Age on Jan. 20, 2013: 51
Full name: Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.
Family: Wife Michelle Robinson Obama. Two children.
Education: B.A. in political science, Columbia University, 1983, also attended Occidental College; J.D., Harvard University Law School, magna cum laude, 1992, first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.
Career highlights: Lecturer on constitutional law, University of Chicago, civil rights attorney, community organizer, 1993-7; author, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 1995; Illinois state senator, 1997-2004; Senator from Illinois, 2005-8, served on Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Grammy award in spoken-word recording for Dreams from My Father audiobook, author, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006, Grammy award in spoken-word recording for The Audacity of Hope audiobook, Democratic presidential nominee, 2008, President of the United States of America, 2009-present.
Political pluses and minuses: Being such a new, young senator was nothing but an asset for Obama's presidential effort, as he brought a fresh, eloquent voice to the political debate and ran credibly as a Washington outsider. Obama announced his candidacy from the steps of the Old Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, Feb. 10, 2007. He is our first African American president, or to put it another way, the twenty-fourth Irish American president (and the first also of African heritage) and the first president born in Hawaii. Obama's campaign was sure-footed, with just a few slight breaks in the momentum. Obama well outraised Sen. John McCain in terms of money raised, small donations and the number of contributors. He brought in new, energized young and independent voters. Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination as he secured the majority of convention delegates on June 3, 2008, with a rousing speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, congratulating the historic candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton and criticizing the already failed proposals of President Bush and GOP candidate McCain. Sen. Obama chose Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate Aug. 23. He formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president in Denver Aug. 28 with a powerful speech at Mile High Stadium. He won all three presidential debates against a cranky, disconnected Sen. McCain. He became the President-Elect on Nov. 4, 2008 with an electoral vote landslide, with the most votes of any presidential candidate in American history and as the first Democratic presidential nominee to win a majority of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He took the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States of America on Jan. 20, 2009.
President Obama's first term in office has been marked by much partisan acrimony, which he usually avoids personally. Some progressives are disappointed with him because there has not been more movement toward ending U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, or are disappointed because more progressive goals, like tax fairness, implementing health care reform which is visible and meaningful to people's lives or providing a path to citizenship which is equal and just for all have met with frustration. The answer to that has to be go and vote for more and better progressives on all levels, and especially as reinforcements for a solidly reelected President Obama. Despite impatience and dissatisfaction from all quarters, Obama has had historic accomplishments as well, what with guiding America through a gigantic Bush Era financial collapse, passing health care reform, well distributed if underfunded stimulus for the troubled economy, ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy after a quarter of a century of congressional stagnation on that simple issue and continuing to break up al Qaeda and terrorist networks. He's even trying to help cut the budget, deficit and debt and we'll see how that goes.
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