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Barack Obama on Principles & Values

Democratic incumbent President; IL Senator (2004-2008)


Put nation's interests before party

It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country--the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.

The American people don't expect government to solve every problem. They don't expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation's interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together; and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.

Source: 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 12, 2013

If all Americans get opportunity, we're all better off

Q: How do you view the mission of the federal government?

OBAMA: The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe. That's its most basic function. And as commander-in-chief, that is something that I've worked on and thought about every single day that I've been in the Oval Office. But I also believe that the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed. As Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let's help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let's start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we're all going to be better off. That doesn't restrict people's freedom. That enhances it. What I've tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 3, 2012

Letters from Americans: This is who we are fighting for

Every night, President Obama reads ten letters from everyday Americans. When I met with the president at the end of each day, he made sure he had their letters to read at his residence. Letters from people just hoping for someone in power to understand their struggles.

I can't tell you how many times, whether we were discussing the economy, health care or energy crisis, the president walked to his desk, take out one of the letters and read them to us and say, "This is who we are fighting for.'' Parents working hard to save for their child's education. Middle-class Americans fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their jobs, their homes or their life savings. It is their voices that President Obama brings to the Oval Office. It is their values I saw him fight for everyday.

Source: Rahm Emanuel's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

OpEd: Offered a third way; but hid left-of-center agenda

The campaign was heading to the wrong conclusion: Senator Barack Obama's election to the presidency. It became increasingly obvious he was going to win. He was a compelling figure, with an extraordinary gift for public speaking. His soaring rhetoric, almost poetic at times, but always seeming so calm and reasonable, blurred the lines between right and left and spoke to a nation weary of angry partisanship. He seemed to offer a third way and hope to Americans exhausted by 2 long wars and terrified by an economic crisis that threatened their jobs and savings.

Hidden beneath his centrist message, however, was a decidedly left-of-center policy agenda-- exactly what the country didn't need. His personality and language gave an impression of moderation, but his ideas and voting record revealed a dogmatic, big-government liberal.

Source: An American Son, by Marco Rubio, p.164-165 , Jun 19, 2012

OpEd: Many blacks voted for Obama only because he's black

Just prior to the last presidential election, when the first African-American was elected president of the US, I saw on television a segment where a reporter was interviewing African-Americans in Harlem, NY, about various policies advocated by candidate Barack Obama. All of the interviewees enthusiastically supported each policy discussed without knowing that they were actually the policies held by candidate John McCain. The most hilarious part of the interviews occurred when the people were asked what they thought about Senator Obama's choice of his running mate, Sarah Palin. The answers were all quite favorable toward Governor Palin because she was picked, they thought, by Obama. Many African-Americans voted for Obama simply because he was a black man and not because they resonated philosophically with his policies. If the situation were reversed, and white people were obviously voting for their candidate based on race and not political philosophy, shouts of racism would be deafening.
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.117-118 , Jan 24, 2012

Compact in past decades: do your job & make it in America

We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.

Millions of Americans have spent months looking for work. These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share--where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decen salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in awhile. If you did the right thing, you could make it in America.

But for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the deck too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington hasn't always put their interests first.

But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people's lives.

Source: Pres. Obama's 2011 Jobs Speech , Sep 8, 2011

OpEd: seeks newer New Deals and greater Great Societies

Obama during his victory speech in 2008: "Let us ask ourselves--if our children should live to see the next century.what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call." And answer it Obama has--with the most rapid government growth in American history, outpacing that of every president before him combined. Obama and his party continue to ask what our government should be doing "for" our children but never seem to comprehend what it's doing "to" them, saddling future generations with unfathomable debt that truly is nothing less than generational theft. Liberals keep desiring newer New Deals and greater Great Societies, while so many Americans-at-large are increasingly clamoring for something much simpler and sane--a return to the US Constitution.
Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. xii , Feb 22, 2011

American exceptionalism is same as any other exceptionalism

Many people don't believe we have special message for the world or a special mission to preserve our greatness for the betterment of not just ourselves but all of humanity. Astonishingly, President Obama even said that he believes in American exceptionalism in the same way "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which is to say, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism at all. He seems to think it is just a kind of irrational prejudice in favor of our way of life. To me, that is appalling.

When President Obama insists that all countries are exceptional, he's saying that none is, last of all the country he leads. That's a shame, because American exceptionalism is something that people in both parties used to believe in.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. 69 , Nov 23, 2010

92% of Tea Partiers: "Obama is moving US toward socialism"

By April 2010, over half of the nation--and 92% of Tea Partiers--believed that President Obama was moving the country toward socialism. Combine our anxiety over the meltdown with today's downward economic mobility, and you get scapegoating run amok. A Harris Poll in March 2010 showed that, among Republicans, 57 percent believe Obama is a Muslim, 38 percent believe he "is doing many of the things that Hitler did," and 24 percent believe that the president "may be the Anti-Christ."
Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p. 86 , Sep 2, 2010

Loyal opposition is not just valuable, but a necessity

I very much am appreciative of your invitation. You know what they say, "Keep your friends close, but visit the Republican Caucus every few months." Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you. And I hope that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead. It's important to me that we do so. It's important to you, I think, that we do so. But most importantly, it's important to the American people that we do so.

I'm a big believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity. Having differences of opinion, having a real debate about matters of domestic policy and national security--and that's not something that's only good for our country, it's absolutely essential. It's only through the process of disagreement and debate that bad ideas get tossed out and good ideas get refined and made better. And that kind of vigorous back and forth is at the heart of our democracy.

Source: Obama Q&A at 2010 House Republican retreat in Baltimore , Jan 29, 2010

Hard times test us, like we have been tested in the past

It's tempting to look back and assume that our progress was inevitable--that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people. Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.
Source: 2010 State of the Union Address , Jan 27, 2010

Despite setbacks, Americans don't quit; & I don't quit

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going--what keeps me fighting--is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment--to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address , Jan 27, 2010

OpEd: Comfortable with differences; downplays separations

During the primary election, Obama talked about bringing people together, downplayed conflicts between Americans, and said that we are all more alike than we are different. His campaign focused on hope and unity and an attempt to bring people together regardless of their political affiliation, race, age, gender, or geographic location.

What has made Obama different from other major candidates in recent years is his willingness and his comfort with difference, as well as his refusal to concede that divisions must be standard fare in party politics.

Barack Obama embraced the new ethos--his speeches, day after day, centered on what brings American together and downplayed what separates us. He repeated, in varying iterations, that "the choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It's not about rich vs. poor, young vs. old; it is not about black vs. white. It's about the past vs. the future."

Source: Unite and Conquer, by Kyrsten Sinema, p. 13-14 , Jul 1, 2009

OpEd: Master of values-laden over outcome-laden language

Barack Obama is the master at speaking the language of values rather than outcomes, which is why he was so successful not only as a state legislator and US Senator but as a presidential candidate. He can speak to people with widely divergent views and, by using values-laden language rather than outcome-laden language, have these divergent groups all nodding their heads and stepping to the table to work together. He said it best in August 2008 during his acceptance speech as the Democratic presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention:

"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers."

Source: Unite and Conquer, by Kyrsten Sinema, p.103-105 , Jul 1, 2009

OpEd: Unflappability comes from Methodist grandparents

Obama's decision to emphasize calm over passion during his debates with McCain was a prudent choice. By the 3rd debate, McCain's fury at having to share the stage with an impudent upstart--an upstart with an expanding lead in the polls--was evident in every twitch and eye-rolling grimace.

McCain's jabs drew no self-defeating counterpunches, leaving Obama "calm, cool and collected for the most part." The "Washington Post" judged "John of the Grimaces met Barack the Unflappable and the guy with the arctic cool prevailed." Obama's goal "was to look resolute, but also to be the world's least angry--or more precisely, anger-able--black man."

Never mind that his brown skin made it hard for viewers to trace any of that unflappability to his white grandparents' "straight-backed form of Methodism that valued reason over passion and temperance over both," as he described it in "Dreams from My Father." He had already written eloquently about the folly of a black man resorting to rage.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.115-117 , Jan 20, 2009

OpEd: Combines clergy oratory with intellectual eloquence

The tradition of African American eloquence to which Obama properly belongs owes a partial debt to black ministers. It derives more substantially from activist intellectuals, such as Rep. Barbara Jordan, who have mastered both emotional flights of rhetoric and reasoned argument. Its common themes are usually composed of the following elements: Because of that legacy, eloquence is well known, even expected, by black audiences.
Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.120-121 , Jan 20, 2009

"Obama Messiah Watch": Keep eye on media gushing hyperbolic

Barack's wife, Michelle, did her best to humanize the candidate's persona. Her early comments at fund-raisers attempted to reconcile his public and private images. "There's Barack Obama the phenomenon. He's an amazing orator, best-selling author, Grammy winner. Pretty amazing, right? And then there's Barack Obama that lives with me in my house, and that guy's a little less impressive. For some reason this guy still can't secure the bread so that it doesn't get stale, and his 5-year-old is still better at making the bed than he is."

So many gushy profiles and news articles had already appeared that Slate had launched Obama Messiah Watch, "a periodic inquiry into whether Barack Obama is the son of God." The feature would "spotlight gratuitously adoring biographical details. The objective is not to insult Obama, but rather to restore a little rationality to the coverage of his potential candidacy." A year after the feature's debut, the effusive praise had become a deluge of hyperbole.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.166-167 , Jan 20, 2009

Ordinary people found the courage to keep the promise alive

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story--of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to. It is that promise that has always set this country apart--that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women--students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive. We meet at one of those defining moments--a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Measure progress by observing how ordinary people are doing

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million ne jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President -- when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under Bush. We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job -- an economy that honors the dignity of work. The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great -- a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Our government must keep the promise of America

The promise of America says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect. It’s a promise that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but it should do what we cannot do for ourselves--protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America--the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation. That’s the promise we need to keep.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Fulfilling America’s promise means individual participation

We must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need. Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility -- that’s the essence of America’s promise.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

The American promise is our greatest inheritance

Our country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities & our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the worl coming to our shores. It’s that American spirit--that American promise--that pushes us forward when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours--a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot. It is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner to stand together before Lincoln’s Memorial and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

Traditional conservatives value temperance & restraint

The national agenda is looking more Democratic, both because the circumstances demand it and because Republican policies have so palpably failed.

As Obama has written, "Not all Republican elected officials subscribe to the tenets of today's movement conservatives. In both the House and the Senate, and in state capitals across the country, there are those who cling to more traditional conservative values of temperance and restraint--men and women who recognize that piling up debt to finance tax cuts for the wealthy is irresponsible, that deficit-reduction can't take place on the backs of the poor, that separation of church and state protects church as well as state, that conservation and conservatism don't have to conflict, and that foreign policy should be based on facts and not in wishful thinking."

Bringing Republicans into a progressive policy consensus that Obama leads has been an Obama trademark ever since he went to Springfield, Illinois, as a young state senator in 1997.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.189-190 , Aug 25, 2008

OpEd: Themes of "hope" and "change" has numerous antecedents

We find a problem with Obama's lofty language about "hope" and "change." As we have seen under close analysis these cries have such extensive antecedents they appear borrowed. As we have seen, The Audacity of Hope, the title of Obama's second book was first used by Reverend Wright as the title of a sermon. "Change" is the battle cry championed by radical socialist organizer Saul Alinsky, who devoted a section of his book Rules for Radicals to the topic "The Ideology of Change." Obama has borrowed phrases freely even from movies taking "bamboozled" from Spike Lee's movie about Malcolm X and the phrase "He is the One" from the Matrix movie series. When we look closer at Obama's intellectual legacy, we find him telling us the writers who impressed him growing into intellectual maturity included Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, both masters of black rage.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.300 , Aug 1, 2008

We have to demand more from ourselves

We also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I’ve been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I’m not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch--none of it will make any difference if we don’t seize more responsibility in our own lives. That’s how we’ll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That’s not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That’s not the America they gave so much to build. That’s not the dream they had for our children
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention , Jul 12, 2008

Michelle: My husband demands you move out of comfort zone

The best Obama speech during the presidential campaign was not given by Barack, but by his wife Michelle, on Feb. 3, 2008:

"In 2008, we are still a nation that is too divided. We live in isolation. We don't know our neighbors, we don't talk. We don't realize that the struggles and challenges of all of us are the same. We look at it as 'them' and 'they' and opposed to 'us.'

"We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another. I am here because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come our of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.200-201 , Jul 1, 2008

The Clinton years were undeniably better than the Bush years

Q: A lot of Democrats remember the eight years of the Clinton administration, a period of relative peace and prosperity, and they remember it fondly. Are they right?

A: There’s no doubt that there were good things that happened during those eight years of the Clinton administration. That’s undeniable. Particularly, when looked through the lens of the last eight years with Bush, they look even better. So I don’t want to diminish some of the accomplishments that occurred during those eight years.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday , Jan 31, 2008

Turn the page on the failed politics & policies of the past

Tonight, for the seventh long year, the American people heard a State of the Union that didn’t reflect the America we see, and didn’t address the challenges we face. [We need] to turn the page on the failed politics and policies of the past, and change the status quo in Washington so we can finally start making progress for ordinary Americans. Tonight’s State of the Union was full of the same empty rhetoric the American people have come to expect from this President.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2008

Criticizes voter cynicism from decades of disappointment

At a DNC meeting, Obama said, “our rivals won’t be one another, and I would assert it won’t even be the other party. It’s going to be cynicism that we’re fighting against. It’s the cynicism that’s borne from decades of disappointment, amplified by talk radio and 24-hour news cycles, reinforced by the relentless pounding of negative ads that have become the staple of modern politics. It’s a cynicism that asks us to believe that our opponents are never just wrong; but they’re bad; that our motives in politics can never be pure, that they’re only driven by power and by greed; that the challenges we face today aren’t just daunting, but they’re impossible.“

According to Obama, ”With such cynicism, government doesn’t become a force of good, a means of giving people the opportunity to lead better lives; it just becomes an obstacle for people to get rid of. Too often, this cynicism makes us afraid to say what we believe.“

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 17 , Oct 30, 2007

Post-1960s politics more about moral attitude than issues

After the 1960s, liberalism and conservatism were defined in the popular imagination less by class than by attitude--the position you took toward the traditional culture and counterculture. What mattered was how you felt about sex, drugs, rock and roll, the Latin Mass or the Western canon. For white ethnic voters in the North and whites in the South, this new liberalism made little sense. The violence in the streets and the excuses for such violence in intellectual circles, blacks moving next door and white kids bused across town, the burning of flags and spitting on vets, all of it seemed to insult and diminish family, faith, flag, neighborhood, and for some at least, white privilege. And when, in the wake of assassinations and Vietnam, economic expansion gave way to gas lines, inflation and plant closings, and the best Jimmy Carter could suggest was turning down the thermostat, the New Deal coalition began looking for another political home.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 28-29 , Oct 1, 2006

Americans dislike partisanship--not solution like Dems think

Increasingly, the Democratic Party feels the need to match the Republican right in stridency and hardball tactics. The accepted wisdom something like this: The Republican Party has been able to win elections not by expanding its base but by vilifying Democrats, driving wedges into the electorate, energizing its right wing, and disciplining those who stray.

I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. For it is the predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face. It is what keeps us locked in “either/or” thinking: the notion that we can only have big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate 46 million uninsured or embrace “socialized medicine.”

