Candidate Profile #11: Barack Obama

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After 8 straight victories, including sweeping yesterday’s Potomac Primaries in a single bound, you may be wondering: is Barack Obama made of steel?

superman

Well, it’s about time we gave you the skinny on the charismatic super Senator from the land of Lincoln in our 11th installment of the candidate profiles.

Semi-boring facts:

Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. His mother was the Kansas-born daughter of a U.S. Army veteran, his father was a Kenyan studying abroad at the University of Hawaii. Obama’s parents separated when he was two and his father went to Harvard to pursue a PhD, eventually moving back to Kenya. Obama was raised in Hawaii for several years, then in Indonesia by his mother and his Indonesian step-father, and then back in Hawaii by his maternal grandparents.

After high-school, Obama went to Occidental College in Los Angeles for a few years before transferring to Columbia University in NYC, graduating in 1983 with a BA in Political Science with a focus on international relations. He moved to Chicago and worked in community development. He met his wife Michelle working at a law firm, and they were married in 1992. Obama attended Harvard Law School and became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He returned to Chicago to work as a civil rights lawyer and a teacher of constitutional law.

Obama’s political career began when he was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1994. He made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, but remained active in the State Senate until he began running for the U.S. Senate seat in 2003. He won the election by 70% over Alan Keyes in November 2004.  He became the fifth African-American Senator in U.S. history, and quickly assembled a team of high-powered advisors to assist him in Congress.

What he stands for:

Known for being a charismatic and powerful public speaker, Obama first gained national attention when he gave a stirring keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention which brought to light the themes that have driven his 2008 campaign: hope, unity, and of course, CHANGE. His campaign is based on the idea that America is ready for a new kind of politics and he believes that because of his unique and fresh perspective, he is the one to bring the country together and be the catalyst for lasting transformation.

Specifically, he wants to fight for universal health care by cutting costs, as opposed to mandating coverage. An opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning, he proposes an immediate and measured drawback of the troops over a period of 16 months, with no plans for permanent bases. On the economy: he wants tax breaks for the middle class, a repeal of the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, aggressive anti-predatory lending laws and fair trade in global markets. He plans to fight climate change by reducing dependency on foreign oil through developing new technologies and creating a green marketplace. And because Obama’s campaign prides itself on taking no money from special interest lobbyists, they feel they’ll be free of the obligations that keep other politicians from effectively addressing a lot of these issues.

Personal Tragedy:

Obama’s father died in an auto accident in Kenya in 1982. His mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995, shortly after Obama’s memoirs were published.

Potentially Offensive Remarks:

It’s hard to find real juicy gaffes from this guy, but he did get into trouble last month with some Democrats, including Clinton and Edwards, when he said: “I think it’s fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10 to 15 years in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.” He also said: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.” His opponents ran with it, casting both remarks as an endorsement of Republican policies and President Reagan. Obama later clarified what he meant: “I didn’t say I liked Ronald Reagan’s policies. What I said was that was the kind of working majority we need to form in order to move a progressive agenda forward.”

He also got into some hot water on the campaign trail back in May when he said he would consider negotiating with Iran to offer economic incentives for abandoning their nuclear program—he was immediately characterized by his opponents (mainly Clinton) as naive—he responded in the words of JFK: “we should not negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.”

Random Factoids:

Obama talks openly about his past drug use – he wrote that in his teenage years he used alcohol, marijuana and cocaine to “push questions of who I was out of my mind”

He started a well-publicized (and successful) attempt to quit smoking right before his presidential campaign. 

His wife, Michelle, declined his initial offers to date.   

Obama Resources:
Official Site
Wikipedia entry
Senate page for Illinois
CNN profile
Washington Post profile
Obama Girl video
Will.i.am music video

Delightful Obama Photos:

Dome-tacular:
dome

Time cover:
time

Family Photo:
family

Yearbook:
yearbook

Obama with his wife and two daughters:
daughters

Book cover:
book

Breaking the waves:
beach

Caricature:
caricature

Balladeer:
la cucaracha

Buttons! I, personally, am an Obama Mama.
buttons

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4 Responses to “Candidate Profile #11: Barack Obama”

  1. joe goff Says:

    please become our VISE pres. it will give you time to mature. I feel you are a good guy but you are just NOT-READY. so please do the USA a favor and run as the vise pres. sign undecided voter.!

  2. CeCe Says:

    No please open your mind–he should be the next president. Being the president’s wife doesn’t make you the better candidate. Their experience is the same law background and time in the senate, please. Hillary will be Vice if she is lucky. Please I would much rather see a family in the white house. A FAMILY not a political machine that blows with the wind and targets people not with sincerity but purely because she needs the vote. She is liable to strike a deal behind closed doors. She is the real charmer.

  3. Pat Says:

    Michelle Obama, at the UCLA rally, said she had been told to
    “wait her turn” when trying to enter college. Really? She also
    stated they told her her grades were not good enough. She made it sound as if she had to fight to get in….but not for anything but race.

    That same speech left me with an uncomfortable feeling. I squirmed at the thought of still bearing the cross of slavery…..over 100 years later.

    Didn’t Obama recently attack McCain for saying we were going to be in Iraq for 100 years?

  4. Belle Says:

    A legacy is a legacy. Dominance and submission started with the fight to creep out of the primordial sea and get laid on the beach. You’re uncomfortable because you, personally were not the enslaver. The fact is that Americans (for the sake of this argument) have not managed to overcome that enslaver legacy, and that’s what really bugs you (it is the same enslaver/dominator mentality that led us into Iraq, and, coming soon: Iran!)

    That enslaver legacy, e.g. kidnapping, degradation, deculturation, exploitation, humiliation, segregation…pick an “ation”, has left a good many slave descendants on the very bottom of, well, everything. This complicates our feelings, having been raised in this erstwhile and presently ostensible “land of opportunity”. Bootstraps, baby, bootstraps.

    What is truly at the very root of this issue is the political and economic hegemony of corporate capitalism. (yawn) Of course there are still racists, but when the big picture is explored, demographics trump race, but corporate capitalism trumps all.

    When property ownership and the commodification of goods became the means to power (Thank you Akkadians!!), humans began an 11,000 year slide down the slippery slope to corporate personhood. In the interim we’ve done a lot of cool stuff, but we have failed to recognize our behaviors and indeed utilize our most powerful gift: Syllogism. We, as a species fail miserably at anticipating the consequences of our actions and acting toward best possible outcomes. I mean, really…!

    And here, I return to my perception of your discomfort which appears more complex than at first blush. If you are not responsible for slavery, and you are discomfitted by those who still wield it as an issue, I would suggest that you’re discomfort really stems from a frustration that we have not yet solved the problems stemming from the hegemony that condoned enslavement (capitalist/dominator); moreover, we have not recognized, or perhaps admitted that corporate capitalism (CC) and its adjutant activities is now codified, (and poorly regulated!) behavior akin to those ruled by religious dogma.

    If those who took this CC behavioral path, or any of those who followed in that path were collectively transpersonally conscious enough to extrapolate the seemingly inevitable consequences of their folly–truly failing to recognize somewhere along the line the historical pattern of established societies exhausting their available resources and having to move or fight over resources with their neighbors–perhaps the legacies of genocides and slaveries would not now haunt us.

    So the question becomes not about the next hundred years, but the next forever, or indeed, right now. Lennon’s dreamers are not the only ones, but we have to find a means to overcome willful ignorance and intransigent short-sightedness, both of which stem from fear–a wholly mutable state of being. Then different color skins will just be sexy.

    Hey let’s put on a show.

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