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Barack Obama: Impact and Legacy

When President Obama left office on January 20, 2017, his impact and legacy were unclear. He will always be the first African American president in US history, and his administration was notable for its stability. With Republicans in control of both the presidency and the Congress in 2017, however, some of Obama’s most notable achievements—the Affordable Care Act, the Paris climate change agreement, and Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals—were overturned or under attack. 

Obama’s lasting impact on American life may turn out to have been greatest in terms of the crises that did not happen. Despite teetering on the edge of economic catastrophe, the nation did not fall into the abyss of a second Great Depression in 2009. And despite calls for more aggressive military action, the nation scaled back on its troop commitments rather than launching additional wars. How long and in what form Obama’s policy changes will endure remains to be seen. Those that depended on unilateral executive action have been the most fragile, since they can be undone by subsequent actions by his successors in the presidency.

Obama’s job approval rating in polls of the American people rose during his second term, cresting at about 60 percent during his final months in office. The public also rated him highly in comparison with other recent presidents. A Quinnipiac University polls released in late January 2017 found that 29 percent said he was the greatest president since World War II, just one point behind Ronald Reagan, who was named by 30 percent and well ahead of every other postwar president.

The Black Presidency

Michael Nelson

Professor of Political Science Rhodes College

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Barack obama presidency page, barack obama essays, life in brief, life before the presidency, campaigns and elections, domestic affairs, foreign affairs, family life, impact and legacy (current essay).

barack obama thesis statement

Barack Obama's Columbia University Thesis

Did barack obama's thesis for columbia university, entitled 'aristocracy reborn,' note that america's founding fathers 'did not allow for economic freedom', david mikkelson, published oct 25, 2009.

Claim:   Barack Obama's thesis for Columbia University, entitled "Aristocracy Reborn," noted that America's founding fathers "did not allow for economic freedom."

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2009]

I saw someone online claim that the following is a quote from Barack Obama's thesis at Columbia contains the following segment:

"... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."  

Origins:   In academia, a thesis is a typical requirement for a graduate degree (although some schools require a thesis for a bachelor's degree as well), an original research project submitted by a student on a topic related to his major. Many universities keep their students' theses on file and make them available to the public as library resources.

In recent years, theses written by U.S. presidential candidates and their spouses have become subjects of great interest, particularly for the possibility that they might provide some insight into the thinking and mindsets of their authors, including the disclosure of once-held viewpoints that might be now be considered controversial and disadvantageous to their current political careers (or those of their spouses). Accordingly, major political figures have become more circumspect about allowing public access to their theses: Former First Lady Hillary Clinton 's 1969 Wellesley College thesis on community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, for example, was not available for examination by the public during the eight years of her husband's presidency, and current First Lady Michelle Obama 's 1985 Princeton University thesis on "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community" was the subject of controversy when access to it was initially blocked during her husband's campaign for the presidency. (The Obama campaign made a copy of Michelle's thesis publicly available in February 2008, and Princeton's restriction on access to it was likewise lifted.)

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign (and afterwards), one of the items that was frequently cited as a "missing document" connected with Barack Obama was his own thesis for Columbia University, a school from which he graduated in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science (with a specialization in international relations). Politico noted in October 2008 that:

There's not a whole lot of information available about Obama's time at Columbia University in New York, which he attended for three years after attending Occidental College in Los Angeles for one year and from which he graduated in 1983.

His campaign would not release his transcripts, and it says it does not have a copy of his thesis, which dealt with Soviet nuclear disarmament and which has drawn intense interest.

As far as has been determined, Barack Obama did not produce a formal thesis for his degree at Columbia University; the closest match is a paper he wrote during his senior year for an honors seminar in American Foreign Policy. However, Columbia University has said it did not retain a copy of that paper, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt has said that Barack himself does not have a copy, and the professor to whom the paper was submitted has said that he no longer has a copy in his possession either:

In 1983, as a senior at Columbia in New York, Barack Obama enrolled in an intense, eight-student honors seminar called American Foreign Policy. His former professor, Michael Baron, recalled in an interview with NBC News that Obama easily aced the year-long class. But Baron says he never had any inkling that the gangly senior would scale such heights.

[Baron] had saved Obama's senior paper for years, and even hunted for it again [in July 2008] in some boxes. But he said his search was fruitless, and he now thinks he tossed it out [in 2000] during a move.

described [Obama's] paper as a "thesis" or "senior thesis" in several interviews, and said that Obama spent a year working on it. Baron recalls that the topic was nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union.

"My recollection is that the paper was an analysis of the evolution of the arms reduction negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States," Baron said in an e-mail. "At that time, a hot topic in foreign policy circles was finding a way in which each country could safely reduce the large arsenal of nuclear weapons pointed at the other ... For U.S. policy makers in both political parties, the aim was not disarmament, but achieving deep reductions in the Soviet nuclear arsenal and keeping a substantial and permanent American advantage. As I remember it, the paper was about those negotiations, their tactics and chances for success. Barack got an A."