It is such partisanship that have turned Americans off. What is needed is a broad majority who are re-engaged and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interest of others.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 39-40 , Oct 1, 2006

Enlist the American people in the process of self-government

Part of the change that’s desperately needed is to enlist the American people in the process of self-government. One of the areas that I have constantly worked on is not only pushing aside the special interests--this past year, passing the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate--but also making sure that the government is transparent and accountable. That’s what I think people were responding to in Iowa. They want somebody who’s talking straight to them about the choices that are ahead. They want to make sure that government is responding to them directly, because folks out there feel the American dream is slipping away. They are working harder for less. They are paying more for health care, for college, for gas at the pump. They are having a tougher time saving and retiring. What they don’t feel is that the government is listening to them and responding to them. That’s the kind of change that I think we need.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate , Jan 6, 2006

Guilt is a luxury that not everyone can afford

My stepfather Lolo said, “Guilt is a luxury only foreigners can afford. Like saying whatever pops into your head.” Mother didn’t know what it was like to lose everything, to wake up and feel her belly eating itself. She didn’t know how crowded and treacherous the path to security could be. He was right, of course. She was a foreigner, middle-class and white and protected by her heredity whether she wanted protection or not. She could always leave if things got too messy. That possibility negated anything she might say to Lolo; it was the unreachable barrier between them.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 42 , Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Campaign Themes

Opportunity is who we are: let's restore that promise

There are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That's what drew our forebears here.

Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.

We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job. With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year.

Source: 2014 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2014

I want to build on our strengths; invest in America

Over the last four years, we've made real progress digging our way out of policies that gave us two prolonged wars, record deficits and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Gov. Romney wants to take us back to those policies: a foreign policy that's wrong and reckless; economic policies that won't create jobs, won't reduce our deficit, but will make sure that folks at the very top don't have to play by the same rules that you do.

I've got a different vision for America. I want to build on our strengths. I put forward a plan to make sure that we're bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores. I want to make sure we've got the best education system in the world and we're retraining for the jobs of tomorrow. I want to control our own energy. I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don't need, but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.

Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 22, 2012

This election about vision of restoring middle class values

I know campaigns can seem small, and even silly sometimes. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. The truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I.

But when all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs, the economy; taxes and deficits; energy, education; war and peace, decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come.

And on every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future. Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known.

Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 6, 2012

Fundamental American promise: work hard & build better life

As I got to know Barack, I realized that he'd been brought up just like me. Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.

Barack's grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank, and she moved quickly up the ranks, but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling. And for years, men no more qualified than she was--men she had actually trained--were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack's family continued to scrape by.

But she would often tell Barack, "So long as you kids do well, Bar, that's all that really matters." Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much. They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.

Source: Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

Appointed Clinton & Biden as "team of rivals," like Lincoln

The Obama team had already shrewdly deflected attention away from the politics of the Clinton appointment--whether, for example, Obama was appointing her to remove a potential source of intraparty opposition--by touting the idea of a "team of rivals." That phrase, taken from the title of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book on Abraham Lincoln's Civil War cabinet, gave a grand historical gloss to the uneasy merger of the Obama and Clinton teams, which everyone knew would be carefully scrutinized for any sign of discord.

Nevertheless, at the initial press conference Obama appeared considerably more comfortable with Clinton than, 8 years earlier, George W Bush had looked while announcing his appointment of Colin Powell as secretary of state (Powell proceeded to dominate the ensuing press conference). Bush's foreign policy team had been a genuine team of rivals; Obama's team was something less than that. As applied to the Obama cabinet, "team of rivals" was mostly a marketing concept.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 11 , Jun 14, 2012

Effective citizenship means listening to opposing views

A letter from a group of 6-year-olds inspired a speech in 2010. "If you turn on the news today, we've got politicians calling each other all sorts of unflattering names. The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning--since after all, why should we listen to a "fascist" or "socialist" or "right-wing nut"? It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out.

"So what can we do about this? If you're someone who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while. If you're a fan of Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not often be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship."

Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p.134-135 , Oct 11, 2011

OpEd: Transformative from individualism to collectivism

Obama does not represent merely an alternative ideology or a different set of substantive priorities. He wants to change the basic philosophy and guiding principles of our nation.

It's not just that Obama wants to strengthen political control over our economy and bureaucratic regulation of our businesses. It's not merely that he seeks to socialize medicine. Obama's transformative presidency goes far deeper.

He is seeking to replace individualism with collectivism, & self-determination with community governance. He is seeking to dull the profit motive that now generates commerce, and the democratic impetus that animates our politics, by subjecting them to the deadening hand of bureaucratic control.

And, worst of all, Barack Obama wants to change us He wants us to become dependent on government, to reduce our self-reliance, to curb our ambition, to narcotize ourselves with leisure, and to care more about the strangers we live among than the family for whom you are responsible.

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p. 17 , Apr 13, 2010

Campaign slogan: "Yes, we can"

Obama's campaign slogan "Yes we can" was simple--according to some reports, too simple for Obama, who had to be persuaded to use the phrase by his advisors. But people do tend to want change and improvement; after all, these things are more appealing than stagnation and complacency. Change is a universally popular message, although of course, as we all know, it can't be promised forever without delivery.
Source: The 100 Greatest Speeches, by Kourdi & Maier, p.198 , Mar 3, 2010

We've had lots of plans; but a shortage of hope

Obama formally launched his campaign on Feb. 10, 2007, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Seventeen thousand people packed into the town square.

The speech he delivered laid out all the themes that would carry him through 2007 and beyond. "I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement," Obama proclaimed. "I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change." And: "There are those who don't believe in talking about hope: they say, well, we want specifics, we want details, we want white papers, we want plans. We've had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we've had is a shortage of hope." And: "That is why this campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us. It must be about what we can do together." And: "It's time to turn the page."

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 74-75 , Jan 11, 2010

We’re more decent & compassionate than last 8 years

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. Thi country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slid into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. To the American people across this great land: Enough! This moment, this election--is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. The same party that brought you two terms of Bush and Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention , Aug 27, 2008

¡Sí, se puede! Yes, we can!

We can tear town the barriers that keep the American dream out of reach for so many Americans. We can make sure that the millions of Latinos who are uninsured get the same health care that I get as a member of Congress. We can improve our schools, recruit teachers to your communities, and make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. And we can finally start serving our brave Latino fighting men and women and all our soldiers as well as they are serving us. We can do all this. Sí se puede.

But I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. This election could well come down to how many Latinos turn out to vote. And I’m proud that my campaign is working hard to register more Latinos, and bring them into the political process. Because I truly believe that if we work together and fight together and stand together this fall, then you and I--together--will change this county and change this world.

Source: Obama & McCain back-to-back speeches at NALEO , Jun 28, 2008

Life experiences taught me how to bring people together

Q: I’m wondering if you will describe the moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis.

A: What I look at is the trajectory of my life because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. There were rocky periods during my youth, when I made mistakes & was off course. And what was most important, in my life, was learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions but how I can bring people together to actually have a impact on the world. Working as a community organizer with ordinary people, bringing them together and organizing them to provide jobs and health care, economic security to people who didn’t have it, then working as a civil rights attorney to fight for those who were being discriminated against on the job. It’s the reason that I have the capacity to bring people together, and why I am determined to make sure that the American people get a government that is worthy of their decency and their generosity.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

People understand we must bring the country together

There is a fundamental difference between us in terms of how change comes about. Clinton of late has said: Let’s get real. The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional. The 20 million people who’ve been paying attention to 19 debates and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements, including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas. The thinking is that somehow, they’re being duped, and eventually they’re going to see the reality of things. They perceive reality of what’s going on in Washington very clearly. What they see is that if we don’t bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done. The reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

End politics of division; make it about addition

You know, they said this day would never come. You have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come.

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington, to end the political strategy that’s been all about division, and instead make it about addition, to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.203-4 , Jan 3, 2008

Hope is the bedrock of this nation

Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment--this was the place--where America remembered what it means to hope.

For many months we’ve been teased, even derided, for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.

Hope is what led me here today, with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation, the belief that our destiny will not be written for us but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.206-7 , Jan 3, 2008

Resounds with American theme of overcoming burden of history

Obama’s every quest is part of the artfully woven tale he calls his “journey.” Call it packaging, call it hype. But that saga of personal and political discovery is the most exciting narrative to emerge from the Democratic repertoire in many years. It is not a drama of rising from the meager expectations or a romance of courage under fire. Those are tropes of presidential theater, but Obama’s story is a more like an epic that resounds with a root American theme: overcoming the burden of history.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 48 , Nov 11, 2007

Cultivates comparison to Jack Kennedy

Obama cultivates the comparison with JFK (another member of a formerly stigmatized group: Irish Catholics). It is possible that such a magical leader will signify a change in society broader than his platform would indicate. What Kennedy actually achieved was much less important than the forces he unleashed, and the same may be true of Obama. He is an icon of so many American dreams that he has only to move his long, lithe body and all eyes are on him.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 53-54 , Nov 11, 2007

Campaigns assiduously in black churches

Obama is comfortable sounding churched, though that is something he had to learn. He grew up with a broad skeptical streak, but when he discovered that it was hard to organize poor people without sharing their faith he joined a congregation. Now he campaigns assiduously in black churches, delivering speeches that often focus on fatherhood & family. The black ministers he praises are not the likes of Jesse Jackson (who has been much kinder to him than Sharpton has), but preachers of personal uplift.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 61 , Nov 11, 2007

Community politics: merges Alinsky & political activism

Obama was influenced by Saul Alinsky. In his book, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky preached the idea of “agitation,” which meant “challenging people to scrape away habit.” But unlike Alinsky, who abandoned electoral politics in favor of community organizing, Obama realized the potential of politics to change people’s lives on a mass scale.

Obama’s vision of leadership is a merger between political activism and the community organizing. One might call it “community politics.” Community politics differs from community service, in which the more privileged members of society volunteer to help the poorer. As noble as that may be, it doesn’t create the kind of political empowerment sought by Obama. Instead, community politics aims to transform politics using the techniques of community organizing. Obama’s community organizing approach is to communicate with voters, listen to their suggestions, and convince them to buy in to a set of proposals.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 4 , Oct 30, 2007

Turn the page: invite GOP & independents to join in agenda

Q: You go around the country saying it’s time to turn the page. Are you talking about the Bushes, the Clintons or both?

A: What I’m talking about is ending the divisive politics that we have in this country. I think it is important for us as Democrats to be clear about what we stand for. But I think we also have to invite Republicans and independents to join us in a progressive agenda for universal health care, to make sure that they are included in conversations about improving our education system and properly funding our public schools. I think turning the page means that we’ve got to get over the special interest-driven politics that we’ve become accustomed to. And most importantly it’s important for us to make sure that we’re telling the truth to the American people about the choices we face.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

People have an urgent desire for change in Washington

Q: How are you going to be any different than the other candidates?

A: As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for change in Washington. We are not going to fix anything unless we change how business is done in Washington. Part of that is bringing people together. But part of it is also overcoming special interests & lobbyists who are writing legislation that’s critical to the American people. And one of the things I bring is a perspective that says: Washington has to change.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

A “hopemonger”, having seen the power of hope

Some of my more cynical friends in the media tease me from time to time because they say, he’s always talking about hope, he’s out there peddling hope again, he’s a hope-monger. I talk about hope because I’ve seen its power. I’ve seen the power of hope, the power of faith.

When I got to the Illinois State Senate, people said it was too hard to take on the issue of money in politics, our state had too long a history, too many entrenched interests. But I knew then that we had the people of Illinois on our side. I even found a few folks on the other side of the aisle who were willing to listen. And we passed the first major ethics reform legislation in 25 years.

I know that change is possible. I know where hope leads us. The only reason I’m standing here before you is because of hope. I know what’s possible in America. When I talk about hope, it isn’t just the rhetoric of a campaign; it’s been the cause of my life, a cause I will work for and fight for every single day as your president.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference , Jun 19, 2007

Washington can change if we say: Yes we can

When those voices start sounding the alarm that we can’t change Washington’s ways and start engaging in a serious debate about the serious times we face, just say those 3 words that have made America what it is today: Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t finally buy the radios [first responders] need to talk to one another in case of an emergency, we say, Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t bring [our troops] home from Iraq so they can do the job they love back home, we say, Yes we can.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC , Mar 14, 2007

Replace partisan bickering with politics of hope

Obama called for universal health care, energy independence, an effective policy to stem global warming, and an end to loud and uncivil, Rush-Limbaugh-like public discourse. “We have come to be consumed by a 24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad, bickering, small-minded politics that does not move us forward,” he said in Portsmouth, aiming his critique at both Republicans and his own party as they glowered across a gaping, ever-widening partisan gulf. “Sometimes one side is up, and the other side is down. But there is not sense that they are coming together in a common-sense, practical, nonideological way to solve the problems that we face.”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 17-18 , Feb 15, 2007

I’ve been in DC long enough to know that it must change

I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness--a certain audacity--to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.195 , Feb 10, 2007

Progressives should recognize common morality with religion

The discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religiosity has often inhibited us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Our fear as progressives of getting “preachy” may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in addressing some of our most urgent social problems. After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness.

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. I am suggesting that perhaps if we progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize the values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.214-6 , Oct 1, 2006

“Audacity of Hope” to change politics to reflect common good

[During the early part of my US Senate race], no blinding insights emerged from months of conversation. What struck me was how much of what they believed seemed to hold constant across race, region, religion, and class.

I told them that government couldn’t solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation.

This book grows directly out of those conversations on the campaign trail. The ideals at the core of the American experience, and the values that bind us together despite our differences, remain alive in the hearts and minds of most Americans. The topic of this book is how we might begin the process of changing our politics and our civic life. I don’t know exactly how to do it. But I offer personal reflections on those values and ideals that have led me to public life, and myown best assessment of the ways we can ground our politics in the notion of a common good.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 7-9 , Oct 1, 2006

Seek common ground, not a moral crusade

I came to Chicago 20 years ago to help communities that had been damaged by steel plants that had closed. I’ve worked 20 years to bring jobs to the unemployed. After law school, I worked as a civil rights attorney, helping to bring affordable housing and for the last 8 years I’ve worked as a state Senator. I’ve provided tax relief to those who needed it, health care to those who didn’t have it and helped to reform a death penalty system badly in need of repair. I accomplished these things by setting partisanship aside and seeking common ground. That’s what you, the people of Illinois have told me you want, someone who can reach out and find practical solutions. Now my opponent has a different track record. He is on a moral crusade and labels those who disagree with him as sinners. I don’t think that kind of talk is helpful. I think government works best when we focus on practical solutions for affordable health care and jobs, and working together, I’m certain we can accomplish all of these tasks.
Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes , Oct 21, 2004

I’m living my parents’ dreams and the American dream

My parents shared an improbable love and an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the bes schools in the land even they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Greatness based on Declaration of Independence, not military

I owe a debt to all of those who came before me. We gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over 200 years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.”
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

We are one people all defending the United States of America

The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. But I’ve got news for them. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. There’re patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all defending the United States of America
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Want common-sense solutions, not liberal-conservative labels

I’m not somebody comfortable with liberal-conservative labels. What the American people are looking for are common-sense solutions. They want to get beyond a lot of slash-and-burn politics. One of the most encouraging things about Kerry’s campaign is the degree of hopefulness, reflected in his choice of vice president. This country remains the greatest on Earth, not because of the size of our military or the size of our economy, but because every child can actually achieve as much as they can dream.
Source: Meet The Press, NBC News, 2004 interview with Tim Russert , Jul 25, 2004


Barack Obama on Community Organizing

OpEd: greatest talent is chairing balanced meetings

Because he had such faith in the judgment of the American people, the president viewed the 2008 election as a mandate for seriousness, when his victory was more properly explained as a repudiation of the previous 8 years and a reflection of his personal appeal.

Serious was good, but it didn't have a lot to do with the political universe he now inhabited, a place of cable blowhards and bumper-sticker attacks. Obama was more comfortable in the private, less political part of the presidency, chewing over policy. Some advisors said that his greatest talent wasn't giving a speech but chairing a meeting, where he balanced Socratic dialogue with a hardheaded search for rational, if less than ideal, solutions. The best example of these skills came in the 20 hours of meetings he held in the fall of 2009 about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Again and again the president pushed back against tired assumptions before settling on a new policy [resulting in the Afghan surge].

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p. xvi , May 18, 2010

2008 HQ phone greeting: "What can you do for us?"

Politics in no longer a spectator sport. Those in the grandstands must leave their seats and come down on the playing field to help their side score. That is the key lesson of the Obama campaign. He didn't just have supporters. He had campaign workers--millions of them.

