President Barack Hussein Obama II

President Barack Hussein Obama II

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling

By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza – P120612PS-0463 (direct link), Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (Public Domain)

File: President Barack Obama.jpg

Created: 6 December 2012

Barack Hussein Obama II (/bəˈrɑːk huːˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/) born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States from January 20, 2009, to January 20, 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to assume the presidency and previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois (2005–2008).

Obama was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, two years after the territory was admitted to the Union as the 50th state. Raised largely in Hawaii, he also spent one year of his childhood in the State of Washington and four years in Indonesia.

After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he became a civil rights attorney and a professor, teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. He represented the 13th district for three terms in the Illinois Senate  from 1997 to 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He received national attention in 2004 with his March primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, he was nominated for president a year after his campaign began and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. He was elected over Republican John McCain and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, accepting the award with the caveat that he felt there were others “far more deserving of this honor than I”.

During his first two years in office, Obama signed many landmark bills into law. The main reforms were the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often referred to as “Obamacare”, shortened as the “Affordable Care Act”), the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimulus amidst the Great Recession. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, he signed the Budget Control and the American Taxpayer Relief Acts. In foreign policy, he increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States–Russia New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi: Gaddafi was Killed by NATO-assisted forces, and he also ordered the military operation that resulted in the deaths of Osama bin Laden and suspected Yemeni Al-Qaeda operative Anwar Al-Awlaki.

After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013. During this term, he promoted inclusiveness for LGBT American. His administration filed briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges); same-sex marriage was fully legalized in 2015 after the Court ruled that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional in Obergefell. He advocated for gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, indicating support for a ban on assault weapons, and issued wide-ranging executive actions concerning climate change and immigration. In foreign policy, he ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, initiated sanctions against Russia following the invasion in Ukraine and again after Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba. Obama left office in January 2017 with a 60% approval rating and currently resides in Washington, D.C. Since then, his presidency has been favorably ranked by historians and the general public. He also had a high global approval rating, and the United States’ reputation saw a dramatic upward shift during his presidency.

Obama posing in the Green Room source: (en.wikipedia.org) of the White House with wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia, 2009

By Annie Leibovitz / Released by White House Photo Office – The Official White House Photostream [1], Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

Family and personal life

In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: “It’s like a little mini-United Nations”, he said. “I’ve got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I’ve got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher. Obama has a half-sister with whom he was raised (Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband) and seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father’s family—six of them living. Obama’s mother was survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham, until her death on November 2, 2008, two days before his election to the Presidency. Obama also has roots in Ireland; he met with his Irish cousins in Moneygall in May 2011. In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother’s family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He also shares distant ancestors in common with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, among others.

Obama and his wife Michelle at the Civil Rights Summit at the source: (LBJ Presidential Library), 2014

President of the United States of America Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014, in Austin, Texas

By Lauren Gerson – https://www.flickr.com/photos/lbjlibrarynow/13766164194/in/album-72157643287032294/, Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

Family and personal life

In June 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Robinson was assigned for three months as Obama’s adviser at the firm, and she joined him at several group social functions but declined his initial requests to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple’s first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha (“Sasha”), in 2001. The Obama daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. When they moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2009, the girls started at the Sidwell Friends School. The Obamas have two Portuguese Water Dogs: the first, a male named Bo, was a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy. In 2013, Bo was joined by Sunny, female.

United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, Sunday, 20 January 2013.

By Pete Souza – White House(P012013PS-0290), Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (Public Domain)

File: Obamas at church on Inauguration Day 2013.jpg

Created: 20 January 2013

Religious views

Obama is a Protestant Christian whose religious views developed in his adult life. He wrote in The Audacity of Hope that that he “was not raised in a religious household”. He described his mother, raised by non-religious parents, as being detached from religion, yet “in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known.” He described his father as a “confirmed atheist” by the time his parents met, and his stepfather as “a man who saw religion as not particularly useful.” Obama explained how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand “the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change.”