Baron said that, even if he could find a copy of the paper, it would likely disappoint Obama's critics. "The course was not a polemical course, it was a course in decision making and how decisions got made," he said. "None of the papers in the class were controversial."

So would it provide any political ammunition today? "I don't think it would at all," Baron said. "It wasn't a position paper; it was an analysis of decision-making."

In October 2009, a purported excerpt from Barack Obama's "missing" Columbia thesis began circulating widely on the Internet, one which claimed the paper stated that the Constitution drafted by American's founding fathers "did not allow for economic freedom" and failed to mention "the distribution of wealth" (a play on the common campaign charge that a redistribution of wealth was one of Barack Obama's political goals).

Had someone finally turned up Barack Obama's elusive senior paper? The Pajamas Media web site reported on 21 October 2009 that writer/reporter Joe Klein had been permitted to read the first ten pages of it and had revealed that the paper (supposedly entitled "Aristocracy Reborn") included the excerpt reproduced above.

However, that claim seemed dubious, as a paper on "Aristocracy Reborn," with musings about the Founding Fathers' supposed lack of interest in "economic freedom" and "the distribution of wealth," would have been rather unusual content to find in a senior paper on the topic of Soviet nuclear disarmament, written for a seminar on American foreign policy. In fact, the putative excerpt was fictitious, something lifted from a bit of satire published on the Jumping in Pools blog back on 25 August 2009:

Obama was required to write a 'senior seminar' paper in order to graduate from Columbia. The subject of this paper, which totaled 44 pages, was American government. Entitled Aristocracy Reborn , this paper chronicled the long struggle of the working class against, as Obama put it, "plutocratic thugs with one hand on the money and the other on the government."

In the paper, in which only the first ten pages were given to the general media, Obama decries the plight of the poor: "I see poverty in every place I walk. In Los Angeles and New York, the poor reach to me with bleary eyes and all I can do is sigh."

In part, the future President blames this on the current economic system: "There are many who will defend the 'free market.' But who will defend the single mother of four working three jobs. When a system is allowed to be free at the expense of its citizens, then it is tyranny."

However, the President also singled out the American Constitution: "... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."

Pajamas Media issued a notice a few days after its original report acknowledging that the information about Barack Obama's Columbia thesis was a hoax. Joe Klein also affirmed that he had never seen the paper in question.

Last updated:   25 October 2009

    Popkin, Jim.   "Obama and the Case of the Missing 'Thesis.'"   24 July 2008.

    Saul, Michael.   "Limbaugh Falls for Obama Thesis Hoax."     [New York] Daily News.   25 October 2009.

    Scott, Janny.   "Obama's Account of New York Years Often Differs from What Others Say."     The New York Times.   30 October 2007.

    Vogel, Kenneth P.   "What Are the Candidates Hiding?"   23 October 2008.

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David Mikkelson founded the site now known as back in 1994.

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Obama Writes His Thesis Statement

This week, we finally get to see President Obama's thesis statement.

For weeks, we've seen the rest of the paragraph begin to be filled in: the structure of a contrast between Republicans and Democrats, the hard-to-say-no-to infrastructure spending proposal, the even-harder-to-say-no-to tax incentives for businesses to hire, the surrogacy work by the Democratic Party, which is trying to portray the GOP as a bunch of tea-partying extremists. But we've lacked a thesis statement from the president himself.

At the White House, someone seems to have confused the message for the medium. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan , in American politics the medium and the message are no longer inextricably linked. The media is too fragmented for that. So, when President Obama spends time on the Food Network, on Ellen, on ESPN for March Madness and NASCAR, he may well (temporarily) up his Q ratings and his popularity through those targeted Neilsen demographics. That's necessarily because people don't religiously watch the Big 3 (or even Big 5) anymore.

People like Obama. But somehow, their feelings about the guy haven't translated into a like for his policies.

The way the White House has attempted to message on policy has been to message as if they had to target each demographic individually.

When you try to create a policy message in this way, you're bound to come up with kitschy ideas that backfire, like pre-naming a season that real Americans have to live through "Recovery Summer," as if we're all a bunch of alcoholics who have turned to the White House for sustenance and hope.  No. It's too late to be the national therapist on the economy.

Policy messaging, large framing opportunities, telling stories -- still relies on direct communication from a president to the people without a self-selected content or media filter.  Oval Office speeches, press conferences, policy proposals sold as policy proposals -- this is the stuff of getting from point A to point B. It's not complicated. It's not ornamentalized. It's not focused grouped. It's what Americans expect from their president -- that is... it's work. He's working. This is how a president works. He tells people what he is going to do and how he does it.

