal presents "a man of relative youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing skills that have flashes of grandeur."[163] Reviewer Michael Tomasky writes that it does not contain "boldly innovative policy prescriptions that will lead the Democrats out of their wilderness," but does show Obama's potential to "construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions that speak to a wider range of Americans."[164] In February 2008, he won a Grammy award for the spoken word edition of Audacity.[159] Foreign language editions of the book have been published in Italian, Spanish, German, French, Danish and Greek.[165] The Italian edition was published in April 2007 with a preface by Walter Veltroni,[166] former Mayor of Rome, currently leader of Italy's Democratic Party and one of Obama's earliest supporters overseas.[167]

Barack Obama is reportedly writing a children's book.[168]

Cultural and political image

Supporters and critics have likened Obama's popular image to a cultural Rorschach test, a neutral persona on whom people can project their personal histories and aspirations.[169] Obama's own stories about his family origins reinforce what a May 2004 New Yorker magazine article described as his "everyman" image.[170] In Dreams from My Father, he ties his maternal family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.[171] Speaking to Jewish audiences during his 2004 campaign for U.S. Senate, he linked the linguistic root of his East African first name Barack to the Hebrew word baruch, meaning "blessed."[172] In an October 2006 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher. We've got it all."[173]

With Tribal Chairman Carl Venne at Crow Indian Reservation in Montana in 2008.

With his Kenyan father and American mother, his upbringing in Honolulu and Jakarta, and his Ivy League education, Obama's early life experiences differ markedly from those of African American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement.[174] In January 2007, The End of Blackness author Debra Dickerson warned against drawing favorable cultural implications from Obama's political rise: "Lumping us all together," Dickerson wrote in Salon, "erases the significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance of progress."[175] Film critic David Ehrenstein, writing in a March 2007 Los Angeles Times article, compared the cultural sources of Obama's favorable polling among whites to those of "magical Negro" roles played by black actors in Hollywood movies.[176] Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is "black enough," Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists that the debate is not about his physical appearance or his record on issues of concern to black voters. Obama said, "we're still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong."[177]

Writing about Obama's political image in a March 2007 Washington Post opinion column, Eugene Robinson characterized him as "the personification of both-and," a messenger who rejects "either-or" political choices, and could "move the nation beyond the culture wars" of the 1960s.[178] Obama, who defines himself in The Audacity of Hope as "a Democrat, after all," has been criticized by progressive commentator David Sirota for demonstrating too much "Senate clubbiness", and was encouraged to run for the U.S. presidency by conservative columnist George Will.[179] But in a December 2006 Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "The Man from Nowhere," Ronald Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan advised Will and other "establishment" commentators to avoid becoming too quickly excited about Obama's still early political career.[180] Echoing the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, Obama acknowledged his youthful image, saying in an October 2007 campaign speech, "I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation."[181]


Main article: Barack Obama transparency on Sunshine Review

Obama Sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This act allowed for greater transparency in government at the federal level and also established the website usaspending.gov a resource on federal spending.

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

On Oct. 5, 2009, Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook of the LA Times disclosed that although Obama has reduced his vocal support of a government-run health insurance plan, he has strategically launched a "beind-the-scenes campaign" to garner support for the public option.[182]

Senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily with senior Democratic staff including Obama's top healthcare advisor, Nancy-Ann DeParle; aides to Reid; and staff from the Senate Finance and Health committees. Discussions have focused on how to ensure a version of the public plan lands itself into Senate Majority Leader Reid's bill.

In addition, Obama has telephoned more than a dozen rank-and-file Senate Democrats within the last week to pressure them to support his plan. He has met in private with Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Obama even pulled aside some PA Democrats who were visiting the White House to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup win and pressured them to support the public option.


