Obama phenomenon: Hope and disappointment

U.S. President Barack Obama has made history as a pioneer in many ways. He is the first black president, first black senator and even the first smoking president in many years. Both the U.S. and the rest of the world had high expectations for Obama. He did not meet all of them, which is understandable. The U.S. president is a dependent person.

According to his official biography, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, the capital of the State of Hawaii. Some of the president's opponents argue that his birth certificate is forged, and that he was born in Kenya. If this was true, Obama would not have had the right to run for president. Yet, the "birthers" did not have any evidence to prove their theory. Obama was the first head of state born in Hawaii that, incidentally, became a U.S. state just two years before the birth of the future president.

Obama is called the first black U.S. president. This is true, but with some reservations. His father, Barack Obama Sr. was a native of Kenya, from a Muslim family. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a white American from a wealthy family and a descendent of the English, Scottish, Irish, German and even Indian. According to a legend, among his ancestors were even Scottish kings.  

In addition, he is the first head of state whose father was a Muslim. Not only that, part of his life (age 6 to 10), Obama lived in Muslim Indonesia whose citizen his mother married. Obama is a Protestant, so you would not call him the first Muslim president. Another reservation about Obama's African roots is in the fact that he is not a descendant of African slaves, like most black people in the U.S. His parents divorced when he was three years old, and he grew up in the family of his mother.

At the age of 10, Obama returned to Hawaii, where he lived with his maternal grandparents. He graduated from a prestigious school, then - Columbia University where he studied international relations, and in the late 1980s he graduated from Harvard Law School. The president himself admitted that he did not display exemplary behavior when in college. He drank, smoked marijuana, tried cocaine. He quit smoking only in 2010. Thus Obama can be also called the first smoking president in many years. Dwight Eisenhower, who was elected in 1952 and 1956, was the only other smoking president.

In the mid-1980s, Obama had an affair with the daughter of an Australian diplomat Genevieve Cook. In her memoirs, the woman admitted that Obama was gentle, but cold. She was jealous of him all the time. Yet, Genevieve was not particularly persistent, and Obama has chosen another woman, a black lawyer Michelle Robinson, in marriage - Obama. They got married in 1992 and later had two daughters, Malia and Sasha. In the spring of 2010 the Globe magazine published an article stating that in the mid-2000s.Obama had an affair with his aide Vera Baker. However, the publication has failed. Giving his re-election speech, the president said that he loved Michelle more than ever.

Obama started his career as a community organizer in Chicago's disadvantaged areas. He worked in an International Business Corporation and New York research center. While a student at Harvard, he became the first black editor of Harvard Law Review. Everyone acknowledged Obama's fine oratory skills. It is not surprising that in the end he became a politician.

It takes most U.S. presidents decades to get to the highest public office. Obama reached the White House quickly, within 12 years. In 1996 he was elected to the Illinois Senate from the Democratic Party, then he was re-elected twice (in 1998 and 2002). He earned his popularity by working on programs supporting low-income families and education.

In 2000, he tried to become a member of the House, but lost the internal party elections. Four years later, he managed to get to the top. He convincingly won the primaries for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, and eventually defeated his Republican rival, gaining 70 percent of the vote. As a result, he became the first black Senator in the U.S.

Among all senators Obama seemed the most liberal and the most "left", if this word can at all be applied to the U.S. that does not have a powerful left-wing. He spoke in favor of the improvement of the provision for the military demobilized from Iraq and Afghanistan. He strongly criticized George W. Bush administration, spoke against banning abortion, and emphasized the importance of the fight against global warming.  

In early 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for presidency. Originally, Hillary Clinton was a favorite from the Democratic party, but in the primaries Obama took the lead. The choice between the first woman president and the first black president was in favor of the latter. This was due to the fact that Obama was new to the elite and represented change more than Clinton, who is a veteran in politics.

The amount of donations to Obama during the election campaign was so large that he became the first candidate to abandon the state funding. The war in Iraq, the horrific consequences of hurricane "Katrina", the economic crisis and the weak social policies have undermined the credibility of the Republicans. In November 2008, Obama was confidently ahead of John McCain and became the 44th President of the United States.

Obama inherited a difficult legacy, and we cannot say that he fully coped with the consequences of the crisis. The national debt of the country for 2009-2012 has reached the astronomical sum of $14 trillion. The president sought to provide health insurance for the entire population, including its poorest representatives, but the health care reform has not been fully completed. He did everything to support the poor and raise taxes for the rich, which caused dissatisfaction of the Republicans. As a result, some opponents even called Obama "socialist."

In foreign policy, Obama was trying to make America look more human. He made peaceful speeches in Prague and Cairo, and even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Never before a President has received such a high award in the first year of the presidential term. That award was one of the most controversial in history, and it appears that Obama has not fully justified the expectations.

Obama withdrew troops from Iraq and promised to do the same in Afghanistan. However, in 2011 the USA took an active part in the war against Libya and then started to put pressure on Syria. The U.S. administration tried to solve the chronic Arab-Israeli conflict, but did not succeed. Elimination of Osama bin Laden is Obama's important achievement, but the elimination of the "terrorist number one" has not brought peace.

The relations between the U.S. and Russia have improved under Obama. The president initiated the "reset." The two countries signed an agreement on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), and Obama refused to place missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. However, he decided to create a new missile defense system and wants to deploy its elements close to the Russian border. U.S. administration officials constantly criticized Russia for Syria. In the end, the "reset" has stalled.  

Now Obama is facing new challenges. He will be working for the history. However, the world should not expect much. The powers of the President of the USA are not as great as it seems at first glance. He is forced to reckon with the Congress, lobbyists, and business. Yet, the president is capable of improving the situation within the United States and beyond. We have to wait four years to see how well the first black President did.

Pavel Chernyshev


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov