Barack Hussein Obama

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Barack Hussein Obama (b. 4 August 1961) is the junior Senator from Illinois, elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 2004. He is currently a high profile candidate for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States in the 2008 election. He is, at present, the only African American serving in the United States Senate.

Senator Barack Obama

Early Life and Education

Senator Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham in 1961. In 1967 he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia with his mother and new stepfather. He attended an Indonesian Public School followed by a Catholic school until he returned with his mother to Hawaii. There he attended the Punahou School, a private preparatory school until 1979, the year of his graduation.

Obama continued his education at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California before graduating with his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in New York, New York. After working as a community organizer in New York City and Chicago, Illinois, Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School. He was the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude with his J.D. in 1992.

According to Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are eighth cousins. A spokeswoman for Mrs. Cheney added Obama “is a descendent of Mareen Duvall. This French Huguenot’s son married the granddaughter of a Richard Cheney, who arrived in Maryland in the late 1650’s from England."[1]

Legal Career

Following law school, Obama continued his work as a community organizer in Chicago as Director of Illinois Project Vote. In 1993 he was hired as an associate at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. and began lecturing in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He remains on the faculty on leave of absence through today. During this time he wrote his first book, Dreams from My Father, detailing his background, his youth, and his education. Dreams was published in 1995.

Senate Career

Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate for the first time in 1996 and served there for the next eight years. Following a failed campaign for the House of Representatives, Obama ran for the open Senate seat from Illinois in 2004. Obama rose to national prominence following his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He defeated his opponent, Alan Keyes, and was elected to the 109th Congress.

His voting record places him as the tenth-most Liberal member of the U. S. Senate. His composite liberal rating was 86 percent, just seven points behind Ted Kennedy. Among fellow Senate Democrats, he was further left than liberals like John Kerry, Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, Russ Feingold, Carl Levin, Joseph Biden and Harry Reid.[1] Senator Obama is a Democratic front-runner for the 2008 United States presidential election.

In late 2006, Obama's second book authored, The Audacity of Hope, was published. The book contains more of Senator Obama's personal story including the roles of both family and politics. Audacity has spent 23 weeks on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers List. [2]

Presidential Campaign

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama on the campaign trail with Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton during the National Anthem. (from Time.com)

Senator Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Saturday, February 10, 2007 in Springfield, Illinois. His announcement speech largely avoided specific campaign issues and focused on his general political message of hope for the future. It also attempted to strongly invoke the memory of Abraham Lincoln and his "House Divided Speech." [3]

In early April 2007, Obama's campaign announced his first quarter fund raising figures. The campaign generated over $25 million dollars from over 100,000 users. $23.5 million of that money will be available for the Democratic Primary. [4] After the first Democratic presidential debate in Columbia, South Carolina, Obama's image as an "articulate" spokesman came into question after his failure to state right away that he would retaliate in case of further terrorist strikes against the United States. [5][6]

During a fund raising event in Virginia in May 2007 Obama told donors,

This week there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died. An entire town destroyed.[7]

Obama evidently was misinformed, whereas in reality the tornado which touched down in Kansas cost the lives of 9 people in the town of Greensburg, and 12 overall in Kansas.

By August it appeared Obama was running to be left off the ticket completely rather than the much ballyhooed Hillary/Obama ticket the mainstream media was pushing. After a series of ill-advised foreign policy statements, Obama was openly criticized as a light-weight even by liberals, in much the same vein John Edwards and Dan Quayle had been depicted. First, Obama said he would openly embrace two of Florida's most fearful enemies, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Florida is a key state to any presidential ambitions. Then Obama advised he would be willing to invade the sovereign territory of a U.S. ally without prior consultation. Finally, Obama broke the cardinal rule of declaring he would not use nuclear weapons, removing the element of bluff U.S. Presidents had vitally depended upon throughout the Cold War era. The incidents all added up to a picture of a candidate ill-prepared and ill-advised, lacking in a basic understanding of the Office of the Presidency, and failing to surround himself with appointees able to make up for his deficiencies.