When it comes to fixing the economy, people want to know: What is he for?  They don't want to know: who is he? They know who he is.

Where is the thesis statement?

That's what this week is about.

The president is for a set of tax cuts for businesses and spending that would step up the pace of the economic recovery. In doing so, he's given Democrats something to run on. As much as the  party wants to localize races, they're still Democrats, and President Obama is still their leader.  Now, he's given them some bread. The Republicans want to freeze all spending and tax cuts. The Democrats want to cut these taxes and spend more. John Boehner, a relative unknown to the American people, took the bait this morning by offering an immediate counter-proposal. So now, Democrats have the beginning of what could credibly be called a message: here's what we're going to do. And here's what they're going to do. Do you trust them?

If the Democrats are destined to lose the House, then this presidential declarative is probably too late for political strategists. But -- and be honest here -- strategists are going to complain about anything the president does so long as his approval rating remains under 50%. But for whatever reason, or perhaps by design, President Obama's advisers now recognize that the November election IS a referendum on what the president is doing as much as it is a choice between two parties.

Obama's Senior Thesis

This (via Ben Smith ) is very interesting:

Conservative provocateurs have been hunting for it. Investigative journalists have been on the prowl, too. Even a former professor has been searching through old boxes for his copy of it. But today Barack Obama made it official: He doesn’t have and can’t release any copies of the thesis-length paper he wrote 25 years ago while a senior at Columbia University. “We do not have a copy of the course paper you requested and neither does Columbia University,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told NBC News. ... So we turned for answers to the former professor who graded the now-elusive paper. His former professor, Michael Baron, recalled in an interview with NBC News that Obama easily aced the year-long class. Baron described the paper as a “thesis” or “senior thesis” in several interviews, and said that Obama spent a year working on it. Baron recalls that the topic was nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union. “My recollection is that the paper was an analysis of the evolution of the arms reduction negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States,” Baron said in an e-mail. “At that time, a hot topic in foreign policy circles was finding a way in which each country could safely reduce the large arsenal of nuclear weapons pointed at the other … For U.S. policy makers in both political parties, the aim was not disarmament, but achieving deep reductions in the Soviet nuclear arsenal and keeping a substantial and permanent American advantage. As I remember it, the paper was about those negotiations, their tactics and chances for success. Barack got an A.” Baron said that, even if he could find a copy of the paper, it would likely disappoint Obama’s critics. “The course was not a polemical course, it was a course in decision making and how decisions got made,” he said. “None of the papers in the class were controversial.”

For what it's worth, I also had a semi-strange experience involving the Obama thesis back in February. An aide happened to mention that Obama had written his thesis on nuclear deterrence. When I went back to verify it in a subsequent conversation, the aide told me he'd have to double-check. He subsequently e-mailed to say Obama couldn't remember whether it was his actual thesis or just a paper for a class, so it was probably best to drop the reference altogether. It wasn't a particularly big deal either way--just a minor detail in the context of a much larger piece--but it did leave me scratching my head a bit. I mean, who doesn't remember their senior thesis? Anyway, I hadn't really given it a second thought until just now. (Though we did call Columbia in search of a copy...)

Update : Alright, alright. Point taken, commenters. I agree that this is an exceedingly small deal. I'm not suggesting there's something sinister lurking in those pages. And I can understand why the campaign would be loath to produce the thesis even if it's completely benign, which I suspect is the case. The right-wingers are obviously poised to mine any Obama document for statements that can be taken out of context and distorted, and even the most sober-minded senior thesis is vulnerable to that treatment.

Still, your default posture as a journalist, rather than a partisan or an operative, is that you always want more insight into the person your covering. I don't think it's at all unreasonable for us to push to see a project that Obama labored on for a year.

-- Noam Scheiber

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Obama's Columbia 'thesis' is all fiction, dreamed up by blogger