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  120. Glauber, Bill (October 3 2002). "War protesters gentler, but passion still burns" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune, p. 1. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.  Strausberg, Chinta (October 3 2002). "War with Iraq undermines U.N.", Chicago Defender, p. 1. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.  Bryant, Greg (October 2 2002). "300 protesters rally to oppose war with Iraq", Medill News Service. Retrieved on 2008-02-03.  Katz, Marilyn (October 2 2007). "Five Years Since Our First Action". Chicagoans Against War & Injustice. http://www.noiraqwar-chicago.org/?p=127. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.  Mendell (2007), pp. 172–177.
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  123. Ritter, Jim (March 17 2003). "Anti-war rally here draws thousands" (paid archive), Chicago Sun-Times, p. 3. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. 
  124. McCormick, John (July 14 2003). "Senate hopefuls abound for '04; Forum attracts 9 for Fitzgerald post" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune, p. 1 (Metro section). Retrieved on 2008-02-03.  Chase, John; Mendell, David (January 23 2004). "Senate candidates divided over Iraq; 5 Democrats hit Bush on policy" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune, p. 1 (Metro section). Retrieved on 2008-02-03. 
  125. McCormick, John; Dorning, Mike (October 3 2007). "Obama marks '02 war speech - Contender highlights his early opposition in effort to distinguish him from his rivals" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. 
  126. For audio and text, see: Obama, Barack (November 20 2006). "A Way Forward in Iraq". Chicago Council on Global Affairs. http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/hottopics_details.php?hottopics_id=52. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  127. Obama, Barack (March 2 2007). "AIPAC Policy Forum Remarks". Barack Obama U.S. Senate Office. http://obama.senate.gov/speech/070302-aipac_policy_fo/index.php. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.  For Obama's 2004 Senate campaign remarks on possible missile strikes against Iran, see: Mendell, David (September 25 2004). "Obama Would Consider Missile Strikes on Iran" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  128. Official Obama campaign's official website Accessed 11 May 2008
  129. New York Times Interview 2 November 2007
  130. Transcript of Youtube Debate 24 July 2007
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  132. Obama, Barack; Sam Brownback (December 27 2005). "Policy Adrift on Darfur", The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  Doyle, Jim (May 1 2006). "Tens of Thousands Rally for Darfur", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  133. Kuhnhenn, Jim (May 17 2007). "Giuliani, Edwards Have Sudan Holdings", Associated Press, SFGate.com. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  Obama, Barack (August 30 2007). "Hit Iran Where It Hurts", New York Daily News. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  134. Obama, Barack (July–August 2007). "Renewing American Leadership", Foreign Affairs. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  135. Lerner, Michael (July 3 2006). "U.S. Senator Barack Obama Critiques Democrats' Religiophobia", Tikkun Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  "Sen. Barack Obama: Call to Renewal Keynote Address". Beliefnet. June 28 2006. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/194/story_19473_1.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  136. Gibson, Manda (June 28 2006). "At Global AIDS Summit, Churches Challenged to Take the Lead", PurposeDriven.com. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  137. "Screaming Crowds Welcome U.S. Senator 'Home'", CNN (August 27, 2006). Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  138. Obama, Barack (December 1 2006). "Race Against Time—World AIDS Day Speech", Obama U.S. Senate Office. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  139. "Rick Warren/Barack Obama AIDS Partnership Must End, Say Pro-Life Groups", Christian Newswire Press Release (November 28 2006). Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  See also: Van Biema, David (December 1 2006). "The Real Losers in the Obama-Warren Controversy", Time. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
  140. "Barack Obama: Faith Has Been 'Hijacked'", Associated Press, CBS News (June 24 2007). Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  See also: Brody, David (July 30 2007). "Obama to CBN News: We're No Longer Just a Christian Nation", Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved on 2008-01-14. 
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  144. Obama (2006), p. 329.
  145. Fornek, Scott (October 3 2007). "Michelle Obama: 'He Swept Me Off My Feet'", Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  146. Obama (1995), p. 440, and Obama (2006), pp. 339–340. See also: "Election 2008 Information Center: Barack Obama". Gannett News Service. http://www.gannettnewsservice.com/?cat=153. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  147. Zeleny, Jeff (December 24 2005). "The First Time Around: Sen. Obama's Freshman Year", Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  148. "Indictment - U.S. vs. Levine and Rezko" (PDF publisher=Chicago Business). http://www.chicagobusiness.com/downloads/rezkoindict.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-05-30. 
  149. "Obama's Money", CNNMoney.com (December 7 2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-28.  See also: Goldfarb, Zachary A (March 24 2007). "Measuring Wealth of the '08 Candidates", The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  150. Zelany, Jeff (April 17 2008). "Book Sales Lifted Obamas' Income in 2007 to a Total of $4.2 Million", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  151. Kantor, Jodi (June 1 2007). "One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-28.  See also: "The Love of the Game" (video), HBO: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, YouTube (BarackObama.com) (April 15 2008). Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  152. Parsons, Christi (February 6 2007). "Obama Launches an '07 Campaign—To Quit Smoking", Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  153. "Questions for the Candidates", Associated Press, USA Today (May 15 2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  154. "Gambling Buddies: Obama Flush with Poker Prowess", Associated Press, CNN (September 24 2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  155. Obama (2006), pp. 202–208. Portions excerpted in: Obama, Barack (October 23 2006). "My Spiritual Journey", Time. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  156. Obama (1995), p. vii.
