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|President Barack Hussein Obama|
|44th President of the United States|
| In Office:|
January 20th, 2009-Present
|Vice President:||Bill Richardson|
|Preceded by:||Charles Malcolm Edwards|
|Junior Senator from Illinois|
| In office:|
January 3, 2005 - November 16, 2008
|Preceded by:||Peter Fitzgerald|
|Succeeded by:||Ladda Duckworth|
|Born:|| August 4th, 1961 (age 47)|
|Children:||Sasha and Melia|
|Alma mater:||Harvard Law|
Barack Hussein Obama II; born August 4, 1961 is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until November 2008, when he resigned following his election to the presidency.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree, and worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
Obama lost an election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He entered the 2004 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as an underdog and then won the primary with broad support that surprised campaign watchers and raised his profile in the Independent movement. He was selected to deliver the keynote address at the Independent Candidates Convention in July 2004 and gave a nationally televised speech that further raised his profile. In the November general election he won a landslide victory for a Senate seat.
He launched a bid for president in early 2007 and competed in a close contest in the 2008 Independent presidential primaries against Michaëlle Jean and YouTube politico CSPANJUNKIE. He won the nomination and became the first African American presidential candidate nominated by a major political entity. In the 2008 general election he was endorsed by President Edwards, and many began to call the election more of a coronation than an campaign. Running a campaign on the slogan of "Progress for Tomorrow," (The Hope and Change argument had already been used by President Edwards), Senator Obama captured the imagination of the American Public and defeated Libertarian candidate Ron Paul, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, and Democrat Joe Biden and was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2009.
Early life and career
Barack Obama was born at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, to Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship. The couple married on February 2, 1961, and Obama was born later that year. His parents separated when he was two years old, and they divorced in 1964. Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982. Obama would later move to Indonesia with his mother and step-father Lolo Soetoro, who was attending college in Hawaii. From ages six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, including Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham, and attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979.
Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 and remained there until 1977, when she relocated to Indonesia to work as an anthropological field worker. Dunham finally returned to Hawaii in 1994 and lived there for one year before dying of ovarian cancer. Many attribute this tradgety to Obama's relationship to President Edwards, who also lost his mother to ovarian cancer, albeit at a much younger age.
Obama often described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He disclosed that he used alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind." At the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency in 2008, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his "greatest moral failure." Some of his fellow students at Punahou School later told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that Obama was mature for his age, and that he sometimes attended college parties and other events in order to associate with African American students and military service people.
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College, only to transfer two years later to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations and graduated with a B.A. in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group. After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes on Chicago's far South Side. He worked there as a community organizer from June 1985 to May 1988. During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000. He helped set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute.
Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year, and president of the journal in his second year. During his summers, he returned to Chicago where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990. After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago. Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations, though it evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as "Dreams from My Father."
From April to October 1992, Obama directed Illinois's Project Vote, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and 700 volunteers; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be. For twelve years, Obama served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School teaching constitutional law. He was first classified as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004. He also joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002. Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project, and also from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation. Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg-Edwards Challenge from 1995 to 2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995 to 1999. He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.
Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois's 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and providing statewide universal healthcare, largely working with Project Hope and modeling his legislation off of the successes in Washington, Oregon, and California under the leadership of then Mayor Edwards. He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. 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. Obama was reelected in 1998, defeating Republican Yesse Yehudah in the general election, and was reelected again in 2002. 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. 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. He 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, and eventually declared himself an Independent. 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. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.