When we last spoke with Matthew Avitabile, a grad student in upstate New York who writes a blog called Jumping in Pools, he had stirred up a hornet's nest with a satirical posting that claimed President Barack Obama wanted soldiers to stop taking an oath to the Constitution and instead pledge their loyalty to the president himself. That put some conservative bloggers into a tizzy. "Good g*d — Obama is an egomaniac like we've never seen before. Another Hitler on the rise. This guy is just trashing everything the Consitution stands for," wrote someone named Kitty on the blog Tree of Liberty. The report kept spreading, getting picked up by other bloggers and circulating as a chain e-mail. It earned a Pants on Fire from our Truth-O-Meter. Avitabile, a 22-year-old State University of New York at Albany grad student and self-described moderate Republican, told us back in February that he was surprised the posting — which was labeled satire — could spread so quickly without people verifying the facts. "People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much, that they would go with it without checking it," he said. Now comes another satirical claim from Avitabile's blog that made it all the way to Rush Limbaugh's show before being debunked. It says that Obama criticized "plutocratic thugs" in his thesis at Columbia University: "Obama was required to write a 'senior seminar' paper in order to graduate from Columbia. The subject of this paper, which totaled 44 pages, was American government. Entitled Aristocracy Reborn, this paper chronicled the long struggle of the working class against, as Obama put it, 'plutocratic thugs with one hand on the money and the other on the government.' "In the paper, in which only the first ten pages were given to the general media, Obama decries the plight of the poor: 'I see poverty in every place I walk. In Los Angeles and New York, the poor reach to me with bleary eyes and all I can do is sigh.' "In part, the future President blames this on the current economic system: 'There are many who will defend the 'free market.' But who will defend the single mother of four working three jobs. When a system is allowed to be free at the expense of its citizens, then it is tyranny.' "However, the President also singled out the American Constitution: '... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy.' "It is yet unknown if more of this thesis will be released. It was also noted that the President received an A- for the paper, which later led to his graduation." The blog posting gained credibility because the "satire" label was small and easy to miss, and it falsely claimed that Time magazine columnist Joe Klein uncovered the thesis. "With all of the secrecy regarding the President's academic record," the blogger wrote, "famed Time reporter Joe Klein looked into the records for an upcoming special edition about the President. Klein included several key points in the piece, including his grades and stellar letters of recommendation. However, what has leaked along with this information was the subject of a thesis written by the young Obama while still an undergraduate at Columbia." Avitabile said he intended the item to be satire, but not over-the-top-obvious satire. "If you have to explain a joke, it's not funny," he said. "I kind of get inspiration from Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. You want people to be let in and then at the end, they realize it, and either find it funny on its own terms or find their reaction to be funny." The satire was too subtle for many people, though. The item appeared to go unnoticed for weeks. Then, on Oct. 21, 2009, Michael Ledeen of Pajamas Media, a political blog, wrote about Obama's alleged thesis: "That’s quite an indictment, even for an Ivy League undergraduate. I wonder if the prof – and I’d like to know who the prof was – made an appropriate marginal comment, something about historical context, about the Constitution’s revolutionary status in the history of freedom, and about the separation of powers in order to make the creation of any 'shackles' as difficult as possible." Just two days later, on Oct. 23, Rush Limbaugh cited it it in a sharp attack on Obama. "The Constitution is the most liberty-promoting and freedom-acknowledging document in the history of the world, and this little boy in college is writing about it with utter disdain, and he still shares those feelings," Limbaugh told listeners. He added, "So Joe Klein at Time magazine has known for a long time about Obama's college thesis when he was at Columbia. Why didn't this come out a year ago at this time? Why didn't this come out before the election in November?" Within minutes, though, the story began falling apart. While he was still on air, Limbaugh received notice from a listener who was skeptical of the thesis story and found nothing to back it up. So the host began to backtrack. "I'm also told that the blog containing the passage on Obama's thesis is a satire blog," he said later in the same show. "So I shout from the mountaintops, 'It was satire!' But we know [Obama] thinks it. Good comedy, to be comedy, must contain an element of truth, and we know how he feels about distribution of wealth. He's mad at the courts for not going far enough on it. So we stand by the fabricated quote because we know Obama thinks it anyway. That's how it works in the media today." Klein later confirmed on Time's Swampland blog that he had "never seen Obama's thesis," and other bloggers followed with contrite apologies. "I should have picked up some hint, but I didn’t," Ledeen posted on Oct. 23. "Shame on me." Meredith Jessup of followed suit the same day, but she added, "it's important to note that none of this nonsense would be running wild around the Internet if the campaign had just released Obama's thesis in the first place." Which might be a fair question – if there had been a thesis at all. But there wasn't. A Columbia University spokesman told PolitiFact that "an undergraduate thesis requirement for those in political science did not even exist at Columbia in 1983." In other words, Obama couldn't have written a thesis because no Columbia political science student in his era did. Yet the conviction that a thesis is out there has driven critics to search everywhere for it. The elusive Obama "thesis," it seems, stems from in an inadvertent slip of the tongue by one of Obama's former professors. In 2007, when Obama was serving in the Senate and gearing up for the first presidential primaries and caucuses, New York Times reporter Janny Scott assembled a story about Obama's years in New York, including his time as an undergraduate at Columbia. She managed to track down Michael Baron, who had taught a senior seminar on international politics and American policy for eight students, including Obama, in 1983. Baron, now a digital media executive for a Sarasota-based company, mistakenly used the term "thesis" when he spoke with the New York Times reporter, which sent reporters scurrying to find it. "Journalists began hounding Columbia University for copies of the musty document," wrote Jim Popkin, an NBC News senior investigative producer in a July 2008 blog posting. "Conservative bloggers began wondering if the young Obama had written a no-nukes screed that he might come to regret. And David Bossie, the former congressional investigator and 'right-wing hit man,' as one newspaper described him, took out classified newspaper ads in Columbia University’s newspaper and the Chicago Tribune in March searching for the term paper." But Obama's paper was nowhere to be found. While the paper was the fruit of a yearlong course, it's not something the university would have saved. "It was not like a master's or doctoral thesis that gets collected and put on microfiche," Baron told PolitiFact. Baron, who donated to Obama's campaign, ultimately received about two dozen calls from journalists, some from as far away as Japan and Europe, about the missing "thesis." The former professor insists that there was nothing damaging in the 25- to 40-page paper on nuclear disarmament, which earned Obama an A, and certainly nothing about shortcomings of the Constitution or the distribution of wealth, as the blog post indicated. "The students did not write papers about a policy being good or bad," Baron said. "It was about decisionmaking — who should be listened to and how to avoid narrow thinking." Avitabile, asked whether he would continue to publish satire on his site, gave an unequivocal yes. And he urged readers of all blogs to be vigilant. "I encourage anyone who's on the Internet, make sure it's linked to an accredited news source," he said. "If you do pass it along, you should say, 'This is probably fake, but this says the president is a lizard." So once again, satire from Jumping in Pools has triggered an avalanche of unwarranted outrage. And so for the many bloggers who spread the incorrect information, we set the meter ablaze – Pants on Fire. And check your facts next time, okay?