Every caller who dialed Obama's headquarters in 2008 was greeted with a question: "What can you do for us?"

The Internet has made each of us the center of our own political campaign. We ARE the campaign. The days when the candidate and a small group of professionals ran things--and the rest of us chipped in money, showed up at rallies, and voted--are over. Now each of us must conduct our own campaign within our own circle of acquaintances, until the circle spreads to include thousands of voters. Some of us will use the Internet to do so. Others need not feel disqualified by their technophobia. Just do it by old-fashioned word of mouth and snail mail!

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.295 , Apr 13, 2010

Required email list from every candidate event he attended

Obama revamped his political action committee, Hopefund. The PAC had raised a fair amount of money in 2005, but its email list was paltry. Hopefund could become an embryonic infrastructure for Obama's future ambitions. Obama said, "We need to grow these lists--at the end of the year, I want to have options."

Within Obama's operation, "the options" became a code phrase , a reference to three live possibilities: launching a presidential run, bolstering his stature in the Senate with an eye toward the VP slot in 2008, or returning to Illinois to run for governor--with a presidential bid so far remaining at the bottom of the option pile.

The scheme revolved around a simple transaction. Every time he did an event for a candidate, Hopefund would requir the beneficiary to set up a registration system and then turn over the attendees' email address to the PAC.

The was no small thing. As 2006 rolled on, the requests poured in. That added up to a lot of chits, and a lot of email addresses.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 32 , Jan 11, 2010

Headed "Project Vote!" in Chicago in 1990s

In 1992, Obama was hired to head "Project Vote!" in Chicago. Undoubtedly, Project Vote was work Obama was qualified to do, given his community organizing experience and his law degree. Project Vote was a national voter registration drive aimed at increasing minority voter registrations. In Chicago, Obama had his biggest impact registering African-American voters on Chicago's South Side. While he successfully directed Project Vote in Chicago, Obama certainly did not become wealthy doing it.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.157-158 , Aug 1, 2008

Obama worked in same community as Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals in 1971, "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

Chicago's South Side was a focal point of the civil rights movement in 1968. The legacy of institutionalized South Side racism drew to Chicago a cadre of liberal community organizers, including Obama, who were committed to using the principles of change first developed in Chicago in the 1930s by Sau Alinsky.

Alinsky defined community organization tactics for several generations of America leftists, going back to his early efforts to organize Chicago's Back of the Yards meatpacking neighborhood in the 1930s. Alinsky died in 1972, more than a decade before Obama moved to Chicago to learn his methods. Alinsky's goal was to set in motion a peaceful revolution, using the ballot box, not bombs or bullets, to wrench power from the hands of capitalist elites and business leaders currently in charge.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.123&128 , Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Obama implements Alinsky's ideas of radical change

Saul Alinsky's impact on Obama is clear. We need look no further than Alinsky to find out where Obama got his mantra for "change." Long before Obama came on the scene, Alinsky became famous for making "change" his credo. For some three decades before Obama was born, Alinsky had been defining the political meaning of "change" for those radicals he was calling forth in his classic 1971 book, Reveille for Radicals.

"Change," for Alinsky, invoked radical socialism and meant the redistribution of wealth Obama means the same, but by hiding the reference he avoids having to be explicit about the radical goal behind the theme.

Alinsky advocated creating change through a set of carefully calculated power-politics tactics, where the end always justified the means. Make no mistake about it: "change" was always Alinsky's code word for creating a socialist revolution, even if the methodology meant radicals would cut their hair, put on business suits, and run for political office.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.128-131 , Aug 1, 2008

Used community organizer skills as State Senator

In 1995, when Obama decided to run for the Illinois state senate, a community organizing colleague said, "That's a switch."

"Oh, no," Obama said, "I'm going to use the same skills as a community organizer." He was stepping onto the political stage with even larger ambitions to organize communities.

In a 1995 interview, Obama said, "What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who educates voters about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer."

When Obama says his experience "taught me a lot about listening to people as opposed to coming in with a premeditated agenda," he is reciting pure Alinsky dogma. Listening, in the Alinsky lexicon, is just a tactic. Obama listens because he has been taught the only way to intensify discontent is to use the language of the community itself.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.135 , Aug 1, 2008

Organizer's method: from issue to action to power

His first assignment was to learn about the South Side. Throughout his years as an organizer, Obama learned the past and present of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.

His goal was to find issues around which to mobilize: paths to power. In this Obama followed precepts laid down by the early Chicago activist Saul Alinsky. "Power comes in two forms--money and people. You haven't got any money, but you do have people," he had advised would-be reformers.

The formula for Obama was less prosaic. "Once I found an issue enough people careed about, I could take them into action. With enough actions, I could start to build power," he wrote.

There was a glimmer here of larger hopes. "The only answer is to build up local power bases that can merge into a national power movement that will ultimately realize your goals," Alinsky averred.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 19-20 , Apr 1, 2008

1980s: Registered 150,000 voters in Chicago "Project Vote"

His first job out of law school was director of Project Vote!, a registration program inspired by the massive effort that helped elect Chicago's mayor Harold Washington in 1983. The group had a staff of 10 and attracted 700 volunteers. Driven by its slogan, "It's a Power Thing," the project added more than 150,000 primarily African-American voters, of a possible pool estimated at 400,000, to the rolls. For the first time in the city's history registrations in the 19 predominantly African-American wards outnumbered those in the 19 predominantly white wards. The message, according to Obama: "If the politicians in place now at city and state levels respond to African-American voters' needs, we'll gladly work with and support them. If they don't, we'll work to replace them."
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 26 , Apr 1, 2008

Moved to Illinois as community organizer, for $13,000 a year

I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea--that I might play a small part in building a better America.

My work took me to some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren’t simply local in nature--that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; or that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away.

It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.

Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.193-4 , Feb 10, 2007

Poverty of political organizers was proof of their integrity

In the months leading up to graduation, I wrote to every civil rights organization I could think of, to any black elected official in the country with a progressive agenda, to neighborhood councils & tenant rights groups. When no one wrote back, I wasn’t discouraged. I decided to find more conventional work for a year, to pay off my student loans and maybe even save a little bit. I would need the money later, I told myself. Organizers didn’t make any money; their poverty was proof of their integrity.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.125 , Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Family of Origin

Maternal grandfather fought in WWII

Obama was wearing a brown leather bomber jacket adorned with the presidential seal on one breast and an American eagle on the other. It was the same jacket that the staff at Air Force One had given each president for the last forty-plus years, and Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush had all worn it while addressing wartime troops. It looked particularly like a prop on Obama, who had spoken at antiwar rallies only a few years earlier, and whose closest personal connection to the military was his maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who had fought in World War II. As Obama stood before the troops in Bagram, he tugged at the jacket's sleeves and smoothed its zipper.
Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p. 70 , Oct 11, 2011

OpEd: Black father abandoned him, yet identifies with him

Various half-black celebrities insist on representing themselves simply as "black"--the better to race-bait their way to success. Actress Halle Berry, singer Alicia Keyes, and matinee idol Barack Obama were all abandoned by their black fathers and raised by white mothers. But instead of seeing themselves as half-white, they prefer to see the glass as half-black. They all choose to identify with the fathers that ditched them, while insulting the women who struggled to raise them.

In 2002, Berry engaged in wild race-baiting to win her Oscar and then ate up most of the awards show with an interminable acceptance speech claiming that her award was "so much bigger than me." People who say "it's bigger than me" always mean it's just about them. During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly said the exact same thing: "This election is bigger than me." Would they be able to pawn off their personal victories as transformative events for the nation if they were not claiming to be doing it for the blacks?

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 7 , Nov 10, 2009

Father had wife in Africa when he met and married Ann Dunham

Obama traces his father's history in Kenya back to the time his father herded goats while attending the local "British colonial school." Obama claims his father showed such "great promise" that he won a scholarship: "on the eve of Kenyan independence, he had been selected by Kenyan leaders and American sponsors to attend a university in the US." Obama proudly tells the reader his father joined "the first large wave of Africans to be sent forth to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new modern Africa."

Obama carefully omits the underside of the story, that when his father headed off at age 23 to Hawaii, he was abandoning an African girl named Kezia, whom he had married at age 18. Nor does Obama mention that Kezia was then pregnant wit his father's first child.

The London Daily Mail reports that Obama Senior persuaded Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, a "naive 18-year-old white girl, to marry him, without disclosing to her that he had left behind in Africa a wife he had not divorced."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 16-17 , Aug 1, 2008

Father left family for Harvard education

Obama Junior was born on August 4, 1961. In the next sentence, Obama intentionally skips over several more key details. After noting his father's decision to leave Hawaii for Cambridge, Massachusetts, Obama explains, "A separation occurred. The mother an child stayed behind, but the bond of love survived the distances..." The ellipsis omits the facts of the central family drama that shaped his life. We are led to believe that Obama Senior had no choice--Harvard was his only option, and the Harvard scholarship did not provide enough funds.

Instead Obama provides the true explanation some hundred pages later: "The New School agreed to pay for everything--enough to pay for all three of us," his mother tells her son. Obama's mother explains why his father abandoned them to go to Harvard: "Harvard just agreed to pay tuition. But Barack [Senior] was such a stubborn bastard, he had to go to Harvard. 'How can I refuse the best education?' That's all he could think about, proving that he was the best."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 17-18 , Aug 1, 2008

Father's upbringing was Muslim, although never religious

In his autobiography, we learn that Obama's Kenyan father was Muslim, but only indirectly, when Obama explains to a girlfriend in Hawaii that his name is not "Barry," as he was then commonly called, but "Barack," a name Barack explains means "Blessed" in Arabic. He further explains that the name was his father's and says, "My grandfather was a Muslim."

[In an interview with Barack's uncle, Sayid Obama], Sayid affirmed that he and his brother were both born into a religious Islamic family and were raise as Muslims. "I did not see my brother practice Islam," Sayid recalled, "especially after he came back from his studies in the US; I did not consider him to be very religious." While Kenya is approximately 85% Christian, a Muslim minority dates back to 1730. Listening to Sayid, there is no doubt Obama Senior was a Muslim by birth and upbringing, even if his devotion as a Muslim remained in doubt. The facts are that the Obama family in Africa is a Muslim family of the predominantly Christian Luo tribe.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 20-23 , Aug 1, 2008

Father had 3 or 4 wives; Barack has at least 5 half-siblings

When it comes to telling the story of his grandfather, Obama says: "If I could just piece together his story [that of his grandfather, Hussein Obama], I thought, then perhaps everything else might fall into place." The problem is that the grandfather's tale turns out to be as complicated as the father's, filled with multiple wives and the resulting half-brothers and half-sisters, among them Barack Obama Sr.

Barack's uncle Sayid Obama was not even sure how many wives his brother had: 3 or 4, maybe more. There were at least three: the 18-year-old wife, Kezia, whom Obama Sr abandoned when he left Kenya to study in Hawaii; Ann Dunham, Obama Jr's mother, whom Obama Sr abandoned when he left Hawaii to study at Harvard; and Ruth Nidesand, the woman from Harvard who followed Obama Sr back to Kenya and married him there.

The number of children Obama Sr had is equally uncertain. Sayid Obama paused to think when asked how many. "About six," he concluded, although he could not say for sure.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 26-27 , Aug 1, 2008

Many attribute mother's marriages to being anthropologist

Reporters and commentators trying to explain Stanley Ann's marriages often note she was an anthropologist, as if that professional designation settles everything.

An enthusiastic belief in the 1950s and 1960s that the study of natives could help unlock questions of "natural right" probably explains why even Obama saw his mother in terms of "New Frontier" liberalism. Obama recalls "she was a lonely witness for secular humanism."

Stanley Ann passed away in 1995 from ovarian cancer at the age of 52, the year Obama's autobiography was published. So we cannot ask her what her motivation was to marry Barack Senior and Lolo Soetoro. Did her motivation derive from some intellectual commitment to the third world, or an ideological commitment to ameliorate poverty in foreign countries less economically advanced? Was she rebelling against her parents, or the Christian religion, or the Kansas culture into which she was born? Perhaps her simple answer would have been that she loved both men.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 46 , Aug 1, 2008

Lived with grandparents in Hawaii over mother in Indonesia

In the 1970s, for three years, Obama lived with his mother and his sister in Hawaii. When his mother was ready to return to Indonesia to get on with the field work that her master's degree in anthropology would require, Obama did not want to go. When Stanley Ann told Obama she wanted him to return to Indonesia with her and his half-sister, he "immediately said no." Rebelling, Obama decided to stay in Hawaii, confident he had "arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept trouble out of sight." Subtly, Obama is saying not that he would stay out of trouble, but only that he would keep hidden the trouble he seemed to be planning to find.

By returning to Indonesia alone and abandoning a son who refused to go back to Indonesia, Stanley Ann went "native," as many commentators harshly suggested. Obama rationalized it was best for him to be alone, so he could finally sort out his search for identity as an African-American.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 48-49 , Aug 1, 2008

Would be first president to have extended family abroad

If Obama does win the presidency in 2008. he will be the first president in our history to have an extended family in another country. Granted, Obama's brothers and sisters in Africa are half-brothers and half-sisters. Even his "Granny" is not a paternal grandmother, but the second wife of a grandfather who was equally as polygamist as was Obama's father.

What personal ties to the White House will come from Kenya? Are all members of the family equally satisfied and finally resolved that they have inherited what they deserve from Obama Senior?

If Obama wins the presidency in 2008. Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga will correctly perceive that for the first time ever a fellow Luo tribesman is running the United States of America.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.113 , Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Obama invented the dreams in "Dreams from my Father"

Obama's life began with loss, hurt, confusion, alienation, frustration. Out of these he constructed a psychological "mask" that still endures. Every individual wears a mask. It is a part of reality and a part of a healthy personality and psyche.

But Obama's pain still controls his personality. Like Dr. Strangelove's arm that can't help rising, Obama's sense of exclusion and fantasy still overarch his personality. He authored a book "Dreams From My Father," when in reality he got no dreams from his father. Obama created his father's "dreams" in his own fantasy world. The fantasies associated with the "missing parent" are among the most powerful, and occasionally the most devastating, in human experience.

Obama returns in his speeches and in his writings to a sense of loss, alienation, detachment. He is a skillful promoter, and he manages to overcome his mask. First, Obama did not receive dreams "from" his father. Rather, he dreamed about his father, and created a fictional world.

Source: Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, by Andy Martin, p. 7 & 23 , Jul 25, 2008

Greatest mistake: absence from mother when she died

In July 1995, at age 33, Obama launched his first campaign for public office.

Obama's mother was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer the same year. She died in Hawaii on Nov. 7, aged 52. Her son, immersed in his campaign, was thousands of miles away. He terms this absence the greatest mistake of his life. Stricken, he traveled to Hawaii to help scatter her ashes in the Pacific. "She was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known," he wrote in 2004: "what is best in me I owe to her."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 28-29 , Apr 1, 2008

Father's family from the Luo tribe of Kenya

The Obama family traces its modern lineage to Hussein Onyango Obama, a Kenyan member of the Luo tribe born in 1895 near Lake Victoria. Onyango was a restless man of ambition. He was one of the first in his village to wear western clothing, walked for two weeks to Nairobi to find work, braving leopards and other dangers, and served with the British armed forces in World War 1. He visited Europe, Myanmar and Sri Lanka as a soldier and briefly converted to Christianity, but abandoned it for Islam and added "Hussein" to his name following the war.

Senator Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was born in 1936 near Lake Victoria, to Onyango's second wife Akumu. A pair of American teachers befriended Obama, Sr. and helped him apply to US universities. In 1959 he secured admission, after many rejections, to the University of Hawaii to study economics: the institution's first African student.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2-3 , Apr 1, 2008

Related to both Vice Pres. Cheney and Pres. Truman

Obama's mother's family history begins with her parents Madelyn Payne and Stanley Dunham--grandparents of Barack Obama who cared for him during high school. Payne was a Kansan raised by "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing."