In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate; he enlisted political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003. Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Independent, Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates. 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. In the March 2004 primary election, Obama won an unexpected landslide victory with 53% of the vote in a seven-candidate field, 29% ahead of his nearest rival, which overnight made him a rising star in the national Independent movement and started speculation about a presidential future. In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Independent Candidates Convention in Seattle, Washington. He spoke about the progress of the U.S. government's economic and social priorities, while applauding the Edwards administration's management of the Afghan War and speaking about obligations to American soldiers. He criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America." Though it was not televised by the three major broadcast news networks, a combined 9.1 million viewers saw Obama's speech, which was a highlight of the convention and elevated his status as a star in the Independent movement. Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004. Two months later, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes' 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history. Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005. Obama was the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the third to have been popularly elected. He was one of three Senate members of the Congressional Black Caucus. CQ Weekly characterized him as a "dynamic Independent" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007. The National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007; in 2005 he was ranked sixteenth most liberal, and in 2006 he was ranked tenth. In 2008, Congress.org ranked him as the eleventh most powerful Senator, and the politician was the most popular in the Senate, enjoying 72% approval in Illinois. Obama announced on November 13, 2008 that he would resign his senate seat on November 16, 2008, before the start of the lame-duck session, to focus on his transition period for the presidency. This enabled him to avoid the conflict of dual roles as President-elect and Senator in the lame duck session of Congress, which no sitting member of Congress had faced since Warren Harding.
The 2008 election began when Treasury Secretary Ron Paul resigned from the office he had held since the start of the Edward Administration and entered the race on the Libertarian Ticket. The Independents, knowing that a Paul Administration would undue all that President Edwards had worked for, quickly rallied behind three potential candidates; Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mayor Bloomberg, and Senator Barack Obama. Under the new online Primary system, the race rapidly narrowed to a battle between Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Obama. Obama came off much as he did in OTL: calm under pressure, charismatic, and intelligent. Bloomberg came off as somewhat more dynamic, but was constantly referred to as an elitist, and was tainted by elements of corruption. Senator Obama won the primary with 59% of the vote. Once the general election came around few expected the Senator to do much better than be recognized as the first African American Presidential candidate nominated by a major political entity. All of that changed when President Edwards announced his endorsement. The universal assumption was that the president would endorse Former Treasurer Ron Paul; but when the President announced his endorsement of Senator Obama, every prediction of the election went out the window.
- "Once in a great while we find ourselves presented with that once in a lifetime opportunity that if missed will pass us by never to be heard from again and looked at with a feeling of longing and regret that will never leave our spirits. As a nation we have that opportunity in this election. In my eight years as your President I have seen politicians come and go, and the old Washington elite fight progress at every turn; but there is one man, who I have known since I was first elected Mayor of Seattle, who has always displayed that ideal sense of public service that is often so rare in those who seek Public Office. That is the man I will endorse to be the next President of the United States of America, that is the man who I know is the only person running who I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt will continue to lead this country towards a brighter tomorrow and understands the challenges, and the opportunities, of our time. That man is Senator Barack Hussein Obama!"
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President, and Bill Richardson as Vice President, took place on January 20, 2009. President Obama's first act upon entering office was the introduction of the Second Bill of Rights into the House of Representatives for passage. The Amendments within the SBR will effectively solidify the socio-economic gains made by President Edwards into constitutional law. They passed in the House in July with large acceptance by the Independent Majority and the dwindling Democrats, but were chastised by the Libertarians, and the last few remaining Republicans. One famous cartoon criticizing the second bill of rights shows Obama putting the US Constitution through a shredder, with the founding fathers' ghosts leaving the machine. That caused a significant uproar among the independents and former President Edwards condemned the caricature, saying that it is immature and an outdated view. During President Obama's third day in office he signed an executive order that caps senior staff pay raises at 100,000 dollars.
On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed his first bill into law, the Michael Cortez Fair Pay Act of 2009, which eased the requirements for filing employment discrimination lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the American Economic Growth and Reinvestment Plan, which significantly expands the Civilization Acts to include funds towards the new American states.
In March 2009, Obama increased an Edwards-era policy that directed federal tax dollars to be used to fund research on new lines of embryonic stem cells. Although such research had been a matter of debate, Obama stated that he believed "sound science and moral values...are not inconsistent," and that we have "the humanity and conscience" to pursue this research responsibly, pledging to develop "strict guidelines" to ensure that.
On May 26, 2009, Obama nominated Leah Ward Sears to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter. Sears was confirmed on August 6, 2009 by a vote of 68-31. She joins Clarence Thomas as one of two African Americans on the Court and is the third African American and fifth woman ever to be a Justice.