Featured Fact-check

barack obama thesis statement

Our Sources

"Brian Lancaster" (pseudonym for Matthew Avitabile), "Obama College Thesis: 'Constitution is Inherently Flawed" (blog post at Jumping in Pools), Aug. 25, 2009 Michael Ledeen, "Obama and the Constitution; He Has His Doubts" (blog post at Pajamas Media), Oct. 21, 2009

Michael Ledeen, "The Obama 'thesis' hoax" (blog post at Pajamas Media), Oct. 23, 2009,

Rush Limbaugh, "Obama's Disdain for Constitution: We Know He Thinks It, Don't We?" (transcript of radio show), Oct. 23, 2009 Joe Klein, "Nonsense" (blog post at Swampland), Oct. 23, 2009 Meredith Jessup, " Obama Thesis = Communist Manifesto, Part Deux " (blog post at, Oct. 23, 2009 Meredith Jessup, "Obama's 'Uncovered' Thesis a Hoax" (blog post at, Oct. 23, 2009 Carol Platt Liebau, "Is the Joke on the President?" (blog post at, Oct. 25, 2009 Jim Popkin, post at MSNBC's Deep Background blog , July 24, 2008, Janny Scott, "Obama's Account of New York Years Often Differs From What Others Say," New York Times, Oct. 30, 2007, accessed via Nexis Village Voice, "Fake But Accurate: Obama 'Thesis' Proves His Treason Even After It's Debunked," Oct. 26, 2009 New York Daily News, "Limbaugh falls for Obama thesis hoax - but is in no Rush to apologize," Oct. 25, 2009 Interview with Michael Baron, former professor of Barack Obama, Oct. 26, 2009 Interview with Matthew Avitabile, blogger at Jumping in Pools, Oct. 26, 2009

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Tools to Conceptualize a “Barack Obama Thesis”

How to plan your “barack obama thesis”.

Writing about leaders is an honor by itself. Indeed, writing down a Barack Obama thesis, will give you ways to know more about the person. This is an experience that you will gather, much beyond what the political propaganda reveals. Since it is about writing on a person, who is alive and belong to your time, you need to be cautious. To know the things you require to include in your paper, consider consulting each online thesis writing service, you come across.

Thesis topic matters: Writing a thesis paper on a celebrated leader like president Obama would include almost any thing. In fact, picking a topic under this circumstance would seem a difficult task. Often the teaching faculty shows you the way to approach each segment and pick an appreciable topic for your thesis. For a political student, sketching the political growth of President Obama could be a challenging topic. You can think about preparing a paper on the various policies that he has put forward so far. A Barack Obama thesis can be made into an argumentative discussion provided you can prove your view points.

Consolidating His life and works till date: This is exactly what you need to decide! You will be writing about a person. Thus you will have to decide the elements you will include in your paper and the manner in which they should be placed. For instance when you are talking about the change of presidential election, you need to talk about the social demands too. You can even prepare a thesis on the pre-presidential speeches and post presidential speeches. Concentrating on the same theme, you can study the promises made and the actions are taken.

Get your data correct: When you research for any Barrack Obama thesis, it is mandatory that you get your data accurately. This is because the contradictory material on a living person can cause unwanted trouble instead. In case you find it difficult to select the perfect books and resources to build up your thesis on, ask for teachers’ help.