The official portrait of Obama as a member of the United States Senate

By United States Senate – https://web.archive.org/web/20070613015950/http://obama.senate.gov/files/senatorbarackobama.jpg (Was published on the “About” page in 2007), Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

U.S. Senator from Illinois (2005–08)

Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 3, 2005, becoming the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CQ Weekly characterized him as a “loyal Democrat” based on analysis of all Senate votes from 2005 to 2007. Obama announced on November 13, 2008, that he would resign his Senate seat on November 16, 2008, before the start of the lame-duck session, to focus on his transition period for the presidency.  A photo has emerged of then-Senator Obama standing with controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during a 2005 Congressional Black Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill. In 2008, Farrakhan endorsed Obama’s candidacy for President.

Obama standing on stage with his wife and daughters just before announcing his presidential candidacy in Springfield Illinois, February 10, 2007. Springfield, Illinois, USA. Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and daughters. “The Future First Family Waves. Senator Obama’s family was on hand for the announcement, and he invited them on stage to wave to the crowd before he began his speech.”

By Ben Stanfield – The Future First Family Waves, CC BY-SA 2.0, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (ccby-sa 2.0)

File: Flickr Obama Springfield 01.jpg

Created: 10 February 2007

Presidential campaigns

On August 23, Obama announced his selection of Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. Obama selected Biden from a field speculated to include former Indiana Governor and Senator Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Hillary Clinton called for her supporters to endorse Obama, and she and Bill Clinton gave convention speeches in his support. Obama delivered his acceptance speech, not at the center where the Democratic National Convention was held, but at Invesco Field at Mile High to a crowd of approximately 84,000 people; the speech was viewed by over 38 million people worldwide.

During both the primary process and the general election, Obama’s campaign set numerous fundraising records, particularly in the quantity of small donations.  On June 19, 2008, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976.

John McCain was nominated as the Republican candidate, and he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. The two candidates engaged in three presidential debates in September and October 2008. On November 4, Obama won the presidency with 365 electoral votes to 173 received by McCain. Obama won 52.9% of the popular vote to McCain’s 45.7%. He became the first African American to be elected president. Obama delivered his victory speech before hundreds of thousands of supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park.

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919

By Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force – http://www.defenseimagery.mil/imagery.html#guid=4de8e17b0fbfafb8edfb0fa6cec854eaecfc1d42, Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (Public Domain) view terms

File: US President Barack Obama taking his Oath of Office – 2009Jan20.jpg

Created: 20 January 2009

Presidency (2009–2017)

The inauguration of Barak Obama as the 44th President took place on January 20, 2009. In his first few days in office, Obama issued executive orders and presidential memoranda directing the U.S. military to develop plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. He ordered the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but Congress prevented the closure by refusing to appropriate the required funds and preventing moving any Guantanamo detainee into the U.S. or to other countries. Obama reduced the secrecy given to presidential records. He also revoked President George W. Bush’s restoration of President Ronald Regan’s Mexico City Policy prohibiting federal aid to international family planning organizations that perform or provide counseling about abortion.

Outgoing President George W. Bush meets with President-elect Obama in the Oval Office on November 10, 2008

By White House photo by Eric Draper – https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2008/11/images/20081110_5e5u4007a-515h.html (Original, broken link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/11/images/20081110_5e5u4007a-515h.html), Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

Barack Obama looks on during a joint session of Congress (State of the Union-like) on the night of February 24, 2009. Standing in front of Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

By Pete Souza – http://www.whitehouse.gov/ (specifically http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/hero/624×351/_MG_0474-hero.jpg) Accessed 2009-02-25; Story, Public Domain, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (Public Domain)

File: Barack Obama addresses joint session of Congress 2009-02-24.jpg

Created: 24 February 2009

Domestic policy

The first bill signed into law by Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, relaxing the statute of limitations for equal-pay lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an additional 4 million uninsured children. In March 2009, Obama reversed a Bush-era policy that had limited funding of embryonic stem cell research and pledged to develop “strict guidelines” on the research.

LGBT rights

On October 8, 2009, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a measure that expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

On October 30, 2009, Obama lifted the ban on travel to the United States by those infected with HIV, which was celebrated by Immigration Equality.

On December 22, 2010, Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which fulfilled a key promise made in the 2008 presidential campaign to end the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy of 1993 that had prevented gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces. In 2016, the Pentagon ended the policy that also barred transgender people from serving openly in the military.

Economic policy

On February 17, 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening worldwide recession. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentive, and direct assistance to individuals. In March, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, took further steps to manage the financial crisis, including introducing the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets, which contains provisions for buying up to two trillion dollars in depreciated real estate assets.