Dunham was a Baptist from the "other side of the railroad tracks." It later emerged that he was also a seventh cousin, once removed, of Vice-President Dick Cheney and also a seventh cousin, twice removed, of President Harry S. Truman. Payne's family did not approve of the liaison, and the pair married in secret a few weeks before Madelyn graduated from high school. She told her parents after she received her diploma.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 3 , Apr 1, 2008

Mother described as "the original feminist" at 1960 college

In 1960, Obama's mother Ann graduated from high school and the family moved to Hawaii. Ann, 18, enrolled as a freshman at the University of Hawaii. In a Russian language class, she met Barack Obama, Sr., 23, who told her he was divorced. They gathered with friends on weekends to listen to jazz and discuss politics and world affairs. Ann was the only woman. She was, "the original feminist," according to Neil Abercrombie, now a Democratic congressman from Hawaii who participated in the meetings.

On 2 February 1961 the pair slipped away to Maui and were married. The wedding--Obama, "black as pitch," Ann, "white as milk"--would have been illegal in 22 states. Ann dropped out of college. On 4 August Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born at the Kapi-olani Medical Center in Honolulu.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 3-4 , Apr 1, 2008

In his 20s, searched for his identity, absent both parents

The story of Obama's father was a sad one. He died in 1982 at age 46 in an automobile accident. Obama learned of his death, a few months after his 21st birthday.

His mother moved to Indonesia in 1975 to do field work for her PhD dissertation. Obama, about to begin high school chose to remain in Hawaii. He moved back in with his grandparents.

"I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant," Obama wrote. He looked for answers in books. He read the works of great black American intellectuals: James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and W.E.B. DuBois. But each of these men wound up disappointed and withdrawn. Only Malcolm X's autobiography, his repeated acts of self-creation, Obama said, offered something different. But even that would not provide the answers Obama was seeking. He found himself "utterly alone."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 11-12 , Apr 1, 2008

Father was first African exchange student at U. Hawaii

Obama’s father was the first African exchange student at the University of Hawaii. After studying in London, he arrived in the US in 1959 in “the first large wave of Africans being sent forth to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new, modern Africa,” Obama wrote.

Obama’s father was the son of Hussein Onyango Obama, a prominent farmer in Kenya’s Luo tribe. As a boy, Barack Sr. herded goats on the family farm near a poor village called Kolego near Kenya’s Lake Victoria. He stood out academically in a local school established by the British colonizers and won a scholarship & then a sponsorship for study at the University of Hawaii.

But when he came to America, his father left a pregnant wife and child back in Kenya. When he returne to Africa, he took another American woman with him, eventually marrying her and having two additional children. An atheist with an analytical mind, he worked for a petroleum company, and for a time he was a chief economist for the Kenyan government.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 29-30 , Aug 14, 2007

Traces ancestry to Jefferson Davis, President of Confederacy

In 1959, Obama’s father became the first African student at the University of Hawaii. There, Barack the elder, who, his son would write, was “black as pitch,” met a cheerful 18-year-old freshman who was in contrast “white as milk.”

Ann Dunham was the Kansas-born daughter of a furniture store manager who harbored a bohemian streak. Ann’s mother traced a branch of her family lineage to a famous ancestor-- Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.

The Dunhams moved to the islands in 1960. The two began dating and after a brief courtship, wed--an act that in 1960 was a crime in most states. Newly admitted to the Union, however, Hawaii was young and relatively tolerant, and the family history includes no accounts of Obama’s parents suffering abuse on the streets of Honolulu.

His father later earned his PhD from Harvard, but separated from Ann. He returned, alone, to Kenya, where he became an economist in the administration of the new nation.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 43-44 , Feb 15, 2007

Greeted as hero on visit to ancestral Kenya

Rapturous crowds of Kenyans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his name and likeness changed “Come to us, Obama!” as he visited a memorial at the site of the US embassy bombing in Nairobi.

Obama and his family flew to Kisumu where 1000s lined the route, many climbing trees for a better view of the motorcade carrying the American that the local Luo tribespeople loudly claimed as their own.

In Kogelo, the tiny village where Obama’s father and grandfather are buried side by side and where the octogenarian Luo he calls “Granny” still lives, crowds chanted his name, a tribal singer sang his praises, and children sang songs they had composed in his honor.

“Even though I had grown up on the other side of the world, I felt the spirit among the people who told me that I belonged.”

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 39 , Feb 15, 2007

Father died in car crash before Barack got to know him

Obama’s mother was pleased to learn he planned to visit Kenya [as a young adult, to visit his father]. “I think it will be wonderful for you two to get to know each other,” she said and went on to share her memories including a story about how he was an hour late for their first date.

The way she told the story, he saw the depth of her enduring love for his father. Even though he had left her with a baby to raise, she loved him. “She saw my father as everyone hopes at least one other person might see them.“

Any hope of that appeared to end just a few months later when he received a telephone call from Nairobi. His father had been killed in a car crash. He was 46. His son did not shed a tear.

[Years later, when visiting Kenya], Obama stood before his father’s unmarked grave. He felt he knew and understood and forgave his father for the first time. His father had not succumbed to despair. He had had the audacity to hope. And for the first time, his son wept for him.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 62&71 , Feb 15, 2007

Full name: Barack Hussein Obama; family calls him “Barry”

Obama says, “The original assumption is that I could never win an election statewide with a name like Barack Obama. I actually write in AUDACITY OF HOPE about a political consultant who had been interested in me running statewide who met with me right after 9/11 and said, ‘There is a picture of Osama bin Laden on the magazine cover. This is bad for you.’”

Con: let’s face it, having a name that rhymes with “Iraq” is not a plus.

Pro: “Barack” is a cool name. Parents all over the US spend hours and days searching for distinctive names for their little princes. “Barack” is a less annoying than “LaTreyell.”

Con: The guy shares a name with Saddam Hussein. This is not helpful. Inspired by his Muslim grandfather.

Pro: This should help him with Arab-American voters.

Con: “Obama” is a weird name.

Pro: “Obama” is a cool Kenyan name..

Pro: His family calls him “Barry.” “Barry” sounds reassuringly normal. “Barry” sounds like he is “one of us”: it sounds like he belongs to America, not Kenya

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 3-4 , Oct 17, 2006


Barack Obama on Past Campaigns

2008: supported by both Hollywood and Wall Street

By the third week in April [2008, Obama] was a global phenomenon, the focus of acute, almost frenzied attention, at the head of a wave.

It had built, strong and steady, since Iowa. But coming out of Cooper Union, he was a man touched by the gods--the toast of both coasts, the media, the intelligentsia, Hollywood, Washington, and even Wall Street, which still knew how to invest with targeted might when a growth stock hit its stride. He'd been tested on race, and temperament, and had passed brilliantly with his stunning speech. Race issue: check. He'd pulled together a bipartisan economic team and leapt ahead of the pack on dealing with the country's growing financial shakiness. Policy prescience: check.

Source: Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, p. 47 , Sep 20, 2011

OpEd: Big Business gave more to Obama than McCain

Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Boeing, Pfizer, and General Electric--these companies are the poster-children for "special interests." They are huge and well-connected corporations in key industries. And they have something else in common: employees and executives of these companies all gave more--much more--to Barack Obama than to John McCain in the 2008 election.

Goldman Sachs was the source of more campaign contributions in 2008 than any other company. It also provided Obama with four times as much money as it did McCain--$997, 095 to $230,095. Microsoft employees were even more one-sided, giving Obama more than ten times more money than McCain.

But the Obama campaign pitched the idea, and the mainstream media swallowed it, that small donors were Obama's bread and butter, freeing him "from the tug of big-money corporations and special interests," as the Associated Press put it.

The AP should have checked the numbers.

Source: Obamanomics, by Timothy P. Carney, p. 12-13 , Nov 30, 2009

2006: Started from scratch compared with Hillary & McCain

By late 2006, Barack Obama was already the most exciting presidential candidate of either party. Clinton had the money, the experience, and the political machinery. McCain had run before, plus he had the compelling war hero profile. Both Clinton and McCain had long been preparing for their campaigns, while Obama was arriving at the starting gate seemingly out of nowhere. Who, really, was he, and why had he struck such a strong chord among public and press? What distinguished Obama was his determination not to wait until he had forged a longer political record of achievement, and the historic conjunction of events that made possible so unlikely a candidacy.

Part of Obama's appeal was understandable. To an American public always open to change, especially in difficult times, everything about him promised a sharp break from the past. His personal story was intriguing, and somewhat familiar, thanks to his best-selling memoir "Dreams from My Father", written years earlier.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 19-20 , Aug 4, 2009

1999 Congressional loss: "I got my rear end handed to me"

Bobby Rush is an impressive man. So, why, in 1999, did 38-year-old Barack Obama, who had served in the Illinois senate only 3 years, decide to challenge Rush for his congressional seat? It could not have been the numbers. Rush's name recognition was more than 90%, while Obama's was barely 11%. It also could not have been any political differences. Everyone knew that the two men held nearly the same views.

Whatever moved Obama to run, it was not a pleasant experience for the younger man. From the outset Rush's approval rating was more than 70%. Then, not long into the campaign, Rush's son, Huey Rich, was tragically shot on his way home from a grocery store. The young man hung between life and death for four days. The outpouring of sympathy galvanized support for Rush.

Even President Clinton entered the fray and supported Rush, breaking his own policy of not endorsing candidates in primaries. Rush won 60% to 30%--and Obama was forced to admit that "[I got] my rear end handed to me."

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Borrowed "Yes, we can" slogan from Cesar Chavez 1960s UFW

An example of Obama's borrowing is his use of the catchy "S¡, se puede," which translates into English as "Yes, we can." This slogan traces back to Cesar Chavez and his efforts to organize Hispanic farm workers in the United Farm Workers in the 1960s. "S¡, se puede" more recently became a slogan widely used by the pro-illegal immigration forces in the May Day rallies launched in major cities across the United States over the past few years.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.229-230 , Aug 1, 2008

1996: job of state senator is organizer, teacher, & advocate

In his 1996 campaign for State Senate, Obama said, "Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent, and international economy," he said. "What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them?" he mused.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 31-32 , Apr 1, 2008

5th African-American ever elected to US Senate

The beleaguered Illinois Republican Party threw Maryland resident and two-time GOP Presidential candidate Alan Keyes into the race in August. The former US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Conference had never lived in Illinois and never won an election. Obama beat him 70%-29%, the largest margin of victory ever in an Illinois Senate contest, and became the fifth African-American elected to the US Senate. He resigned from the Illinois Senate and the University of Chicago, and was sworn in.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 42-43 , Apr 1, 2008

June 2008: YouTube hit, "I Got a Crush on Obama"

Obama maintained his grip on the imagination of Internet users and younger voters throughout the summer and fall as the candidates criss-crossed the country to gain media attention, meet voters, and raise money. His youth, campaign themes, relative centrism and opposition to the Iraq war were key selling points. In June, a YouTube video called "I Got a Crush on Obama" featuring a scantily dressed "Obama Girl" who crooned her affection for th4e senator and dismissed his rivals, became a hit. Several million people watched it. On 2 July, the campaign announced Obama had raised $32 million in the second quarter, far above the previous record for the period and more than Clinton's $27 million and Edwards' $9 million. Obama had 154,000 contributors, more than double the 60,000 who donated to Clinton. In December, there was a wave of publicity when billionaire Oprah Winfrey, host of the most popular television talk show in the country, endorsed him.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 50 , Apr 1, 2008

Campaigning on change from the bottom up that King stood for

Q: If Martin Luther King were alive today, why should he endorse you?

A: I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. What he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable, and this goes to the core differences in this campaign Change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize. It was women who decided, “I’m as smart as my husband. I’d better get the right to vote.” arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, that’s the key. That has been a hallmark of my career, transparency and accountability, getting the American people involved. That’s how we’re going to bring about change. That’s why I want to be president of the US, to respect the power of the American people to bring about change.

Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

1990: Elected Law Review president with conservative support

Obama’s most important experience and defining role at Harvard would be his tenure as a writer, editor and finally, president of the Harvard Law Review, the most influential legal publication in the country. It was hard for him to see the significance of this role at the time, but the Review presidency would provide him with his first lessons in managing both bitter electoral politics and the personal agendas of individual people.

The top job held little appeal for Obama. In 1990 the Review’s staff of about 75 students was riven by intense partisan feuding--large factions of liberals and small bands of conservatives. Obama was one of 19 editors who ran for presidency--after the last conservative was voted out of the competition, that faction threw its support behind Obama, tilting the election in his favor, and bestowing on him the honor of being the first African American to hold the presidency. Obama used some of his appointment power to place conservatives in key editorial positions.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 87-90 , Aug 14, 2007

Senate 2004 campaign theme: “Yes we can”

[The theme of Obama’s 2004 TV ads for Senate] was “Yes we can,” which implied many things depending on who was interpreting its meaning: [His campaign] framed this message primarily in terms of Obama’s barrier-breaking Harvard Law Review presidency (which whites had reacted to favorably in focus groups) and the landmark legislation that he passed in the Illinois senate.

“Now they say we can’t change Washington?” Obama asked in an earnest voice while stepping forward to fill the camera frame. “I’m Barack Obama and I am running for the US Senate to say, ‘Yes, we can.’ ”

Other commercials used the same “Yes, we can” mantra to appeal to different constituencies. Pollsters have consistently found that urban voters lean toward candidates who are change agents.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.229-230 , Aug 14, 2007

Lost Congressional primary in 1999 to Bobby Rush

Running to unseat Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther Party member and a four-term congressman who enjoyed wide popularity in his overwhelmingly black South Side district in Chicago, Obama endured thinly veiled suggestions that his light-colored skin, his Columbia University and Harvard Law School education, his work as a lawyer and constitutional law profession and his biracial lineage--no descendant of slaves, his father was a government official from Kenya, his mother a Kansas-born WASP--meant that he was elitist and not “black enough” to relate to the lives and needs of his constituents. Rush trounced him by a two-to-one-margin in the primary, and Obama retreated to his law practice at a small civil rights firm in Chicago that he had “left unattended during the campaign (a neglect that had left him more or less broke).”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 27 , Feb 15, 2007


Barack Obama on Personal History

Being president doesn't change you--it reveals who you are

Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are--it reveals who you are.

You see, I've gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like. And I've seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones--the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer--the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.

And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.

Source: Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

OpEd: Pal Bill Ayres was a bomb-throwing terrorist

No one had accused Obama of guilt by association, but rather guilt of association--association with a bomb-planting, America-hating, flag-denigrating imbecile. Obama's pal Bill Ayers was cofounder of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground, which had bombed a dozen buildings, including the Pentagon, the US Capital, and various police stations. Ayers was utterly unrepentant, saying--in an interview published on Sept. 11, 2001--that he wished he had set more bombs. Those are facts. Obama's friends were not being "portrayed" as "bomb-throwing terrorists." They WERE bomb-throwing terrorists.

Nor as Obama and his adoring media claimed, were Ayers and his wife, fellow Weatherman Bernadine Dohrn, just people who happened to live in his neighborhood: They were there at the inception of Obama's political career, hosting a fundraiser for Obama at their home back in 1995. Obama served with Ayers on the board of the radical Woods Fund, long after Ayers's 2001 wish that he had set more bombs

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 89-90 , Nov 10, 2009

Developed style & attitude based on exposure to pop culture

For Obama, TV, movies, and radio supplied "an arcade of images from which you could cop a walk, a talk, a step, a style." Along with books, he also consulted these sources for information about the sixties--information that differed from the facts and stories his mother had shared. In "The Audacity of Hope", he discusses how such exposure to pop culture helped him cop not only a walk and a talk but an attitude as well.

"If I had no immediate reasons to pursue revolution, I decided nevertheless that in style and attitude I, too, could be a rebel, unconstrained by the received wisdom of the over-thirty crowd," he writes. He sounds as if he could have easily fit in with the youthful multitudes bustin' a move.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 26 , Jan 20, 2009

1970s: Teen basketball player & fan of Julius "Dr. J" Erving

Obama recalled in his memoir, "I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America. And beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant." As a part of his youthful, 70s-era explorations of black identity, Obama began to play basketball. Without necessarily intending to, he developed a love of the game. "He didn't know who he was until he found basketball," his brother-in-law Craig Robinson has said. "It was the first time he really met black people."

