Barack Obama

Barack Obama

6 articles
Short biography

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. His parents met at the University of Hawaii in a Russian language study group. His father, a black Kenyan, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a shepherd as a child, but was able to get a government scholarship and came to the United States to study economics. His mother, white American Stanley Ann Dunham, studied anthropology. When his son was two years old, Obama Sr. went alone to Kenya, where he got a job as an economist in the government office. He divorced his wife and saw his son only once before his death in a car crash in 1982.

Together with his mother and stepfather Lolo Soetoro, Obama went to Indonesia, where he spent four years, studying in one of the public schools of Jakarta. Then he returned to Hawaii, living with his mother's parents. In 1979 Obama graduated from the privileged private school Punahou (Punahou School) in Honolulu. During his school years he was fond of basketball and as a member of Punahou team he won the state championship in 1979. In his memoirs published in 1995 Obama himself recalled that in high school he used marijuana and cocaine, and his academic performance declined.

After school Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles, then transferred to Columbia University, where he graduated in 1983 with a bachelor's degree (political science and international relations). In 1985, he interrupted his corporate career and settled in Chicago, where he worked for a church charity group. Then as a "social organizer" at a Gamaliel Foundation affiliate, Obama helped residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods in the city and initiated programs to build housing for the poor. According to one of Obama's Web sites, it was his experience in philanthropy that made him realize that change in law and policy was necessary to improve people's lives.

In 1988, Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School, where in 1990 he became the first black editor-in-chief of the university's prestigious Harvard Law Review since its founding. At Harvard Law School, the position was considered the highest for students. In 1991, Obama received his J.D. with honors (magna cum laude) and returned to Chicago, where he practiced law. He mainly defended in court the victims of different kinds of discrimination. Besides, till 2004 Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School the constitutional law.

In 1992 Obama was one of the founders of the nonprofit organization on improvement of skills of young managers - Public Allies. From 1993 to 2004 he worked in the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland and continued his philanthropic work. He practiced law until 2002, when his license expired. During this time Obama became known as a liberal, an opponent of the creation of NAFTA - North American Free Trade Area, a fighter against racial discrimination and a supporter of universal health insurance.

Obama's political career began in the Senate of Illinois where he represented the Democratic Party for eight years from 1997 to 2004. In 2000 Obama made an attempt to run for the elections to the House of Representatives but lost the primaries to the acting Congressman Bobby Rush - the former participant of "Black Panthers" movement. In the State Senate Obama cooperated with both Democrats and Republicans: the representatives of the two parties worked together on the state programs to support low-income families by reducing taxes. Obama was a strong supporter of the development of pre-school education. He supported measures to tighten control over the work of investigative agencies. In 2002 Obama became famous for his speech at the anti-war rally in Chicago, in which he condemned the plans of George Bush administration to invade Iraq.

In 2004 Obama entered the fight for the nomination for one of the seats from the state of Illinois in the USA Senate. In the primaries he managed to win a convincing victory over six opponents. The chances of Obama's success increased when his Republican opponent Jack Ryan had to withdraw his candidacy: the reason was the scandalous charges brought against Ryan in the course of the divorce process.

On July 29, 2004 during the election campaign Obama made an address to the national convention of Democratic Party. His speech, which was televised, made Obama widely known in the United States. The senatorial candidate urged his listeners to go back to the roots of American society and to once again make the USA a country of "open opportunities": the ideal of open opportunities he illustrated with the example of his own biography and the biography of his father.

In the Senate election, Obama defeated Republican Alan Keyes by a wide margin. He came into office on January 4, 2005 and became the fifth black senator in the history of the USA. Obama has joined several committees: Environment and Public Works, Veterans Affairs and International Relations.

As previously in the State Senate, Obama has worked with Republicans on a number of issues, most notably working on government transparency legislation. In addition, along with prominent Republican Senator Richard Lugar, Obama visited Russia: the trip was devoted to cooperation on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On the whole, Obama voted in the Senate in line with the liberal line of the Democratic Party. He paid special attention to the idea of developing alternative energy sources.

Senator Obama managed to quickly gain the sympathy of the press and become one of the most visible figures in Washington. By the fall of 2006, observers already considered his nomination at the next presidential elections to be quite possible. At the beginning of 2007 Obama was in the second place after Senator Hillary Clinton on the list of the Democratic Party favorites. In January Obama created an evaluation committee to prepare for his participation in the presidential election. As of early February 2007, 15 percent of Democrats were ready to support Obama and 43 percent of Democrats were ready to support Clinton.

On February 10, at a rally in Springfield, Illinois, Obama announced that he would enter the presidential race. If he won, he promised to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Along with the Iraq campaign, he criticized the Bush administration for its lack of success in combating dependence on oil supplies and in promoting education.