Obama intervened in the troubled automotive industry in March  2009, renewing loans for General Motors and Chrysler to continue operations while reorganizing. Over the following months the White House set terms for both firms’ bankruptcies, including the sale of Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat and a reorganization of GM giving the U.S. government a temporary 60% equity stake in the company, with the Canadian government taking a 12% stake. In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment. He signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System, known colloquially as “Cash for Clunkers”, that temporarily boosted the economy.

Environmental policy

On April 20, 2010, an explosion destroyed an offshore drilling rig at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a major sustained oil leak. Obama visited the Gulf, announced a federal investigation, and formed a bipartisan commission to recommend new safety standards, after a review by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and concurrent Congressional hearings. He then announced a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits and leases, pending regulatory review. As multiple efforts by BP failed, some in the media and public expressed confusion and criticism over various aspects of the incident and stated a desire for more involvement by Obama and the federal government.

Health care reform

Obama called for Congress to pass legislation reforming health care in the United States, a key campaign promise, and a top legislative goal. He proposed an expansion of health insurance coverage to cover the uninsured, to cap premium increases, and to allow people to retain their coverage when they leave or change jobs. His proposal was to spend $900 billion over 10 years and include a government insurance plan, also known as the public option, to compete with the corporate insurance sector as a main component to lowering costs and improving quality of health care. It would also make it illegal for insurers to drop sick people or deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions and require every American to carry health coverage. The plan also includes medical spending cuts and taxes on insurance companies that offer expensive plans.

Gun control

On January 16, 2013, one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Obama signed 23 executive orders and outlined a series of sweeping proposals regarding gun control.  He urged Congress to reintroduce an expired ban on military-style assault weapons, such as those used in several recent mass shootings, impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, introduce background checks on all gun sales, pass a ban on possession and sale of armor-piercing bullets, introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, especially unlicensed dealers who buy arms for criminals and approving the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the first time since 2006. On January 5, 2016, Obama announced new executive actions extending background check requirements to more gun sellers. In a 2016 editorial in the New York Times, Obama compared the struggle for what he termed “common-sense gun reform” to women’s suffrage and other civil rights movements in American history.

Cybersecurity and Internet policy

On November 10, 2014, President Obama recommended the Federal Communications Commission reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service in order to preserve net neutrality. On February 12, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13636, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.”

Foreign policy

Obama speaking on “A New Beginning” at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. In February and March 2009, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made separate overseas trips to announce a “new era” in U.S. foreign relations with Russia and Europe, using the terms “break” and “reset” to signal major changes from the policies of the preceding administration. Obama attempted to reach out to Arab leaders by granting his first interview to an Arab satellite TV network, Al Arabiya.

Cultural and political image

Obama’s family history, upbringing, and Ivy League education differ markedly from those of African-American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement. Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is “black enough”, Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists that “we’re still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong.” Obama acknowledged his youthful image in an October 2007 campaign speech, saying: “I wouldn’t be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation.”

The Obama Legacy

Obama’s most significant legacy is generally considered to be the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, provisions of which went into effect from 2010 to 2020. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system’s most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

Many commentators credit Obama with averting a threatened depression and pulling the economy back from the Great Recession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Obama administration created 11.3 million jobs from the month after his first inauguration to the end of his term.

In 2009, Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which contained in it the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first addition to existing federal hate crime law in the United States since Democratic President Bill Clinton signed into law the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded existing federal hate crime laws in the United States to apply to crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and dropped the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity.

In 2010, Obama signed into effect the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act. Passed as a response to the financial crisis of 2007-08, it brought the most significant changes to financial regulation in the United States since the regulatory reform that followed the Great Depression under Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

President Barak Obama left office in January 2017 with a 60% approval rating. A 2017 C-SPAN Presidential Historians Survey ranked Obama as the 12th-best US president.

US employment statistics (unemployment rate and monthly changes in net employment) during Obama’s tenure as U.S. President

By Ben Moore – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (cc by-sa 3.0)

File: US Employment Statistics. svg

Created: 3 February 2014

President Barack Obama holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Nov. 23, 2009.

White House (Pete Souza)/ Maison Blanche – The Official White House Photostream

source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

source: (Public Domain)

File: Obama cabinet meeting 2009-11.jpg

Created: 23 November 2009

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