Basketball, as much as anything, helped challenge conventional notions of black masculinity in particular. Obama said, "Growing up in Hawaii without a father, without a large Africa American population, here is a place where being black was not a disadvantage. Here is a sport in which we were dominant. All those things contributed to the idea that there was something special about it." Back then, a poster of Julius "Dr. J." Erving, soaring in for a dunk, graced Obama's bedroom wall.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 64-65 , Jan 20, 2009

Favorite movie: “The Godfather”, for respect & family

Q: What is your favorite movie of all time?

A: Obama: Oh, I think it would have to be “The Godfather.” One and Two. Three not so much. That saga--I love that movie.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene?

A: I think my favorite has to be, the opening scene of the first “Godfather” where, where the caretaker comes in and, you know, Marlon Brando is sitting there and he’s saying “you disrespected me.” You know “and now you want a favor.” It sets the tone for the whole movie.

Q: And all hell breaks lose, right?

A: Yeah, right. I mean there’s this combination of old world gentility and ritual, with this savagery underneath. It’s all about family. So it’s a great movie. “Lawrence of Arabia.” Great film. One of my favorites--and then “Casablanca.” Who doesn’t like “Casablanca?”

Q: I asked for one!

A: I’m a movie guy. I can rattle off a bunch of movies. But that “Casablanca,” you know.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric , Sep 23, 2008

Visited Africa 3 times; 1986, then 1992 & 2006 with Michelle

How many times did Obama visit Africa? Even on that question the autobiography is cloudy.

"Obama has been in Africa three times," his uncle Sayid insisted. "The first time was in 1986. Then he came again in 1992, when he was collecting material for his autobiography. Then the last time was 2006, when he visited Kenya as a US senator."

In his autobiography, Obama does not disclose clearly the date of the trip to Kenya he discusses, nor does he make clear that he took two separate trips before the autobiography. Rather, we are presented with what evidently is a composite of experiences from both trips, without any way of knowing which related experiences came when.

"The trip in 2006 was the second time Obama came with his wife," Sayid further specified. "He first came with her in 1992, when they were getting ready to get married. Then he visited with her as his wife in 2006." Nowhere in the autobiography does Obama disclose that his wife-to-be accompanied him to Africa on the 1992 trip.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 20-23 , Aug 1, 2008

In no other country is my story even possible

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived the Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during WWII and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America, and I’ve lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners, an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional of candidates. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts; that out of many, we are truly one.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.216-7 , Mar 18, 2008

“Dreams From My Father” is an archetypal search

If there is a single archetypal theme that animates Barack Obama’s early life, it would have to be “the search for the father.” Of course, there is something of this quest in everyone’s life. Some sort of coming to terms with the father is one of the way human beings construct their personalities.

In literature, search-for-the-father stories always begin in the normal childhood illusion that the father will always do two things: provide for our basic needs, and interpret for us the frightening world. And then come the inevitable existential shock that strips away all illusion. We get an epiphany: we are alone, and our manhood pr womanhood requires that we stand alone and learn to interpret the world for ourselves.

Archetypal themes, if only metaphorically, point to eternal truths. Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father” chronicles his search for his father [who was mostly absent]. He necessarily becomes an obsession in ways that real and present fathers never do.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 18-21 , Dec 4, 2007

Obama REPRESENTS something; doesn’t have to DO anything

Can a black ask for power without reassuring whites that they will be given the benefit of the doubt? Is real power possible for blacks without some negotiation?

What gave Obama the idea that he could run for president? Was it that he had evolved a compelling vision for the nation grounded in deeply held personal convictions? Or was it that he had simply become aware of his power to enthrall whites?

Obama is not a conviction politician. His supporters do not look to him to do something; they loo to him to be something, to represent something.

Obama emerged into a political culture that needed him more as an icon than as a man. But this easy appeal has also been his downfall. It is a seduction away from character and conviction.

The challenge is to achieve visibility an individual, to become an individual rather than a cipher. Unless we get to know who he is--what beliefs he would risk his life for--he could become a cautionary tale, an iconic figure who neglected to become himself.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.129&133-134 , Dec 4, 2007

Won Grammy for recording “Dreams from My Father”

No politician of our time has a more compelling identity resume, as delineated in “Dreams from My Father.” If nothing else, this deeply affecting book, published in 1995, when he was beginning to consider running for office, positions Obama as the most literary politician since... since when? (He is also the first presidential candidate to win a Grammy, for his recording of the book).

As an image-building tool, “Dreams from My Father” has been remarkably effective. But it is too unorthodox to serve as a press release. Not only are there damning references to coke sniffing and dope smoking, but the book also offers a detailed account of his gnawing ambivalence as a young man growing up in a double bind.

When he embarks for Kenya to meet his African family he sees himself as “a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers... I felt as if I were living out someone else’s romance.”

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 63 , Nov 11, 2007

First major politician of the post-Baby Boom generation

Obama says he looks at “some issues differently as a consequence of being of a slightly different generation,” but there is no strong generational identity in the wake of the boomers, and what Obama calls for is not so much a repudiation of the 1960s generation as a fulfillment of some of its ideals.

Obama suggested he may have “a particular ability to bring the country together around a pragmatic, commonsense agenda for change that probably has a generational element to it as well. America is ready for new challenges. This is our time. A new generation is prepared to lead.“ He promised a new kind of politics instead of the ”24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad bickering, small-minded politics that doesn’t move us forward.“

As the first major politician of the post-baby boomer era, Obama appeals to Gen-Xers who have lived in the shadow of baby boomers and have faced the accusation that those who grew up in the 1970s & early 1980s were self-centered and indifferent to social causes

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 2 , Oct 30, 2007

Most decisive moment: transition from high school to college

Q: Presidential biographers are always looking at the turning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went on the path to the presidency, the decisive moment. What’s the decisive moment in your life?

A: A decisive moment in my life was the transition from high school to college, because I had gone through a difficult time, not knowing my father, and was, at times, an angry young man. And partly because of the values my mother had instilled in me, those were reawakened in college. And it made me serious about, not just what I could do for myself, but what I could do for other people. It’s what led me to become a community organizer. It’s what led me to go into public service. And ultimately, it’s what led me to this stage.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

High school jock--played football as defensive lineman

[A school friend] said Obama was much larger than most of his peers. Indeed, photos of him in his high school yearbook show a much heavier boy

As a high school freshman, he played defensive line on the football team and was described as a strong lineman, “a real people mover.”

Even with his mother gone, [his grandmother] Madelyn said, Barry was essentially a well-behaved teen who spent most of his time involved in sports. “He was a jock,” she said.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 42-43 , Aug 14, 2007

Goal as youth: Leave the world a better place

Obama’s maternal grandmother said, “when he was a young man, I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said, ‘I want to leave the world a better place than when I came in.’ And I believe that has been his guiding light.”

Obama, without argument, is imbued with an abiding sense of social and economic justice. He is an earnest, thoughtful, occasionally naive man who has a strong sense of moral purpose, a trait driven into him by his ardently progressive mother.

But Obama is far more complex than just a crusading dreamer aiming to “give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless,” in his own oft-spoken words. He is an exceptionally gifted politician who, throughout his life, has been able to make people o

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 , Aug 14, 2007

Planned on presidency since well before 2004 Convention

He’s always wanted to be president, a close friend of Obama’s, would confide shortly after his 200 Boston Convention speech. “And I’m not sure that he’s even still fully admitted it to himself.” The journey toward that admission finally arrived while he vacationed in his native Hawaii in December 2006.

In just a couple of years, he rose from obscure state lawmaker to national celebrity pursued by paparazzi on his family vacation. He struggled through a self-described “painful year” of just 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night in order to write a best-selling book that would assure his family’s financial security & nurture his burgeoning political career. He would be discussed endlessly in the mainstream and alternative media as potentially the first African American to hold the Oval Office. He became a prideful and iconic symbol for millions of black Americans; and he would secure his role as a major national voice for Democrats.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 , Aug 14, 2007

Dreams from My Father originally about Harvard Law Review

Obama’s book, originally published in 1995, was called Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.“ As the title suggests, the book chronicled Obama’s life & search for identity in relation to his East African father.

This wasn’t the book Obama originally sold to his publisher. He had pitched them a work about his experience as the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. After all, at the time, Obama was a modest 33 years old, and his Law Review presidency was his only claim to any modicum of fame.

When Obama began writing, an autobiographical memoir poured forth. Upon its release in 1995, the book sold a few thousand copies, generated mostly positive reviews, and then it faded into obscurity.

That changed dramatically when Obama shot to national fame in 2004. The publisher quickly ran off several new printings, promoted it vigorously, and the book landed on the best-seller lists, giving Obama the first shot of financial wealth in his life.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 14-15 , Aug 14, 2007

Favorite authors: E. L. Doctorow & Shakespeare

Obama began reading voraciously in college. He had harbored some thoughts of writing fiction as an avocation, although it’s an open question whether he seriously considered fiction writing as a full-time profession. Obama himself said he never dabbled in fiction, but others dispute that.

When I asked Obama to name his favorite author, he cited E. L. Doctorow, the critically acclaimed novelist and outspoken political liberal. The next day, during a phone conversation on a different matter, he made it a point to say that he wanted to change his answer--to William Shakespeare.

Some politicians are infamous for casually mentioning high-minded work that is currently on their nightstand in order to give the impression of being a deep thinker. It is difficult to imagine most politicians digesting Shakespeare before extinguishing the bedroom light. Yet Obama’s erudite nature and his own ambitious writings made that answer seem quite plausible.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 15 , Aug 14, 2007

To understand Obama, understand Hawaii’s cultural mix

Obama’s wife, Michelle, advised me, “There’s still a great deal of Hawaii in Barack,” she said. “You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.” In fact, the Obamas still make an annual sojourn to Honolulu every Christmas season.

Hawaii’s has grown considerably since Obama’s youth, but the essence of the islands’ mix of various Asian, Polynesian and Western cultures has persevered. Meeting Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii, opened my eyes to Obama’s formative years. The atmosphere of [Obama’s school] campus gave me a sense of the unflappable Hawaiian nature at Obama’s core.

The night of his Senate primary victory, for example, reporters marveled curiously at Obama’s exceptionally cool exterior as others around him exhibited jubilation. One of Obama’s greatest talents is that, even in the midst of chaos, he has the ability to project serenity. Hawaii, if not fully responsible, most certainly contributed heavily to this trait.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 20-21&37 , Aug 14, 2007

Met Michelle Robinson at law firm; married in 1990

Barack Obama seemed to know almost immediately upon meeting Michelle Robinson that she was his choice for a spouse; the young Miss Robinson was far less sure about her future husband.

She thought it would be improper to date an employee she was assigned to train. In addition, they were the only two African Americans at the law firm. “I thought, ‘Now how would that look?’ ” Michelle said. “Here we are, the only two black people here, and we are dating. I’m thinking that looks pretty tacky.”

Michelle tried to set up Obama with a friend, but he showed no interest in anyone but her. Eventually, she relented and agreed to a date. When Obama married Michelle in 1990, he also married into her budding network among Chicago’s community of successful white-collar African Americans.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 93-94&102 , Aug 14, 2007

A reformed smoker but occasionally burns one

I’m a reformed smoker; I think that surprises people. I quit, but then during the campaign, when you’re in a car driving through cornfields, occasionally I bum a cigarette or two. But I did all my drinking in high school and college. I was a wild man. I did drugs and drank and partied. But I got all my ya-yas out.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 23 , Mar 27, 2007

Personal story is basis of political desire to unite

Obama’s story--of how, as he likes to say, “a tall, skinny kid with big ears,” who came from nowhere in the continental US, who grew up in Hawaii, forever an outsider, a black kid abandoned at age two by his father, and, for long periods, his mother, raised by her parents in a white neighborhood and looked at askance by all of a more definable hue and tribe, who struggled mightily to find an identity and purpose in life, who never really got to know his father until he was in his 20s and stood by his unmarked grave in a dusty African village, has risen to become a candidate for president and a voice whose call for a union undivided by liberal and conservative, red state and blue, or black and white, springs from his own struggles to find a way to united his own divided heart--seems all the more unlikely.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 34 , Feb 15, 2007

First black president of the Harvard Law Review

Obama, a law professor and state senator, has widespread appeal and a compelling story: His father was a member of Kenya’s Luo tribe, born on the shores of Lake Victoria. He met Obama’s mother, who was white, when both were students at the University of Hawaii.

When Obama was 2, his father left the family, returning to Kenya, where he eventually became a senior economist in the Ministry of Finance. Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School. He became the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

He worked as a community organizer in New York and Chicago on job-training programs and other projects, and as a civil rights lawyer. He is now a senior instructor in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Source: Associated Press in Boston Herald , Jul 14, 2004


Barack Obama on Racism & Race

OpEd: Jackson & Sharpton were articulate black predecessors

Biden was quoted in N.Y. Observer saying about the appeal of Obama: "You got the first mainstream African American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

"Articulate" and "clean"? A black man? Was Biden being condescending? Or sarcastic? Or just plain insensitive? Biden tried to explain: "What I was attempting to be, and not very artfully, is complimentary. The word that got me in trouble is using 'clean.' I should have said 'fresh'; he's got new ideas."

Later Biden again said he deeply regretted any offense about the "articulate" and "clean" comments and had so told Obama, who was less than gracious in response. "I didn't take Sen. Biden's comments personally," he said, "but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.375-378 , Oct 5, 2010

OpEd: Elections of underclass occurred in many countries

Reactions to Obama's election commonly adopted Obama's soaring rhetoric [such as one reporter saying], "In no other country in the world is such an election possible."

The rhetoric may have some justification if we keep to the West, but elsewhere matters are different. Consider the world's largest democracy, India. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, which is notorious for horrifying treatment of women, is not only a woman but a Dalit ("untouchable"), at the lowest rung of India's caste system.

And Consider Haiti: In Haiti's first democratic election in 1990, grassroots movements were organized in the slums and hills, and though without resources, elected their own candidate, the populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The results astonished observers who expected an easy victory for the candidate of the elite. True, this victory for democracy was soon overturned by a military coup, but the victory itself was a far more "extraordinary example of democracy" than the miracle of 2008.

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.213 , Jun 1, 2010

New Yorker cover: Islamic garb & fist-bumping Michelle

An uproar surrounded the July 21 issue of the "New Yorker": Its cover featured a cartoon depicting a newly elected Obama in the Oval Office. He was shown dressed in a costume with vague Islamic stylings. Beside him stood Michelle, garbed in camo pants & combat boots, sporting an Afro and a sash made of bullets. An assault weapon strapped to her back, she exchanged fist bumps with her husband while an American flag burned in a nearby fireplace. A portrait of Osama bin Laden smiled (or glared?) from an adjacent wall.

The New Yorker's editor appeared baffled by the protests. "It's clearly a joke," he said, "A parody of these crazy fears and rumors and scare tactics about Obama's past and ideology."

Obama's campaign staff was happy to fill in. "The New Yorker may think that their cover is a satirical lampoon. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

The user comments following articles about the controversy spelled out the potential for distortion in stark terms.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 48-50 , Jan 20, 2009

Am I somehow responsible for fate of entire black race?

Occasionally included among the inspirational portraits were images of a gaunt, fatigued Barack Obama, shots that provided some sense of the campaign's steep toll. One such photo showed Obama squatting in a stairwell; his expression suggested a desire to be somewhere else. Written above the photo: What must it feel like? To carry the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people on your shoulders?