Pick the right examples to support your viewpoints: We suggest that you should select the right kind of examples to indicate that you know the topic well enough. Wring a thesis on a leader will demand thorough investigation. Thus you might need to gather quotes of influential personalities attached to the person. All that you provide as integrated data should compliment you viewpoints. You might need to include interviews, and associated real time details. Thus think what you are capable of including and what is going to be a far-fetched affair.

Write it well, for it deals with a leader: No matter what you write, make sure you are quite formal in your discussion. Your Barrack Obama thesis is to do with a man who heads a nation. Thus you should be humble enough to recognize his standard. Write short and active sentences. Simple language will help you make the readers understand, your way of thinking. Thus write in a way which helps you to reach out to the readers faster than ever.

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Why it worked: A rhetorical analysis of Obama’s speech on race

barack obama thesis statement

The National Conference of Teachers of English (NCTE) has declared today a National Day on Writing.  I celebrate such a day.  The introduction of my book "Writing Tools" imagines what America might look like and sound like if we declared ourselves a “nation of writers.” After all, what good is freedom of expression if we lack the means to express ourselves?

To mark this day – and to honor language arts teachers everywhere – Poynter is republishing an essay I wrote almost a decade ago.  Remember? It was the spring of 2008 and Barack Obama was running for president. Many of us wondered if America was ready to elect an African-American president (a man with the middle name Hussein).

To dispel the fears of some white Americans and to advance his chances for election, Obama delivered a major address on race in America, a speech that was praised even by some of his adversaries. Obama had/has a gift for language. He is a skilled orator. To neutralize that advantage, his opponents – including Hillary Clinton at one point – would characterize Obama’s words as empty “rhetoric” – an elaborate trick of language.

The Spring of 2008 seems like such a long time ago.  A time just before the Great Recession.  A time just before the ascendancy of social networks and the trolls who try to poison them.  A time before black lives were said to matter in a more assertive way. A time before fake news was anything more dangerous that a piece of satire in the Onion. A time before Colin Kaepernick took a knee — except when he was tired.  A time before torch-bearing white supremacists marched through the night in Charlottesville, Virginia.   

It feels like the perfect time for a restart on a conversation about race. To prepare us, let’s take another look at the words of Barack Obama before he was president. Let’s review what he said, and, more important, how and why he said it. My X-ray analysis of that speech is meant not as a final word on that historical moment, but as an invitation, a doorway to a room where we can all reflect on American history and the American language.

Have a great National Day on Writing.  

More than a century ago, scholar and journalist W.E.B. DuBois wrote a single paragraph about how race is experienced in America. I have learned more from those 112 words than from most book-length studies of the subject:

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro;  two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

Much has been said about the power and brilliance of Barack Obama's March 18 speech on race, even by some of his detractors. The focus has been on the orator's willingness to say things in public about race that are rarely spoken at all, even in private, and his expressed desire to move the country to a new and better place. There has also been attention to the immediate purpose of the speech, which was to reassure white voters that they had nothing to fear from the congregant of a fiery African-American pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. 

Amid all the commentary, I have yet to see an X-Ray reading of the text that would make visible the rhetorical strategies that the orator and authors used so effectively. When received in the ear, these effects breeze through us like a harmonious song. When inspected with the eye, these moves become more apparent, like reading a piece of sheet music for a difficult song and finally recognizing the chord changes.

Such analysis, while interesting in itself, might be little more than a scholarly curiosity if we were not so concerned with the language issues of political discourse. The popular opinion is that our current president, though plain spoken, is clumsy with language. Fair or not, this perception has produced a hope that our next president will be a more powerful communicator, a Kennedy or Reagan, perhaps, who can use language less as a way to signal ideology and more as a means to bring the disparate parts of the nation together. Journalists need to pay closer attention to political language than ever before.

Like most memorable pieces of oratory, Obama's speech sounds better than it reads. We have no way of knowing if that was true of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but it is certainly true of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. If you doubt this assertion, test it out. Read the speech and then experience it in its original setting recited by his soulful voice.

The effectiveness of Obama's speech rests upon four related rhetorical strategies:

1.  The power of allusion and its patriotic associations. 2.  The oratorical resonance of parallel constructions. 3.  The "two-ness" of the texture, to use DuBois's useful term. 4.  His ability to include himself as a character in a narrative about race.

Allusion Part of what made Dr. King's speech resonate, not just for black people, but for some whites, was its framing of racial equality in familiar patriotic terms: "This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, 'My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing.  Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'"  What follows, of course, is King's great litany of iconic topography that carries listeners across the American landscape: "Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!…"

In this tradition, Obama begins with "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union," a quote from the Constitution that becomes a recurring refrain linking the parts of the speech. What comes next is "Two hundred and twenty one years ago," an opening that places him in the tradition of Lincoln at Gettysburg and Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial: "Five score years ago."

