Globalist Factsheet

Obama Defined

What are some of the lesser-known facts about President Barack Obama?

Takeaways


  • Barack Obama's last name — when transliterated into Farsi — means "He is with us." (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
  • Of the United States' 43 presidents, 25 have been lawyers. Only one has an MBA — George W. Bush. (Financial Times)
  • Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is from the same Luo tribe as Barack Obama's father — meaning that the United States will have an ethnic Luo president before Kenya. (Financial Times)
  • Barack Obama was just the third African-American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. (New York Times)

Few people have received as much scrutiny over the past year as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. It is Obama’s past experiences, though, that have helped define who he is now. We wonder: What are some of the lesser-known facts about Barack Obama?

Where did Obama start his professional life?

Barack Obama’s first job out of college was at a trade publication for multinational businesses, where he was a financial writer.

(New York Times)

What is notable about the place in which Obama was raised?

Oahu, Hawaii, where Barack Obama was raised, is one of the most multiracial, yet geographically isolated places on earth — located 2,390 miles from the West Coast of the United States.

(Washington Post)

What is remarkable about Obama's father?

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is from the same Luo tribe as Barack Obama’s father — meaning that the United States will have an ethnic Luo president before Kenya.

(Financial Times)

What about his mother's side of the family?

Barack Obama’s great-great-great-grandfather, Fulmuth Kearney, immigrated from the small town of Moneygall, Ireland, in 1850. A local Anglican rector in the town tracked down documents that proved “O’bamas” Irish roots.

(Washington Post)

How was Obama’s upbringing unique?

Barack Obama was raised mostly by his mother and her family in Hawaii after his father returned to Kenya when Obama was two years old. Obama was reunited with his father once, for a month, at age ten.

(Washington Post)

What was Obama like as a student?

As a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Barack Obama went by the name of Barry and was known for his eloquence, intellect and activism against apartheid in South Africa.

(New York Times)

What's one issue Obama showed an interest in during his studies?

Barack Obama wrote his senior thesis at Columbia University on the North-South debate on trade then raging as part of the demand for a “new international economic order.”

(New York Times Magazine)

How has Obama already made history?

Barack Obama was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.

(New York Times)

Yet, by going to Harvard Law, how is he similar to over half of all U.S. presidents?

Of the United States’ 43 presidents, 25 have been lawyers. Only one has an MBA — George W. Bush.

(Financial Times)

Is there a Harvard legacy in the Obama family?

Barack Obama’s father was an economist from Kenya who received his Ph.D. at Harvard University.

(New York Times)

How has Obama also made history by being elected to the Senate?

Barack Obama was just the third African-American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction.

(New York Times)

Will Obama be one of the youngest U.S. presidents?

At the time of his inauguration, Barack Obama will be 47 years of age. Other young presidents have included Teddy Roosevelt and Bill Clinton — elected at 42 and 46, respectively.

(Washington Post)

How could Obama respond to those who claim he is too inexperienced to become president?

Looking at the 19 U.S. presidents since 1900, three of the greatest were among those with the fewest years in electoral politics. Teddy Roosevelt had been a governor for two years and vice president for six months, Woodrow Wilson had been a governor for just two years — and Franklin Roosevelt had been a governor for four years.

(New York Times)

How wide is the age difference between Obama and McCain?

The age gap between the 47-year-old Obama and the 72-year-old McCain is the widest in the history of U.S. presidential elections. The previous record was set in 1996, where Bob Dole was 23 years older than Bill Clinton.

(International Herald Tribune)

How have Obama and McCain fared in their respective book writing careers?

Barack Obama’s book Dreams from My Father has 1.8 million copies in print. In contrast, John McCain’s book Faith of My Fathers has 536,000 copies in print.

(Time)

How many people tuned in to watch Obama and McCain debate?

The first 2008 presidential debate is estimated to have drawn 57 million viewers. That is far from the top-rated U.S. presidential debate since 1976 — a 1980 Carter-Reagan debate, which drew 81 million viewers.

(Nielsen Media Research)

How might Obama's name provide a small comfort to Iran?

Barack Obama’s last name — when transliterated into Farsi — means “He is with us.”

(Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

What's something that separates Obama from most Americans?

In 2005, the Obama family’s income was $1.67 million — more than they had earned in the previous seven years combined. As of 2007, the family's income had increased to $4.2 million. The increased income is due mostly to sales of Obama's two books.

(The New Yorker/CBS News)

What's notable about Obama's autobiographical writings?

As of 2007, Barack Obama had written two memoirs — by the age of 45.

(International Herald Tribune)

Where did Obama meet his wife, Michelle?

Michelle Obama met her future husband Barack when she was assigned to mentor him at the Chicago headquarters of the law firm of Sidley Austin.

(Wall Street Journal)

And finally, has Obama always been known by his current name?

While living in Indonesia as a child, Barack Obama went by the name Barry Soetoro — using his stepfather’s family name.

(International Herald Tribune)

Responses to “Obama Defined”

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