The question, motivated by compassion, spoke to the enormous burden that the historic candidacy had imposed More than any other black candidate's quest for the presidency, Obama's had acquired a symbolism and intensity of feeling that cut across disparate categories of African American life. The photo and its bold caption recalled a scene in Obama's memoir in which a friend had questioned his values. He slumped on a sofa and lit a cigarette. He was depressed and angry about the way his friend had torn into him as if, he recalled, "I was somehow responsible for the fate of the entire black race."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.170-171 , Jan 20, 2009

No contradiction as black voice & constituent representative

Obama is poised to help usher in forms of black leadership that will supplement rather than supplant the old ways of doing business. In late 2005, he told his biographer, "I'm just the most prominent of a new generation of African-American voices. I have felt very comfortable speaking on issues that are of particular importance to the African-American community, without losing focus on my primary task, which is to represent all the people. And I haven't felt contradictions in that process."

21 years earlier, an essay in "Ebony" predicted, "Black politics is likely to be transformed in the way Blacks formulate and articulate their goals. The dynamics of presidential politics--and increasingly politics at other levels as well--will require Blacks to forgo race-specific articulation of policy objectives in favor of broader objectives that encompass Black goals."

Obama, as he himself suggested, is at the center of such a transformation. But its roots are various and have been growing for some time.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.204-205 , Jan 20, 2009

OpEd: March 2008 "race speech" reminder of ongoing struggle

In the oratorical tradition to which Obama belongs, black language is often prompted by brutal necessity--or, more precisely, as a response to brutality.

It is a tradition of speaking truth to power. It is a tradition of serving as the nation's conscience, of baring truths with unrestrained candor, as John Lewis did at the March on Washington in 1963. Obama, too, has issued painful, timely reminders. His March 18, 2008, Philadelphia address (aka the "race" speech) in response to the controversy stemming from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's remarks, for example, pulled no punches. Instead of merely assuaging white fears, he outlined a stark future made desolate by shallow jingoism and bait-and-switch political maneuverings. "We have a choice in this country," he argued. "We can tackle race only as a spectacle, or in the wake of tragedy, or as fodder for the nightly news. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And nothing will change."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.126-128 , Jan 20, 2009

March 2008 speech on race began with "We, the people"

The constitution opens with "We the people." Obama began his "race" speech with those same 3 all-important words. He reminded his listeners that the sacred document beginning with "We the people" was "stained by this nation's original sin of slavery." He went on to acknowledge the Americans of all racial backgrounds who fought and sacrificed because "words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens."

Obama's talk of validation and fulfillment echoed the sentiments of Martin Luther King Jr., whose oratory Obama's resembles in tone and intellectual flavor more than in any other aspects. "In the absence of Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson Jr. has noted, "the void was filled by Stokely Carmichael, James Bevel and Jesse Jackson. With all respect to my father, 40 years later, this is the first time we have gotten back to a very thoughtful and careful approach to language."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.130 , Jan 20, 2009

Speaks about racial anxiety from personal experience

Here is Obama casually sharing a reverie about race: "I imagine the white southerner who growing up heard his dad talk about niggers this & niggers that but who has struck up a friendship with the black guys at the office & is trying to teach his own son different, who thinks discrimination is wrong but doesn't see why the son of a black doctor should be admitted to law school ahead of his own son. Or the former Black Panther who decided to go into real estate, bought a few buildings in the neighborhood, & is just as tired of the drug dealers in front of those buildings as he is of the bankers who won't give him a loan to expand his business.

Deconstruct those two sentences. Yes, there is plenty of ugliness in America's racial history; blacks & whites alike have legitimate anxieties about race; redemption is always possible. This is a narrative that speaks to American life as it is lived. It conveys genuine empathy. It is intuitive Obama. No pollster or speechwriter could have composed that passage.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 8-9 , Aug 25, 2008

1995: Participated in Million Man March

The year 1995 was a banner one for Obama. He had just married Michelle and the couple bought a Hyde Park condo, the first home Obama ever owned. In 1995, Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, was published, to modest sales but good reviews. He was teaching constitutional law as a University of Chicago adjunct professor and was about to run for the state senate. In 1995, Obama also participated in Farrakhan's Million Man March, a fact he has omitted from his 2008 presidential campaign biography.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.145 , Aug 1, 2008

Apocryphal story: race awareness began with skin-bleach ad

Obama claims he came across a picture in Life magazine of "the black man who tried to peel off his skin." Evidently the man had tried to lighten his skin with a chemical process & the result was a disaster. The experience caused Obama to feel the moment of self-doubt he suggests comes to every black child in America "undergoing similar moments of revelation." Obama began noticing there was no one black in the Sears-Roebuck Christmas catalog.

The only problem is that Life reported no such issue ever existed. Obama suggested it might have been Ebony. Ebony's archivists could find no such article, either.

Skin-lightening chemicals had been marketed to African-Americans for decades. Obama didn't have to get the idea from an article in Life. The story of Life magazine is apocryphal at best. At any rate, the memory of the event/nonevent is so firmly planted in Obama's mind that it seems to have become an emotional truth for him, as equally powerful psychologically as a real experience.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 65-66 , Aug 1, 2008

Taking a black candidate for granted is measure of progress

Q: What did your daughters say to you [upon Hillary’s concession]? Did they take it as a matter of course that Daddy could be nominated to be president? They never knew what older people know in terms of discrimination.

A: Well, Michelle had a conversation with Malia, who’s our 9-year-old. Michelle said, “You know, Daddy’s about to be nominated for the presidency, and he’ll be the first African American ever to have that happen.” And Malia said, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me. I’ve read these histories about how blacks were discriminated against with slavery and Jim Crow,“ and she sort of ticked it off. But you could tell that there wasn’t that emotional impact on her because she has grown up in this environment where she can take it for granted. And the fact that they’re taking it for granted is a measure of progress in our country. It says something really good about America. It’s a testament to this country’s urge to live up to its ideals, as imperfectly as that is sometimes.

Source: ABC News: 2008 election interview with Charlie Gibson , Jun 4, 2008

Epiphany at age 21 settled his racial identity

Obama spent his first years in college having a good time. He studied, but not too seriously. He dabbled in politics. He started down the same road of withdrawal and anger he had traveled in Honolulu. Then after a long night of smoking, drinking, and listening to Billie Holiday, he considered challenges thrown at him by some of his peers at the college, and had an epiphany. "I rose from the couch and opened my front door, the pent-up smoke trailing me out of the room like a spirit.... Who told you that being honest was a white thing? they asked me. Who sold you this bill of goods, that your situation exempted you from being thoughtful or diligent or kind, or that morality had a color? You've lost your way, brother."

As his father had done at a similar age, Obama, perhaps aware that the chips were down, now threw himself into his studies. At this point, he decided to try to become a community organizer, to help bring about change in black communities through grassroots efforts.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 14-16 , Apr 1, 2008

We’ve never really worked through complexities of race

Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America: to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through--a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.222 , Mar 18, 2008

Intertwined search for father and racial identity

[In “Dreams From My Father”, Obama comes close to saying] that Obama sought racial identity in his father and a father in racial identity. [In his crisis of identity, Obama writes], “You must help in your people’s struggle! Wake up, black man!”

The father and black identity are virtually interchangeable as objects of Obama’s personal search. The young Obama experienced both his father and his racial identity as absences, while most people enjoy these same things as birthrights.

When Barack Obama is called a “Halfrican,” the point is not simply that he comes from a mixed-race background; it is also that he is a kind of phony, a pretender to blackness. For racially mixed blacks, the search for “authentic” blackness is also a search for personal credibility and legitimacy. Our era of intense identity politics means that such people live under a permanent accusation of inauthenticity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 26-28 , Dec 4, 2007

Rooted in African-American community but also more than that

[Obama’s racial] vulnerability was probed in a “60 Minutes” interview near the launching of his presidential campaign. There was an allusion to the mixed-race background and a question how Obama saw himself.

He was “rooted,” he said, in the African- American community, but he was also “more than that.” This is the formulation of a man with a complex identity trying to make himself more recognizable to a society not used to pondering his like. Yet, this is also a formulation that reduces Obama’s identity to a banality. What could “rooted” or “more than that” mean? For that matter, what could “African-American community” really mean? A culture? A politics?

To become recognizable, he processes himself through the same dumb racial math-- he is one thing plus something else--that has been the source of his vulnerability. He collaborates with the racial conventions that made him an odd man out. Yet a great part of Obama’s appeal in broader America can be chalked up to his complex identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 6-7 , Dec 4, 2007

In college, rejected multiracialism for black identity

Joyce was a woman Obama encounters in college just as his is launching an all-out crusade to realize his black identity. Like Obama, Joyce is from a mixed-race background. Obama asks her if she is going to a Black Student Association meeting. She looks at him and then says, “I am not black. I’m multi-racial.”

Joyce opposes blackness out of the same determination to claim an identity that drives Obama to embrace blackness. Obama is determined to distance himself from her & his own mainstream American past. Joyce represents a remarkable new option in American life. Joyce says that whites are “willing to treat me like a person.” Blacks are “the ones who are telling me I can’t be who I am.”

Joyce is Obama’s troublesome doppelganger as he grinds through the self-betrayals that help him belong to blackness. What you want, she murmurs--the chance to be yourself, self-acceptance--is not with blackness; it is in the same mainstream you came from.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 45-48 , Dec 4, 2007

Fans see Obama as opportunity to vote for redemption

The first binding reality for Obama is that his cachet is tied to his status as an iconic Negro. The disciplines of bargaining are a basic element of Obama’s policies. He labors to sell himself as an “optimistic sign from the racial front,” as a harbinge of a new America in which the old divisions of race are transcended. As one fan put it at a recent rally, he is “the guy America is waiting for.” So, you don’t vote for Obama because of his policy positions on health care and school subsidies; he is an opportunity to vote for American redemption.

Obama is bound to the antiresponsibility political left because his fate depends on his ability to offer innocence to whites--this despite the fact that he clearly seems to accept the importance of individual responsibility in social reform. Yet he offers no thinking on how to build incentives to responsibility into actual social policy.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.116-117 , Dec 4, 2007

Veiled racism in dismissing Obama as “unqualified”

There’s a veiled racism in some of the claims that Obama isn’t qualified to be president. It’s something African-Americans are accustomed to hearing from less-qualified whites who think the black guy is getting the attention and the applause because of his race.

One pundit wrote: “There is nothing he can do to address his major shortcoming: the absence on his resume of the kind of major achievement that qualifies a person for the White House.” Of course, Obama has many achievements, and it is hard to find a major achievement of most senators running for president.

Obama’s experiences challenge the conventional wisdom of the establishment. Obama is a different kind of outsider. He is an outsider accustomed to working with legislators from the other party, and an outsider committed to pragmatic solutions.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 50-51 , Oct 30, 2007

Catching a cab, no one questions he’s “authentically black”

Q: Editorials about you never fail to mention the issue of race, that you’re not authentically black enough. How will you address these critics?

A: You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan--in the past, I think I’ve given my credentials. But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem. But I do believe in the core decency of the American people, and I think they want to get beyond some of our racial divisions. Unfortunately, we’ve had a White House that hasn’t invested in the kinds of steps that have to be done to overcome the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in this country. And as president, my commitment on issues like education, my commitment on issues like health care is to close the disparities and the gaps, because that’s what’s really going to solve the race problem in this country.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

America’s race and class problems are intertwined

Whether because of New York’s density or because of its scale, it was only [there] that I began to grasp the almost mathematical precision with which America’s race and class problems joined; the bile that flowed freely not just out on the streets but in the stalls of Columbia’s bathrooms as well, where, no matter how many times the administration tried to paint them over, the walls remained scratched with blunt correspondence between niggers and kikes.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.254 , Aug 1, 1996

There is some hope of eventual reconciliation between races

If Malcolm X’s discovery toward the end of his life, that some whites might live beside him as brothers in Islam, seemed to offer some hope of eventual reconciliation, that hope appeared in a distant future, in a far-off land. In the meantime, I looked to see where the people would come from who were willing to work toward this future and populate this new world.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 80 , Aug 1, 1996

Racism wasn’t merely the cruelty involved, but arrogance too

The older woman in my grandparents’ apartment building who became agitated when I got on the elevator behind her & ran out to tell the manager that I was following her; her refusal to apologize when she was told that I lived in the building. Our assistant basketball coach, a young, wiry man from New York with a nice jumper, who, after a pick-up game with some talkative black men, had muttered within earshot of me and three of my teammates that we shouldn’t have lost to a bunch of niggers; and who, when I told him to shut up, had calmly explained the apparently obvious fact that “there are black people, and there are niggers. Those guys were niggers.” It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 75 , Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Religion

Suspected by opponents of being Muslim, Communist, & Nazi

Nowhere are Tea Party fears more profoundly symbolized than in the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. The policies and person of the 44th President were the subject of immense suspicion at every Tea Party event or interview we attended. Several interviewees dated their concerns about the country and national politics to Obama's election or the 2008 campaign.

The freewheeling anti-Obama paranoia expressed at the Tea Party rallies has been widely reported. Obama is perceived by many Tea Partiers as a foreigner, an invader pretending to be an American, a 5th columnist. Obama's past as a community organizer is taken as evidence that he works on behalf of the undeserving poor and wishes to mobilize government resources on their behalf. His academic achievements and social ties put him in league with the country's intellectual elite, whose disdain feels very real to many Americans, and whose cosmopolitan leanings seem unpatriotic.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 77-79 , Jan 2, 2012

OpEd: installed secularism as America's state religion

At the 2009 inaugural, Obama repudiated the notion that America is a Christian nation: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers." For the first time, a president had denied the primacy of Christianity in America. The Supreme Court had declared in 1892, "This is a Christian nation." The President was now declaring in his inaugural that we had ceased to be so. The age of Obama marks the advent of post-Christian America.

The Obama inauguration symbolized the dilution and decline of a once-muscular Christianity that had guided American public life for two centuries. Obama's White House enlisted in a long and successful campaign to expel Christianity from the public square, diminish its presence in our public life, and reduce its role to that of just another religion. Cultural power in America long ago passed to an anti-Christian elite that rules the academy, Hollywood, and the arts. Secularism is now America's state religion and the people sense it.

Source: Suicide of a Superpower, by Pat Buchanan, p. 46-49 , Oct 18, 2011

OpEd: Wrote glowingly of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's first sermon

Just a few weeks before Jeremiah Wright's greatest hits collection hit the airwaves, Obama had said, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial." But normal people were appalled by Obama's reverend damning America, denouncing "white arrogance," and saying American deserved 9/11, Obama distanced himself from whatever voters didn't like, saying, "All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn."

And yet in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote admiringly of the 1st sermon he heard the Reverend Wright give, in which the pastor blamed "white folks' greed" for "a world in need." Obama said of this talk, "I felt the tears running down my cheek." Indeed, he was so moved by the "white folks' greed" sermon, he joined the church immediately and even used the name of Wright's sermon, "The Audacity of Hope," as the title of his 2nd book.

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 87 , Nov 10, 2009

First American president not raised in a Christian home

If Obama ascends to the presidency, he will be the first American president to do so having not been raised in a Christian home. Instead, he spent his early years under the influence of atheism, folk Islam, and a humanist's understanding of the world that sees religion merely as a man-made thing, as a product of psychology. It is this departure from tradition in Obama's early years that makes both his political journey and his religious journey so unusual and of such symbolic meaning.
Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Religious Left calls Obama "called" and "anointed"

The same Bobby Rush who had once described Obama [during their 1999 Congressional race against each other] as a man "blinded by ambition" came, in time, to a different view. After Obama entered the US Senate, Rush said, "I think that Obama's election to the Senate was divinely ordered. I'm a preacher. I know that was God's plan. Obama has certain qualities. I think he is being used for some purpose."

Rush is not alone in this. Increasingly, words such as called, chosen, and anointed are being used of Obama. Though these terms have long belonged to the native language of the Religious Right, they are now becoming the comfortable expressions of an awakened Religious Left, of a faith-based Progressive movement. Moreover, they are framing the image of Barack Obama in the minds of millions of Americans.

Perhaps this is what comes from a need to paint politicians in messianic terms. Perhaps this is what comes, in part, from a people believing themselves a chosen nation.

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Grandmother raised as strict Methodist, but saw hypocrisy

The story of the religious influences that have shaped Barack Obama is best begun with the novel faith of his grandmother, Madelyn Payne. She was born in 1922 to strict Methodist parents. There was no drinking, card playing, or dancing in the Payne household. There were, too, the petty tyrannies that often attend religion in a flawed world: people shunned one another, or lived lives at odds with the gospel.