On February 17, 2009, Barack Obama signed into law the American Growth and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $7.8 trillion economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economy develop in the newly admitted Canadian and Latin American States from their deeply recessed economies by comparison to the other states. Obama made a high-profile visit to Capitol Hill to engage with Congressional leaders, but the bill ultimately passed with the support of only three Republican senators and no libertarians. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax code reforms and subsidies, and direct assistance to individuals, which is being distributed over the course of several years, with about 25% due by the end of 2009. In June, Obama, unsatisfied with the pace of the investment, called on his cabinet to accelerate the spending over the next weeks. In September, Obama argued that the stimulus package helped stop the economic downturn in the Latin states and built up their economies.
In March, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, took further steps to manage the financial crisis, including introducing the Public-Private Investment Program which contains provisions for buying up to $8 trillion in depreciated real estate assets that were deemed to be weighing down stock valuations, freezing the credit market and delaying economic recovery in the poorer states. On March 23, The New York Times noted that "investors reacted ecstatically, with all of the major stock indexes soaring as soon as the markets opened." Along with spending and loan guarantees from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, about $110.5 trillion had been authorized by the Edwards and Obama administrations, with $20.7 trillion actually spent by the end of June 2009.
Obama continued to invest in the growing automotive industry in March, renewing government funds for General Motors and Chrysler Corporation to continue improving the quality of their vehicles, while increasing milage and emmissions standards.
Second Bill of Rights
Obama has called for Congress to pass a Second Bill of Rights, a key campaign promise and a top legislative goal. On July 14, 2009, House Democratic leaders introduced, the first five amendments of the ten which Obama wants Congress to approve by the end of the year.
After much public debate during the Congressional summer recess of 2009, Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 9 where he addressed concerns over his administration's proposals. The Amendments finally cleared the Senate on October 1st, 2009 and are set to be ratified by state legislatures by the middle of 2010.
While President Edwards had moved the US towards a much more aggressive space policy, Obama has recently begun a total evaluation of the burgoning US space industry as well as NASA. This examination has culminated in the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, better known as the Augustine commission. The expressed goal is to ensure the nation is on "a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space." The review was announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 7, 2009. It will cover human space flight options after the time NASA had planned to launch the first Interplanetary Exploration Vehicle. A summary report was provided to the OSTP Director John Holdren, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and NASA Administrator on September 8, 2009. The estimated cost associated with the review is expected to be US$3 million. The committee is scheduled to be active for 180 days.
In February and March, Vice President Bill Richardson and Secretary of State Joe Biden made separate overseas trips to announce a "new era" in U.S. foreign relations with China and Africa, using the terms "break" and "reset" to signal major changes from the policies of the preceding administration. Obama's granting of his first television interview as President to an Arabic cable network, Al Arabiya, was seen as an attempt to reach out to Arab leaders.
On March 19, Obama continued his outreach to the Muslim world, releasing a New Year's video message to the people and government of Iran. This attempt at outreach was embraced by the new Iranian leadership. In April, Obama gave a speech in Ankara, Turkey which was well received by many Arab governments. On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University in Egypt calling for "a new beginning" in relations between the Islamic world and the United States and promoting Middle East peace, and development.
On September 24, 2009, Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to preside over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. President Obama has already appointed specialists to the Middle East, China, and North Korea to discuss negotiations without pre-conditions. He has continued to support India, and has continued the draw down of troops across the world to continue the development of the UN Multinational Force with the signing of an executive order that closes an additional 30 US bases around the world.
Currently the President is actively working with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to negotiate a lasting peace in the region. He has stated that he believes that President Edwards may have been a little hasty with is stop of all US military aid to Israel, but cannot deny that it has leveled the playing field for negotiations more than ever before. Currently leaders of Palestine, Israel, and even Hamas are set to meet with Secretary of State Biden in Jerusalem to begin talks about a sovereign Palestinian state, and a conclusive cease fire between the two nations.