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  162. Hart, Gary (December 24 2006). "American Idol", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. 
  163. Tomasky, Michael (November 30 2006). "The Phenomenon", New York Review of Books, Internet Archive. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. 
  164. Malkoutzis, Nick (March 27 2008). "Obama's Audacious Vision", Kathimerini English Edition, International Herald Tribune in Greece and Cyprus. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. 
  165. "L'audacia della speranza" (in Italian). Libreria Rizzoli. http://libreriarizzoli.corriere.it/libro/obama_barack-audacia_della_speranza_l.aspx?ean=9788817016582. Retrieved on 2008-03-18. 
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  167. Morain, Dan (May 17 2008). "Obama's wealth has skyrocketed", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  168. Enda, Jodi (February 5 2006). "Great Expectations", The American Prospect. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Graff, Garrett M (November 1 2006). "The Legend of Barack Obama", Washingtonian. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  Podhoretz, John (December 12 2006). "Obama: Rorschach Candidate", New York Post. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  169. Finnegan, William (24 May 2004). "The Candidate: How the Son of a Kenyan Economist Became an Illinois Everyman", New Yorker. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Tilove, Jonathan (February 8 2007). "In Obama Candidacy, America Examines Itself", Times-Picayune (New Orleans). Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  170. Obama (1995), p. 13. For reports on Obama's maternal genealogy, including slave owners, Irish connections, and common ancestors with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Harry Truman, see: Nitkin, David; Harry Merritt (March 2 2007). "A New Twist to an Intriguing Family History", Baltimore Sun. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  Jordan, Mary (May 13 2007). "Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place to Claim Obama as Its Own", The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  "Obama's Family Tree Has a Few Surprises", Associated Press, CBS 2 (Chicago) (September 8 2007). Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  171. Brackman, Harold (March 9 2007). "Obama and the Jews", Jewish Journal. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  172. "Keeping Hope Alive: Barack Obama Puts Family First". The Oprah Winfrey Show. October 18 2006. http://www.oprah.com/tows/slide/200610/20061018/slide_20061018_284_110.jhtml. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  173. Wallace-Wells, Benjamin (November 2004). "The Great Black Hope: What's Riding on Barack Obama?", Washington Monthly. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Scott, Janny (December 28, 2007). "A Member of a New Generation, Obama Walks a Fine Line", International Herald Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  174. Dickerson, Debra J (January 22 2007). "Colorblind", Salon. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.  For a sampling of views by other black commentators see: Younge, Gary (posted October 27 2006 (November 13 2006 issue)). "Obama: Black Like Me", The Nation. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  Crouch, Stanley (November 2 2006). "What Obama Isn't: Black Like Me", New York Daily News. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. Archived from the original on 2007-03-08.  Washington, Laura (January 1 2007). "Whites May Embrace Obama, But Do 'Regular Black Folks'?", Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  Page, Clarence (February 25 2007). "Is Barack Black Enough? Now That's a Silly Question", Houston Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. Archived from the original on 2007-03-08. 
  175. Ehrenstein, David. "Obama the 'Magic Negro'", Los Angeles Times, March 19 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.
  176. Payne, Les (August 19 2007). "In One Country, a Dual Audience" (paid archive), Newsday. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  177. Robinson, Eugene (March 13 2007). "The Moment for This Messenger?", The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Senior, Jennifer (October 2 2006). "Dreaming of Obama", New York Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  178. Obama (2006), p. 10. Sirota wrote that Obama's confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State and his reluctant support of a Senate filibuster opposing President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court may disappoint "those who see him as a bold challenger of the system".Sirota, David (June 26 2006). "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington", The Nation. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. Will, George F (December 14 2006). "Run Now, Obama", The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  Other praise by conservative media:"The Daily Dish". http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/01/bainbridge-asks.html.  conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan defends his praise for Obama, theatlantic.com, January 2008 Washington Watch: Obama's fund-raising record reveals weakness of Hillary's campaign Conservative editor Jeffrey T. Kuhner praises Obama.
  179. Noonan, Peggy (December 15 2006). "The Man From Nowhere", OpinionJournal (Wall Street Journal). Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Obama (2006), pp. 122–124. For Noonan's comments on Obama winning the January 2008 Iowa Caucus, see: Noonan, Peggy (January 4 2008). "Out With the Old, In With the New", OpinionJournal (Wall Street Journal). Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  180. Dorning, Mike (October 4 2007). "Obama Reaches Across Decades to JFK" (paid archive), Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.  See also: Harnden, Toby (October 15 2007). "Barack Obama is JFK Heir, Says Kennedy Aide", Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  181. LA Times, Oct. 5, 2009
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