These hypocrisies were not lost on Madelyn Payne. She would tell her grandson often of the "sanctimonious preachers" she had known and of the respectable church ladies with absurd hats who whispered hurtful secrets and treated those they deemed beneath them with cruelty. What injustice, she would insist, that men who sat on church boards should utter "racial epithets" and cheat the men who worked for them. Barack regularly heard such bitter sentiments in his grandparents' home, sentiments that profoundly shaped his early religious worldview.

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Mother raised in Unitarian Church with secular values

[Obama's grandparents] Stanley and Madelyn Dunham shed the quaint faith and suffocating values of rural Kansas. They had even begun attending East Shore Unitarian Church--often referred to in Seattle as "the little Red church on the hill"--for its libera theology and politics. Barack would later describe this as the family's "only skirmish into organized religion" and explain that Stanley "liked the idea that Unitarians drew on the scriptures of all the great religions," excitedly proclaiming, "It's like you get five religions in one!"

The Unitarian Affirmation of Faith does serve to hint at what the Dunhams accepted as true: "the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the leadership of Jesus, salvation by character, and the progress of mankind onward and upward forever." However, they were likely skeptics--Barack says that Madelyn espoused a "flinty rationalism"--regarding the divinity of Jesus, whom they would have accepted as one good moral teacher among many but certainly not a god.

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Mother declared herself an atheist during high school

Ann Dunham was already on a journey beyond the freethinking of her parents, and yet in keeping with the philosophical trends of her times. She had absorbed the broad spirituality and social vision of the East Shore Unitarian Church. Having begun with her parents' religious skepticism, Ann went even further and declared herself an atheist.

During after-school gab sessions in the coffee shops of Seattle, her friends began to realize how fully Ann had thought through her beliefs. "She touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she'd read about and could argue," remembers Dunham's best friend in high school. "She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn't." Another friend explains, "[Ann was] a fellow traveler.... We were liberals before we knew what liberals were."

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 , Aug 5, 2008

Obama's Trinity Church is based on black-liberation theology

On March 1, 2008, in an interview on Fox News, Rev. Jeremiah Wright got into a heated argument, charging that the co-host knew nothing about black-liberation theology because he had not read the writings of black theologians.

Wright was insisting that the inflammatory remarks in his sermons at Trinity United Church of Christ derived from years of teaching that had coalesced into a comprehensive theology known as "black-liberation theology." In other words, Wright was arguing that as off-the-wall as statements from his sermons might sound when taken out of context, those statements were consistent with the teachings of prominent black-liberation theologians.

Black-liberation theology is an inherently radical theology that owes its origins to radical black political thinkers, including Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X.

Deciding to be baptized in Trinity United, Obama had to comprehend he was joining a church whose principles were based on the black-liberation theology Rev. Wright professes.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.176-178 , Aug 1, 2008

Moved to & attended church in neighborhood he was organizing

The professional organizer who recruited Obama was known for using Saul Alinsky's technique of extensively interviewing pastors and active church members to identify salient community issues, concerned residents, and respected community leaders.

In explaining his success in organizing Chicago's Back of the Yards, Alinsky said, "the first thing I always do, is to move into the community as an observer, to talk to people and listen and learn their grievances and their attitudes." After being hired, Obama followed Alinsky's rules by moving into the Hyde Park-Kenwood area he had been assigned to organize.

Why did he decide to join Rev. Wright's controversial Trinity Church? Obama openly admits, in terms Alinsky would easily have understood, "I was drawn to the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change." Obama was made to understand that he could not ignore the African-American church if were to succeed as a community organizer.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.184-185 , Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Obama was born a Muslim, and is now a Christian

The Undisputed Facts about Obama's Religion: Obama's grandfather was a devout Muslim. He raised his family under Islam. He gave his son, Barack Hussein Obama, Senior, an Arabic-derived name. Barack Hussein Obama, Junior, took his Muslim father's name. We also know that most of Obama's father's siblings adhered to Islam.

When Obama was taken to Jakarta as a child, he initially attended a Roman Catholic school where someone registered his religion as Muslim.

Later, Barack moved to a state school in Jakarta, where he was again identified as a Muslim. He was given Islamic instruction. There was no evidence that Obama ever attended a school whose primary focus was religious, that is a madrasa.

The Bottom Line: Obama Was a Muslim, and Is a Christian: We do not know what baptismal record, if any, exist for Barack Obama. Obama now says he is a Christian, and therefore he is a Christian, although the date of his conversion and level of his commitment to Christian principles remains somewhat uncertain.

Source: Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, by Andy Martin, p. 42-44 , Jul 25, 2008

GovWatch: never a Muslim, but school listed him as Muslim

An anti-Obama web ad in June says: “Question: Was Barack Obama ever a Muslim? He says no, but records showed Obama was in school as a Muslim living in Indonesia and the Obama campaign can’t explain why. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Obama were a Muslim back then, but it does matter if he’s not telling the truth about it now.”

The ad is based on a seemingly solid fact, that Obama was “enrolled as a Muslim” in a Catholic school in Indonesia in 1967, when Obama was six years old. The ad misses out key facts: Obama was required to participate in the school’s Catholic rituals and pray four times a day. Teachers said that he was probably registered as a Muslim because this was the religion of his then-Indonesian step-father. More importantly, the same school ledger that listed Obama as “Muslim” also listed Obama as an Indonesian; gave an inaccurate name for his previous school; and made no mention of his mother. The campaign concludes that Obama “is not, and was never, a Muslim.” [We agree].

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis , Jun 13, 2008

In hard times, people take refuge in traditions, God & guns

Q: [to Obama]: Talking to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco, you said people in small towns get bitter, and they cling to guns & religion & antipathy toward people who are not like them. Now, you’ve said you misspoke. Do you understand that some people find that patronizing and think that you said actually what you meant?

OBAMA: I think there’s no doubt that I can see how people were offended. It’s not the first time that I’ve made a statement that was mangled up. It’s not going to be the last. But let me be very clear about what I meant: People are going through very difficult times right now. When people feel like Washington’s not listening to them, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion. They end up feeling “This is a place where I can find some refuge. This is something that I can count on.” They end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns, where traditions have been passed on.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008

I am a person of faith; and I reach out to people of faith

CLINTON: [about Obama’s comment that people in small towns get bitter and they cling to guns & religion]: I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of faith in times that are good and times that are bad. And I similarly don’t think that people cling to their traditions, like hunting and guns, when they are frustrated with the government. I just don’t believe that’s how people live their lives.

OBAMA: Hillary has been saying I’m elitist, out of touch, condescending. Let me be absolutely clear. It would be pretty hard for me to be condescending towards people of faith, since I’m a person of faith and have done more than most other campaigns in reaching out specifically to people of faith, and have written about how Democrats make an error when they don’t show up and speak directly to people’s faith. The same is true with respect to gun owners. I have large numbers of sportsmen and gun owners in my home state, and they have supported me precisely because I have listened to them.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008

Religion is foundational; not clinging nor elitist

Q: You said about people here in small towns suffering economic hardship, “It’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” It may have come across to many as you attacking their values or their religion, suggesting that people are “clinging” to religion.

A: Scripture talks about clinging to what’s good. My words may have been clumsy, but [I meant] religion is a foundation when other things aren’t going well. That’s true in my own life, through trials and tribulations.

Q: Hillary Clinton says you’re being elitist.

A: My entire trajectory, not just during this campaign, but long before, has been to talk about how Democrats need to get in church, reach out to evangelicals, link faith with the work that we do. The notion that somehow I am standing above that when that essentially describes much of what I’ve been doing over the last 20 years doesn’t make much sense.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Rev. Jeremiah Wright helped bring me to Christianity

Q: You have spoken about how your former pastor in Chicago, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was critical in helping bring you to Christianity and is like part of your family.

A: Well, I actually wrote about this in my second book “Audacity of Hope.” I had worked as an organizer on the South Side. The community was in difficult straits. I had been raised in a spiritual but nonreligious home. But as I’m doing this organizing, I started visiting some churches. Trinity United Church of Christ was one. I visited that church and found the ministries that they were doing on HIV/AIDS, and on prison ministries, and Rev. Wright’s sermons spoke directly to the social gospel, the need to act and not just to sit in the pews. I found that very attractive and ended up joining the church. Now, there’s been this notion that he was my spiritual adviser. You know, he’s been just my pastor--there are areas where we’ve disagreed. [But the recent uproar has been] both a distortion of who he is and what the church has been about.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Exposure to Islam taught me that Muslims can partner with us

Q: You are a Christian, but as a child you had more exposure to Islam than most Americans ever will. How did that shape you?

A: Well, I lived in Indonesia for 4-1/2 years when I was a child. The first school I went to in Indonesia was a Catholic school I then attended a public school, but the majority of the country was Muslim. And the brand of Islam that was being practiced in Indonesia at the time was a very tolerant Islam. The country itself was explicitly secular in its constitution. So what it taught me, and what it still teaches me, as I think about foreign policy now, is that Islam can be compatible with the modern world. It can be a partner with the Christian & Jewish & Hindu & Buddhist faiths in trying to create a better world. And so I am always suspicious of attempts to paint Islam with a broad brush because the overwhelming majority of the people of the Islamic faith are people of good will, as opposed to the overheated political rhetoric of assuming a clash of civilizations

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Kenyan grandfather converted to Christianity & then to Islam

The Obama family traces its modern lineage to Hussein Onyango Obama, a Kenyan member of the Luo tribe born in 1895 near Lake Victoria. Onyango was a restless man of ambition. He was one of the first in his village to wear western clothing, and served wit the British armed forces in World War I. He visited Europe & Sri Lanka as a soldier and briefly converted to Christianity, but abandoned it for Islam and added "Hussein" to his name following the war.

Senator Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was born in 1936, also near Lake Victoria, to Onyango's 2nd wife Akumu.

A pair of American teachers befriended Obama Sr. and helped him apply to US universities. In 1959 he secured admission, after many rejections, to the University of Hawaii to study economics: the institution's first African student.

Obama Sr. wore religion lightly. "Although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition," his son wrote.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2 , Apr 1, 2008

Barack's UCC church motto: Unabashedly Black & Christian

Barack found spiritual solace at the Trinity United Church of Christ, a South Side megachurch: in the community of its predominantly black congregation, and in the sermons of its minister Jeremiah Wright. Trinity--"Unabashedly Black & Unapologetically Christian" its motto--was the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a primarily white Protestant Christian denomination.

Wright, a former marine, built the church from 87 members in 1972 to over 8,500 by the 1980s. The congregatio included people of all races and more than a few celebrities, including television host Oprah Winfrey.

The Reverend, as Obama described him, was acutely aware of the challenges faced by African-Americans. The church he built, however, preached inclusion--and there Obama saw power. "By widening its doors to allow all who would enter, Trinity assured its members that their fates remained inseparably bound. It was a powerful program, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing," he concluded.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 22-23 , Apr 1, 2008

Father was raised Muslim but became an atheist

Obama, Sr. wore religion lightly. "Although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition," his son has written.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2 , Apr 1, 2008

Registered as Muslim at Catholic & secular Indonesian school

In 1963, Ann returned to college and divorced Barack's father. At the university she met Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian oil company manager. In 1967 he proposed, she graduated, and the three moved to his home on the outskirts of Jakarta. He learned to speak Indonesian and attended the local Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School. "The children of farmers, servants and low-level bureaucrats had become my friends, and together we ran the streets morning and night," he wrote later in his memoir.

Obama transferred to SDN Menteng 1, an elite secular public elementary school that served primarily middle- and upper-class children. He was the only foreigner.

For administrative purposes, Obama was registered as a Muslim at this school, as at the Catholic institution, because that was the religion of his stepfather. He learned about Islam for two hours each week. His mother did not belong to any denomination. His stepfather enjoyed alcohol and was not devout. Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 5-6 , Apr 1, 2008

I am a proud Christian who believes deeply in Jesus Christ

I am a proud Christian. When you don’t show up, if you’re not going to church, then you’re not talking to church folk. That means that people have a very right-wing perspective in terms of what faith means and of defining our faith. As somebody who believes deeply in the precepts of Jesus Christ, particularly treating the least of these in a way that he would, that it is important for us to not concede that ground. Because we can go after those folks and get them.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

Despite attack email, pledges Allegiance & uses Bible

Q: There is a lot of false information about you circulating on the Internet. One e-mail in particular alleges that you are trying to hide the fact that you are Muslim; that you took the oath of office on the Koran and not the Bible; that you will not pledge allegiance to the flag. How does your campaign combat this kind of thing?

A: First of all, let’s make clear what the facts are. I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the US Senate, when I’m presiding. But you know, in the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. Fortunately the American people are smarter than folks give them credit for. My job is to tell the truth, to be straight with the American people about my vision for where the country needs to go. If I’m doing that effectively, then I place my trust in the American people that they will sort out the lies from the truth and they will make a good decision.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas , Jan 15, 2008

Attends church with press, to dispel rumors that he’s Muslim

Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday confronted one of the persistent falsehoods circulating about him on the Internet. He went to church.

His attendance at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City, Iowa, with the news media in tow, was as much an observation of faith as it was a rejoinder to baseless e-mailed rumors that he is a Muslim and poses a threat to the security of the US. Obama did not address the rumors, but described how he joined Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago two decades ago while working as a community organizer. “I realized that Scripture and the words of God fit into the values I was raised in,” he told the congregation.

Obama regularly attends church, but seldom with reporters watching. He is known to invoke religious references in his speeches and has said he has a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. He often has said that religion has a place in public life and that faith and politics are not exclusively the domain of conservatives.

Source: Associated Press on FoxNews.com , Dec 17, 2007

Grandfather converted from Christianity to Islam

During a 1988 visit to Kenya, Barack also learned that his grandfather, who died in 1979, had been fiercely devoted to Islam. His devotion was described by one of his surviving wives, Sarah, and recorded by Barack in "Dreams".

"What your grandfather respected was strength. Discipline," Barack quoted the widow as telling him. "This is also why he rejected the Christian religion, I think. For a brief time, he converted, and even changed his name to Johnson. But he could not understand such ideas as mercy toward your enemies, or that this man Jesus could wash away a man's sins. To your grandfather, this was foolish sentiment, something to comfort women. And so he converted to Islam--he thought its practices conformed more closely to his beliefs."

Source: Meet the Next President, by Bill Sammon, p.129 , Dec 11, 2007

Joined church that emphasized a “Black Value System”

The terms of the “authentically black” identity are very clear: white obligation to blacks [because] blacks are structurally aggrieved even when no actual oppression is apparent. The point is not that Obama is a blind follower of this identity. Few black are. The point is that he is accountable to it.

Obama is vulnerable to these identity pressures because he needs to “be black.” Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ, a South Side black church with a “Black Value System,” focused on “Black freedom,“ the ”black community,“ & the ”black family.“ That he would join a church this steeped in blackness, with so many other churches available, only underscores his determination to be transparently black.

How can Obama sit every week in a church preaching blackness & not object that he was raised quite well, thank you, by three white Midwesterners? Obama is the kind of man who can close down the best part of himself to belong to this black church and, more broadly, to the black identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 51-54&69 , Dec 4, 2007

Uses prayer to take stock of his moral compass

Obama’s grandparents, with whom he lived during his adolescence, were skeptical Christians who became Unitarians. But it was Obama’s mother who provided him with “a working knowledge of the world’s great religions.”

Obama’s secular upbringing has shaped his approach to religion today: “My faith is complicated by the fact that I didn’t grow up in a particular religious tradition. When you come at it as an adult, your brain mediates a lot, and you ask a lot of questions.”