On the first page, Obama mentions the words democracy, Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia convention, 1787, the colonies, the founders, the Constitution, liberty, justice, citizenship under the law, parchment, equal, free, prosperous, and the presidency. It is not as well known as it should be that many black leaders, including Dr. King, use two different modes of discourse when addressing white vs. black audiences, an ignorance that has led to some of the hysteria over some of Rev. Wright's comments.

Obama's patriotic lexicon is meant to comfort white ears and soothe white fears. What keeps the speech from falling into a pandering sea of slogans is language that reveals, not the ideals, but the failures of the American experiment: "It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations." And "what would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part … to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time."

Lest a dark vision of America disillusion potential voters, Obama returns to familiar evocations of national history, ideals, and language:

— "Out of many, we are truly one." — "survived a Depression." — "a man who served his country" — "on a path of a more perfect union" — "a full measure of justice" — "the immigrant trying to feed his family" — "where our union grows stronger" — "a band of patriots signed that document."

Parallelism At the risk of calling to mind the worst memories of grammar class, I invoke the wisdom that parallel constructions help authors and orators make meaning memorable. To remember how parallelism works, think of equal terms to express equal ideas. So Dr. King dreamed that one day his four children "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." ( By the content of their character is parallel to by the color of their skin .)

Back to Obama: "This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign — to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America." If you are counting, that's five parallel phrases among 43 words. 

And there are many more:

Two-ness I could argue that Obama's speech is a meditation upon DuBois' theory of a dual experience of race in America. There is no mention of DuBois or two-ness, but it is all there in the texture. In fact, once you begin the search, it is remarkable how many examples of two-ness shine through:

— "through protests and struggles" — "on the streets and in the courts" — "through civil war and civil disobedience" — "I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas." — "white and black" — "black and brown" — "best schools … poorest nations" — "too black or not black enough" — "the doctor and the welfare mom" — "the model student and the former gang-banger …" — "raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor" — "political correctness or reverse racism" — "your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams"

Such language manages to create both tension and balance and, without being excessively messianic, permits Obama to present himself as the bridge builder, the reconciler of America's racial divide.

Autobiography There is an obnoxious tendency among political candidates to frame their life story as a struggle against poverty or hard circumstances. As satirist Stephen Colbert once noted of presidential candidates, it is not enough to be an average millionaire. To appeal to populist instincts it becomes de rigueur to be descended from "goat turd farmers" in France.

Without dwelling on it, Obama reminds us that his father was black and his mother white, that he came from Kenya, but she came from Kansas: "I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slave 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."

The word "story" is revealing one, for it is always the candidate's job (as both responsibility and ploy) to describe himself or herself as a character in a story of his or her own making. In speeches, as in homilies, stories almost always carry the weight of parable, with moral lessons to be drawn.

Most memorable, of course, is the story at the end of the speech — which is why it appears at the end. It is the story of Ashley Baia, a young, white, Obama volunteer from South Carolina, whose family was so poor she convinced her mother that her favorite meal was a mustard and relish sandwich. 

"Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue.  And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. … He simply says to everyone in the room, 'I am here because of Ashley.'"

During most of the 20th century, demagogues, especially in the South, gained political traction by pitting working class whites and blacks against each other. How fitting, then, that Obama's story points in the opposite direction through an old black man who feels a young white woman's pain.  

CORRECTION : An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed the phrase, "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union" to the Declaration of Independence.

barack obama thesis statement

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Barack Obama’s Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

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Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday. Obama told the story of his working class family and urged the nation to elect Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, saying he would ensure more educational and economic opportunities for all.

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On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place; America which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton's army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, 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 two hundred 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 and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they've defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he'll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never be the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6'2" or 6'3", clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. 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 are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.