Occupation of Pakistan
During his presidential transition, President-elect Obama announced that he would retain the incumbent Defense Secretary, Anthony Zinni, in his Cabinet. Early in his presidency, Obama moved to change the perception of U.S. war strategy by planning to decrease troop levels in Pakistan and allow the Indians to begin their administration of the former nation, as was planned in the closing days of the Edwards administration. On February 27, Obama declared that security operations would end in Pakistan within 18 months. His remarks were made to a group of Marines preparing for deployment to Burma. Obama said, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our security mission in Pakistan will end."
Burmese Civil War
Early in his presidency, Obama moved to change US strategy by directly sending troops to aid democratic forces in Burma as the war began to shift in their favor, a dramatic switch from his stance as a candidate. On February 18, 2009, Obama announced that the US troop strength in Burma would be roughly 17,000, asserting that the escalation was necessary to "allow the Burmese Liberation Army to secure a victory from the Junta government," an area he said had not received the "strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires". On May 11, Obama replaced his military commander in Burma, General David D. McKiernan, with former Special Forces commander Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, believing that Gen. McChrystal's Special Forces experience would facilitate the use of counterinsurgency tactics in the war. There has been some criticism of the President risking serious escalation and turning Burma into a Vietnam-esq quagmire.
On December 1, 2009, Obama announced that he would deploy an additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers over a period of six months. He also proposed to begin troop withdrawals 18 months from that date. Additionally as US forces secure territory for the pro-democracy forces, the US will being implementing similar development programs as it did in Afghanistan during the Edwards years.
|The Obama Cabinet|
|President||Barack Hussein Obama||2009–Current|
|Vice President||Bill Richardson||2009–Current|
|Secretary of State||Joe Biden||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Treasury||Timothy Geithner||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Defense||Anthony Zinni||2009–Current|
|Attorney General||Patrick Fitzgerald||2009–Current|
|Secretary of the Interior||Mark Udall||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Agriculture||Bill Nelson||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Commerce||Ralph Nader||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Labor||Hilda Solis||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Health and|
|Secretary of Education||Arne Duncan||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Housing and|
|Secretary of Transportation||Ray LaHood||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Energy||Arnold Schwarzenegger||2009–Current|
|Secretary of Veterans Affairs||Patrick Murphy||2009–Current|
|Chief of Staff||Rahm Emanuel||2009–Current|
President Obama elected to keep several members of the Edwards staff, and three key members of the Obama cabinet on from the Edwards administration. Anthony Zinni is expected to stay on as Defense Secretary for at least one term; Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to stay on as Attorney General for at least a year; and Acting Treasury Secretary Geithner, who replaced Treasury Secretary Ron Paul during his 2008 presidential run, is expected to stay on for the duration of the Obama Presidency.
Supreme Court Nominations
- Leah Ward Sears 2009: Replacing Associate Justice David Souter who was retiring.
In February of 2009 Associate Justice David Souter announced that he was going to be retiring from the Supreme Court within several months. President Obama chose to nominate moderate Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward Sears. Sears was met with a level of criticism from the right for her decision on what many saw as a racially biased decision involving the Troy Davis case. Sears however demonstrated a great level of resilience and was confirmed on May 26, 2009.
Recently rumors have been circulating about the possible retirement of Chief Justice John Paul Stevens, who will turn 90 years old in 2010.
Barack Obama is seen by much of the country as a calm leader who is a steward of the Edwards policies. Many have already begun to speculate that Obama will be remembered much the same as Harry Truman after Roosevelt, or possibly President Clinton. President Obama is viewed by much of the country as more moderate than his predecessor, and has calmed some of the more conservative members of the country with his Christian faith, although some have suspected that Obama is really an agnostic and is simply lying about his beliefs to garner votes from conservatives.
President Obama has taken his share of opposition from conservative fringe groups while in office, most notably the same group that claimed that President Edwards was not eligible to hold office: the Birthers. The claim this time by the conspiracy group, was that President Obama, a documented born US Citizen, was actually a Muslim born and raised in Kenya. These allegations have been time and again proven false, but much as with President Edwards, they continue.