Political Views

Senator Barack Obama's political views have been a matter of controversy even before he put himself forward as a Presidential Candidate. Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay has described Obama's record in the Illinois Senate as that of a “Marxist leftist.”[8] In May 2007, Obama voted against funding the Iraq War. The funding bill also included an increase in the minimum wage from $5.85 to $7.25, which was intended to help America's most needy individuals. [9][10]

Obama has said, "Doing the Lord's work is a thread that runs through our politics since the very beginning," and "it puts the lie to the notion that separation of church and state in America means somehow that faith should have no role in public life." [11]

Nonetheless, he has defied parents by asserting that elements of sex education should be taught in kindergarten. [12]

Obama spoke at the May 1, 2006 illegal immigration march in Chicago. [13]

Faith and Values

As he describes in "The Audacity of Hope" Obama grew up in a non-religious environment. When he was a child in Indonesia, he attended a Muslim mosque school. That was enough for a group of detractors to circulate the lie that he is a crypto-Muslim trying to gain control of the White House. What is true is Obama together with his wife (reared a Baptist) have been active members for a year at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama describes his conversion in "The Audacity of Hope". The title of this book is borrowed from one of his pastor's sermons. He is at ease quoting Scriptures and speaking to church audiences.

Rather than taking a religion-based approach to male-female relationships, Obama says schools should provide science-based sex education in schools. [14]

Published Criticism

On April 11th, 2007 staff writers of The Boston Globe reported the criticisms of several black commentators regarding Obama's apparent hesitation to join the race to condemn acclaimed radio personality Don Imus [15] who made a racially insensitive remark [16] on the air during the April 4th broadcast. Obama did not comment on the Imus' remarks until well after prominent civil rights leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson had called Imus to account and after Imus was suspended by MSNBC and CBS Radio. Obama later weighed in on April 10th by saying, "The comments of Don Imus were divisive, hurtful, and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds."

The Globe reported that Obama's perceived delay in addressing Don Imus' remarks was described by Melissa Harris Lacewell, a professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, as "miss[ing] an opportunity to prove himself to blacks and white liberals who would have wanted Obama take the lead in denouncing Imus." [17][18]

In June 2007 the Chicago Sun-Times reported Obama had actually recieved nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted slum landlord Tony Rezko [19] and his associates than Obama has publicly acknowledged. [20]

See Also

Sources

References

  1. ‘Dick and Barack Obama are eighth cousins', Lynne Cheney, MSNBC. Retrieved October 16, 2007.
  2. New York Times Best Sellers Non Fiction
  3. "Obama declares he's running for president" 11 February 2007, www.CNN.com
  4. Obama Shows His Strength in a Fund-Raising Feat on Par With Clinton, 4 April 2007, Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy, The New York Times
  5. Clinton Campaign Tries to Keep Heat on Obama Over Debate Response, Dan Balz, Washington Post April 28, 2007.
  6. Chicago Sun-Times, 'I was a little nervous' at debate', Lynn Sweet, April 29, 2007,
  7. Transcript: 'Special Report with Brit Hume,' May 9, 2007, retrieved from FOX News, 06/13/07.
  8. Rock Star Obama Whines About His Ears, RushLimbaugh.com, December 13 2006
  9. HR 2206 - Emergency Appropriations, Kathy Gill, Your Guide to U.S. Politics: Current Events. May 26 2007.
  10. Votes - H.R. 2206: Iraq Supplemental, May 28, 2007. Retrieved from Deeper Inside the Mountain, June 4, 2007.
  11. Obama says religion has place in politics, By Todd Dorman, Sioux City Journal, June 18, 2007.
  12. "Barack Obama reaffirmed to Planned Parenthood this week that he believes elements of sex education should begin in kindergarten." (ABC News) July 20, 2007
  13. Immigration marches
  14. "But it's the right thing to do," Obama continued, "to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools." (ABC News) July 20, 2007
  15. Obama's silence on Imus alarms some blacks, Rick Klein and Joseph Williams, The Boston Globe, April 11, 2007.
  16. over Imus puts heat on other broadcasters, Daniel Trotta, Reuters, 2007-04-12.
  17. Obama's silence on Imus alarms some blacks, Rick Klein and Joseph Williams, The Boston Globe, April 11, 2007.
  18. Obama, Race, and The Election, Real Clear Politics.com
  19. Barack Obama and his slumlord patron, Tim Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, April 23, 2007.
  20. Rezko cash triple what Obama says, Chris Fusco and Tim Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, June 18, 2007.