When Obama prays, he says, he is engaged in an “ongoing conversation with God.” But this conversation is not a delusional belief that a supernatural being is talking directly to him. Instead, Obama uses God as a way to check his own ego. He uses prayer to “take stock” of himself and maintain his “moral compass.” He has a conversation with God in order to ask himself, “Am I doing this because it’s advantageous to me politically or because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.134-138 , Oct 30, 2007

Reach out to faith community;faith has role in public square

Q: We’ve heard a lot of talk about Democrats courting the Christian evangelical vote. But there are no commandments saying do not rape, do not torture, or do not commit incest.

A: Yes, there are some inconsistencies and hypocrisy of people who mix religion and politics sometimes. I have said it’s important for Democrats to reach out to the faith community, and the reason is because 90% of Americans believe in God. It’s a source of values. It’s a source of their moral compass. And I know it’s a source of strength for me and my family. I think it’s important for us not to presume that faith has no part in the public square. Look at Martin Luther King, the abolitionists, the suffragettes. We have a long history of reform movements being grounded in that sense often religiously expressed that we have to extend beyond ourselves and our individual immediate self-interests to think about something larger.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Active in the Trinity faith community

Obama has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a Protestant Church in Chicago, for over 20 years. He, his wife Michelle & his daughters are active in the Trinity faith community.

Obama’s faith shapes his values, as it does for millions of Americans. As he said in a recent speech on faith and politics:

Our values should express themselves not just through our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques; they should express themselves through our government. Because whether it’s poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness--in the imperfections of man. And so long as we’re not doing everything in our personal and collective power to solve them, we know the conscience of our nation cannot rest.
Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, BarackObama.com “Flyers” , Aug 26, 2007

Carries Bible on campaign trail, & refers to it weekly

[Beginning in Chicago in the 1980s] Obama evolved from a questioner of religion to a practicing Christian. Along his Senate campaign trail, Obama would never fail to carry his Christian Bible. He would place it beside him, in the small compartment in the passenger side door of the SUV, so he could refer to it often. When I first questioned Obama about his religious faith and ever-present Bible in October 2004, he was uncharacteristically short in his responses. Obama, without fail, would mention his church and his Christian faith when he was campaigning in black churches and more socially conservative downstate Illinois communities.

But in speaking to a reporter, it seemed that he referred to his Bible [less often]. “It’s a great book and contains a lot of wisdom,” he said simply. He said he was drawn to Christianity because its main tenet of altruism and selflessness coincided with his own philosophies. His Christianity would be well received among blacks and some rural whites.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 76-77 , Aug 14, 2007

Embrace Christ as an ally

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ because you have sins to wash away--because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 15 , Mar 27, 2007

Source of his book title “Audacity of Hope” was a sermon

After Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago where he attended a rousing service at the South Side’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The sermon that Sunday spoke to the myriad hardships--from overdue electric bills to marital abuse and failed schools-- endured by those gathered there. The preacher identified the enemy common to all--despair--and its antidote--one without which no people would ever strive to create a better world. The sermon was called “The Audacity of Hope.” Obama never forgot it.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 67 , Feb 15, 2007

Raised secular, but with working knowledge of world religion

I was not raised in a religious household. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. However, in her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.

This spirit of hers guided me on the path I would ultimately take. It was in search of confirmation of her values that I studied political philosophy.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.202-4 , Oct 1, 2006

Baptized as an adult in the Trinity United Church of Christ

Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. The typical black sermon freely acknowledged that all Christians (including the pastors) could expect to still experience the same greed, resentment, lust, and anger that everyone else experienced. In the black community, the lines between sinner and saved were more fluid; the sins of those who came to church were not so different from the sins of those who didn’t, and so were as likely to be talked about with humor as with condemnation. You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world. You needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away-because you needed an ally in your difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings-that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world-that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be ba

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.207-8 , Oct 1, 2006

Religious concerns ok, if translated into universal values

Progressives might recognize the values that both religious & secular people share when it comes to the moral & material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I”, resonates in religious congregations across the country.

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square. To say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, mush of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

What our pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will--they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.216-219 , Oct 1, 2006

There’s a call to evangelize in politics

The nature of politics is you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes, that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is. The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” , Apr 5, 2004

I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state

I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you’d hear the [Muslim] prayer call. My mother was a deeply spiritual person. Her view always was that underlying these religions was a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself, but also for the greater good. I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” , Apr 5, 2004

Spent time in both Muslim and Catholic schools

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words. Sometimes the nun would catch me, and her stern look would force my lids back shut. But that didn’t change how I felt inside.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.142 , Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Scandals

Neighbor Bill Ayres admits 1970s violent radicalism

Bill Ayers lives in Obama's neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to schools together.

The radical 1960s SDS Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers had criminal charges dismisse because of prosecutorial misconduct. Today, Ayers likes to present himself as the "Distinguished Professor of Education" at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Still, in his 2001 book Fugitive Days, Ayers openly admits the role he played as a radical revolutionary leader. Ayers bombed the U.S. Capitol in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972 as part of his revolutionary antiwar activities.

The problem is Obama maintained the relationship with Ayers over many years because it was politically useful to Obama, especially as he first ran for political office from the impoverished, largely African-American South Side of Chicago.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.117-118 , Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Distances himself from 1970s radical Bill Ayres

In Chicago after his college years, Obama developed an extensive collection of radical leftist friends, mentors, and political associates. Obama used many of these political friends to advance his career in Illinois politics, in which leftism is a virtue Today, however, on the national front, in his run for president, these same friends have become politically inconvenient and potentially destructive. The way Obama distanced himself from Ayers is typical of how he has distanced himself from others in his Chicago past. Obama begins by denying that the association was meaningful, then argues that the views of the other person were never his own, and ends with a denunciation of the other person that somehow still does not completely cut the tie.

That presidential candidate Obama has to sever ties with so many key people in his past should alone raise questions about the character for the serious voter.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.118-121 , Aug 1, 2008

Tony Rezko: large contributor & active member of campaigns

The pattern of political corruption surrounding convicted Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko and Barack Obama is almost too complicated to follow. What can the Rezko scandal tell us about who Barack Obama truly is?

Rezko gave Obama his first political contribution, $2000 on July 13, 1995, when he learned Obama was going to run for Illinois state legislature. For a year Obama minimized his relationship with Rezko, telling reporters he only had dinner or lunch with Rezko once or twice a year. But when Chicago Sun-Times reporters finally confronted Obama in March 2008 for an extended interview in the newspaper offices, the senator changed his tune. "I've known him for 17 years," Obama finally admitted. "There were stretches of time where I would see hi once or twice a year. But, as I said, when he was involved in the campaign finance committees, then he was an active member." By saying Rezko was an "active member" of his campaigns, Obama acknowledged he relied upon Rezko to help him raise funds.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.152-154 , Aug 1, 2008

Tony Rezko helped Obama buy home in prestigious neighborhood

A prestige house across the street from Tony Rezko's came on the market. This new home would be suitable for the family of a US senator. The doctor who owned the property wanted to sell the vacant lot & the house at the same time. The list price just for the home was $1.95 million, outside the reach of the Obama family.

Rezko came up with a solution. His wife, Rita, bought the vacant lot at full price, permitting Obama and Michelle to negotiate buying the house for $1.65 million, a discount of $300,000 from the asking price. Rezko's wife closed on the vacant lot the same day the Obamas closed on the house. She paid $625,000 for the lot, the full asking price.

"Both actions would be clear violations of Senate ethics rules barring the granting or askin of favors," wrote the Wall Street Journal. The Boston Globe reported that Obama had asked for Rezko's advice in negotiating the deal--after all, Rezko was experienced with real estate--and Obama toured the house with Rezko before making an offer.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.165-166 , Aug 1, 2008

Segments of Wright sermons were "caricatures of the church"

On May 31, 2008, Obama announced he was leaving Reverend Wright's Trinity Church. Obama made it clear his decision was based primarily on considerations of political expediency: "We don't want to have to answer for everything that's stated in a church," Obama said, but specified, "I am not denouncing the church."

Obama implied that he was being treated unfairly in that the segments of sermons played in the media were "caricatures of the church," complaining that anyone would "accept those caricatures despite my insistence that's not what the church is about." He also persisted in distancing himself from Wright, "Some of the statements the [Wright] made were indefensible and deeply offensive."

Clearly, Obama hoped that by leaving the church, he woul end the controversy. At a minimum, he wanted to be able to wash his hands of any subsequent incidents. Yet, by not denouncing Wright and Trinity Church itself, Obama remains open to continuing criticism as further incidents develop.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.206 , Aug 1, 2008

Photographed without hand over heart during national anthem

A photograph published during the Iowa Democratic primary showed Obama standing onstage while the national anthem was being played. Surprisingly, Obama was the only one in the photo who did not have his right hand over his heart. Behind Obama, also standing, were Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton, both with their right hands over their hearts. A large American flag formed the backdrop. A blog cited federal law, subtly making the point Obama lacked respect: "During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart."

Obama explained, "I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner you sing!" Obama and his supporters may think it is not important to wear a flag lapel pin or to hold his right hand over his heart while the national anthem is played, but try explaining that to veterans.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.253-255 , Aug 1, 2008

I revere the American flag; I don’t refuse to wear flag pins

Q: I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen & policemen wear the flag. I want to know why you don’t.

A: I revere the American flag, and I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country. There’s no other country in which my story is even possible; somebody who was born to a teenage mom, raised by a single mother and grandparents from small towns in Kansas; who was able to get an education and rise to the point where I can run for the highest office in the land. I could not help but love this country for all that it’s given me. I did wear a flag pin yesertday when a veteran handed it to me, on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and distracts us from figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we make our economy better for the American people.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, refused to wear a flag pin, last year

Obama did a bit of historical rewriting regarding his previous statements on wearing a U.S. flag pin in his lapel. Obama said, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.”

Actually, in Oct. 2007, he said, “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m gonna try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.” In another interview, Obama said, “The truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.“

Conservative critics have attacked Obama repeatedly for these remarks and his lack of a flag pin. Recently, Obama accepted a lapel pin given to him a disabled Vietnam veteran. ”It means a lot coming from you,“ Obama said.

Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Philadelphia primary debate , Apr 16, 2008

Mar. 2008: Campaign uproar over Rev. Wright's anti-US sermon

Videotapes sold in the lobby of Trinity Church showed repeated denunciations of the US by Rev. Wright. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. The US, he said, shouldn't have been surprised by the 9/11 attacks. "We bombed Nagasaki, & we never batted an eye," he preached on Sept. 16 2001. Indeed, the former marine said, "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." Obama said he was not present when Wright gave the sermons at issue.

The uproar that resulted dominated campaign coverage for days and might have derailed Obama's campaign because it cut to core issues of race, national identity and politics.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 59 , Apr 1, 2008

FactCheck: Took Rezko’s donations, but never represented him

Clinton reminded voters of Obama’s relationship with a longtime contributor who is now under federal indictment, saying Obama was “representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.” Obama responded that “I did about five hours worth of work” with Antoin Rezko.

According to an investigation last year, Antoin Rezko was involved in developing at least 30 low-income housing buildings. A number of the buildings fell into disrepair, collecting housing code violations, and Rezko was sued on many occasions. Obama was associated with a law firm that represented the community groups working with Rezko on several deals. There’s no evidence that Obama spent much time on them, and he never represented Rezko directly. So it was wrong for Clinton to say he was “representing Rezko.”

Obama has known Rezko, however, for many years, and Rezko has been a major contributor and campaign fundraiser for him since Obama’s first campaign for the Illinois state Senate.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Dem. Debate , Jan 21, 2008

Gave away all Rezko “boneheaded” donations to charity

Obama’s longtime relationship with a Syrian-born realtor, Antoin Rezko, has dented his image. Rezko, now under federal indictment for favor-trading and fraud, was one of Obama’s first funders, and over the years he contributed about $150,000 to Obama’s various campaigns. Obama’s law firm represented Rezko, and as a state legislator he recommended the developer for state housing grants that netted Rezko and a partner $855,000 in fees. Obama didn’t seem to notice that a number of Rezko buildings in his low-income district failed.

Obama has given all the Rezko money currently in his larder to charity, and he has called the land deal [he made with Rezko for Obama’s personal home] “boneheaded,” putting it down to anxieties about purchasing a first home (though his family had previously lived in a Hyde Park condo). No one has alleged that Obama did anything illegal, but his slip-sliding response to questions about Rezko suggests that, should he succeed, he will not drive every pig from the trough.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 74-76 , Nov 11, 2007


Barack Obama on Voting Record

FactCheck: Ranked most liberal in Senate, based on 99 votes

Obama was asked about a recent ranking of senators by the National Journal that rated him the most liberal in 2007. He responded, “An example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate.”

Obama’s answer could mislead voters. Although we agree that rankings and labels sometimes don’t have much substance behind them, Obama cited just one of 99 Senate votes selected by National Journal’s reporters and editors for the study. The nonpartisan public policy magazine’s analysis was done according to a rigorous process the publication has been using since 1981. Most of the votes chosen had to do with the minimum wage, renewable energy, health insurance for children, immigration, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues on which it’s not too surprising to see a divide between liberals and conservatives. Clinton ranked 16th most liberal in the Senate

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview , Feb 11, 2008

Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), was scored by the Washington Post on the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. Their summary:
Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.
Overall, Democrats voted with their party 88.4% of the time, and Republicans voted with their party 81.7% of the time (votes Jan. 8 through Sept. 8, 2007).
Source: Washington Post, “US Congress Votes Database” , Sep 8, 2007

Biggest mistake was intruding in Terri Schiavo case

Q What is the most significant professional mistake you have made in the past four years?

A: Well, my wife may have a longer list. But professionally the biggest mistake that I made was when I first arrived in the Senate. There was a debate about Terri Schiavo, and a lot of us, including me, allowed Congress to intrude where it shouldn’t have. I should have fought more for making sure that families make those decisions and not bureaucrats and politicians.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted NO on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Member of Congressional Black Caucus.

Obama is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus:

On January 2, 1969, [three newly elected and six previously elected] African-American Members of Congress met as the Democratic Select Committee. On February 2, 1971 the group agreed to be known as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

The goals of the CBC are to positively influence the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation, and to achieve greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services. The Caucus has not only been at the forefont of issues affecting African-Americans, but has garnered international acclaim for advancing agendas aimed at protecting human rights and civil rights for all people. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus stands 38 members strong.

Upon her election as Chair of the CBC for the 107th Congress, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson expounded: “Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. The Caucus is committed to ensuring that the standard of living for minorities in America does not retrogress, but instead rises to meet the expectations of both our ancestors and our children. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers.”

Source: Congressional Black Caucus web site 01-CBC0 on Jan 6, 2001

Reject Bush's Florida electors due to election fraud.

Obama adopted the CBC press release:

There is overwhelming evidence of official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means that were used to produce George W. Bush’s false victory. The preponderance of the available evidence points to Vice President Al Gore as the actual winner of the most votes in Florida and he should have been awarded the state’s electoral votes.

Vice President Al Gore may have conceded his judicial contest, but that is irrelevant. There is not provision for the concession of candidates in the Constitution. There is, however, a process set out in law for Congress to consider challenges to electoral votes. The Congress, on behalf of all Americans, is the final judge of how much election fraud to accept.

The hearings held by the NAACP clearly showed that there were massive violations of the Voting Rights Act, and that tens of thousands of Floridians were denied due process when they were removed from the voter rolls without notice. Still others were intimidated by police checkpoints set up near polling places. In Miami-Dade and Broward, investigations by independent news organizations have found hundreds of ineligible persons who were allowed to vote. There clearly were significant inequities in assigning what turned out to be non-working voting machines to precincts that were heavily African-American in Miami-Dade. We would not tolerate any of these errors if they took place in some other country. Is our duty to our own country any less?

Millions of Americans have already expressed their public outrage at the myriad injustices which occurred in the making of George W. Bush’s mistaken victory. But public outrage is not enough. The laws of this country provide for the objection which we herein make on behalf of freedom, justice and democracy. We, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, therefore wholeheartedly object to the acceptance of the presidential electors from Florida.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC4 on Jan 6, 2001

Rated 100% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation.

Obama scores 100% by the AU on church-state separation

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.

Source: AU website 06n-AU on Dec 31, 2006

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