One of Obama's vulnerabilities as a candidate was the issue of his being "African-American. As it turned out, some members of the black population, including the most influential ones, were slow to recognize Obama as one of their own. The fact is that, unlike the "real" American Negro, Obama is not the descendant of slaves brought to the American continent from West Africa. Moreover, the Senator did not happen to be involved in the fight for black rights - unlike most American black politicians.

According to the opinion polls, by the beginning of summer the ratings of Obama and Clinton had briefly tied, but in June Hillary managed to get into the lead again (33% of supporters of Clinton vs. 21% for Obama). In the subsequent period, the gap between Obama and the leader was widening, reaching about 30% in the fall: Clinton's rating was nearly 50%, while Obama's was about 20%. In this context, the first primary election season caucuses in Iowa on January 3, 2008 were of particular importance. In Iowa, Obama was able to come out on top by December, beating Clinton and another rival, former Senator John Edwards. At the same time, the gap between the three candidates in Iowa was narrow, and a fierce rivalry unfolded in the state. Observers, including the experienced Republican pollster Karl Rove, associated Obama's chances of success in the national race with the Iowa vote.

On January 3, 2008 the voting in Iowa took place and Obama won: he got 37.6 percent of votes ahead of Edwards (29.7 percent) and Clinton (29.5 percent). According to sociologists, after that it was no longer possible to talk about Clinton's sole leadership. The victory in Iowa gave a powerful boost to the Obama campaign. The fight between Obama and Clinton (Edwards dropped out of the race on January 30) was a variable success, but in March, Obama came out ahead. On June 7, Clinton announced the cessation of the campaign and urged her supporters to support Obama. In fact, after that, the Obama campaign began as the single Democratic candidate against the Republican candidate John McCain.

The Obama campaign had a number of peculiarities. In particular, he refused as a matter of principle to accept donations from lobbyists as well as to use the budget funds provided by the American legislation. His religious views had a great influence on Obama's rating: in March 2008 Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was shown on American television, where he named the US foreign policy as one of the reasons for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and uttered the phrase "God damn America". Obama was quick to disassociate himself from Wright and in May 2008 he and his wife announced that they were leaving the church.

In July 2008, Obama's foreign policy agenda was more or less defined. He announced his plan to withdraw the main forces of the American troops from Iraq within 16 months from the moment of his accession to the post of the President of the United States. At the same time, Obama's plan called for retaining some U.S. military personnel to pursue terrorists, protect U.S. citizens and train Iraqi security forces. During the 2004 U.S. Senate elections, Obama said he would support an armed invasion of Iran only as a last resort, but during the presidential campaign, he was already calling Iran the main threat to peace in the Middle East.

Unlike McCain, who, among other things, called for excluding Russia from the G8, Obama was careful not to make any offensive remarks about Russia, and in his "new strategy in the new world" speech on July 15, 2008, he even suggested trying to get some cooperation with it. However, in August 2008, during the fighting in South Ossetia and Georgia, he made an address in which he called Russia the aggressor, stated that its actions in Georgia were unjustifiable, and urged to revise relations with Moscow.

On the eve of the opening of the Democratic Party Congress, on the 23rd of August 2008, Obama announced his choice of a running mate - the supposed candidate for the post of the Vice-President of the United States from the Democratic Party. He became Senator Joe Biden. The candidacies of Obama and Biden were approved at the congress of the party on August 28.

Obama met with McCain three times at the campaign debates - on September 26, 7 and October 15. According to the polls, Obama won all three rounds. Unsuccessful performances at the debates, as well as the scandal of the abuse-of-power investigation of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, have lowered McCain's approval rating. Some bookmakers even admitted in advance that Obama would win the election, and McCain himself said on October 19 that he was prepared for a possible defeat.

Obama won the election on Nov. 4, securing the votes of 51 percent of voters and receiving more than 300 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win. The inauguration of the first black president of the United States took place on January 20, 2009.

After taking office, Obama won approval of his anti-crisis plan, which provided for the allocation of $787 billion to stabilize the U.S. economy. In September 2009, Obama announced a review of the Bush administration's plans to deploy National Missile Defense (MND) elements in Europe. In March 2010 Obama, despite the strong opposition of the Republicans, he managed to pass the health care reform law, which by 2014 should have the health insurance of 95 percent of the population. At the end of August 2010 the last combat unit of the American army was withdrawn from Iraq and Obama officially declared the end of the USA military mission in Iraq.

In October 2009 Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since 1992 Obama is married to lawyer Michelle Robinson Obama, they have two daughters.

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