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Essay About Barack Obama Barack Obama is someone I truly admire as a leader. He may not have a nursing background but exemplifies my vision of professional nursing leadership. He is the 44th President of the United States of America and the first African-American. He was a selfless leader who put everyone’s interest first before his own. He is compassionate, empathetic, humble, confident, and well-mannered. He exemplified flexibility in his thinking and adapted well to changing dynamics in American politics. He listens to the input of all who surrounds him. He is an effective communicator, a trait that is a must-have for every leader. Like a nurse, he is convicted and advocates constantly for the underserved population. Obama is a respected leader all over the world and right here at home in the United States. His policies might not be accepted by all but he brought everyone together whether Republican or Democrat. He always reaches a middle ground or offers a bipartisan solution to move things along in Congress. A true leader is someone who is able to work with both sides and come up with a solution that benefits both sides. He has numerous charities like Girls Opportunity Alliance, Leaders: Africa, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance that are leadership programs that empower the youth all over the world. Perhaps his greatest achievements that will go down in his legacy are the Affordable care act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as Obama Care was to improve access to health care through both expanded public health coverage and improved availability and affordability of private insurance(Kaye, 2019). Low-income families and people who did not have access to healthcare now have a chance to affordable healthcare. Even though the access to healthcare increased, and the number of uninsured reduced by 42% to 29 million, about 9% still remained uninsured(Bowleg, 2017). He has built numerous working relationships with many foreign countries around the world which is evident in his foreign policies. As a leader, he portrays the servant leadership and transformational leadership style. According to Yoder-Wise, transformational leadership theory is one in which the leader is a role model who inspires his followers through displayed optimism, provides intellectual stimulation, and encourages follower creativity (Yoder-Wise, pg. 51). President Obama is able to lead his team as a leader and incorporate the input and creativity suggested by his team in his policies which is evident in the famous slogan in his campaign, “yes we can”. He is not an I man. He is we man, someone who puts others before himself. Awe man who is compassionate and empathetic. To sum it all up, a leader is someone who rises to the occasion in the midst of adversity. He leads, manages, and follows when appropriate. He advocates for his clients. He foresees the future and plans around it. He is humble, adaptable to change, and has a servitude attitude. He puts the interest of everyone above his own. I am fortunate to have someone who exhibits these qualities and inspires me- former president Barack Obama-a true leader.

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Fact check: An Obama law school essay makes only brief reference to Trump

barack obama thesis statement

The claim: Barack Obama once said Donald Trump was an example of the American dream

Few presidents have as fraught of a relationship with their successor as former President Barack Obama does with President Donald Trump. The contrast between the two often draws exaggeration and misinformation.

"The American Dream is to be Donald Trump," a graphic image  claiming to quote the former president reads. USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook user who posted the claim.

Similar claims have circulated since at least 2017 , each claiming that Obama, during his time in law school, referred to Trump as an example of the American dream.

Analysis: Obama, Trump brawl breaks with history

There is no evidence that Obama said that line exactly, though the former president did make reference to his successor in an unpublished essay he co-authored while at Harvard Law School.

Fact check: Viral quote about helping poor often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln

The essay quickly mentions Trump

Obama has been a prolific author, even during his time as the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review . He co-authored "Race and Rights Rhetoric," with law school classmate Robert Fisher.

More: Michelle Obama says Trump is 'wrong president for our country' in DNC speech

David J. Garrow's 2017 biography of Obama , " Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama ," touched on how the duo's essay cited Trump as a kind of unattainable level of wealth and success that the average American nonetheless believed was within reach.

“(Americans have) a continuing normative commitment to the ideals of individual freedom and mobility, values that extend far beyond the issue of race in the American mind," Garrow's excerpt reads, according to a brief article on . 

"The depth of this commitment may be summarily dismissed as the unfounded optimism of the average American — I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don't make it, my children will.”

'People are not going to stop': 57 years later, thousands to gather for another March on Washington on Friday

Obama and Fisher included the reference in a broader argument about strategies for Black empowerment, arguing that a new framework for Black advancement was necessary in the decades after the civil rights movement.

"It has become increasingly apparent that the strategies rooted in the Sixties have not led blacks to the promised land of genuine political, economic and social equality," the two argued, according to PolitiFact .

"Political mobilization … ground to a halt as blacks became increasingly reliant on lawyers and professional civil rights leaders and organizations with only minimal institutional presence in local communities," the duo continued.

Obama and Fisher believed that, "Precisely because America is a racist society … we cannot realistically expect white America to make special concessions towards blacks over the long haul," according to an excerpt from VICE .

More: Obama speaks out on recent treatment of peaceful protesters at John Lewis' funeral

Based on these expanded excerpts, not only did Obama not use the line in the graphic directly, but the line misinterprets the point the essay was making. 

In a statement to Reuters , Garrow said that it is “hard to erase falsehoods from the record," referencing the misinterpretations his Obama's statements online.

“Once a falsehood gets out there on the web, it takes on an independent life as the very nature of the web discourages people from checking for reliable sources," he continued.

Fact check: Obama administration approved, built temporary holding enclosures at southern border

Our ruling: False

Barack Obama never directly said that "The American dream is to be Donald Trump." The best approximation of what the then-future president said can be found in his unpublished writings as reported by biographer David J. Garrow. In those writings, Obama references Trump in relation to the American dream but does not mean it in the traditional sense. We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Harvard Crimson, Feb 6. 1990, Obama Named New Law Review President
  • Complex, May 12, 2017, As a Harvard Law Student, Barack Obama Said Becoming Donald Trump Was The American Dream
  • Amazon listing of "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama"
  • VICE, May 12, 2017, Young Obama Said the American Dream Is to Be Donald Trump
  • PolitiFact, Apr 8, 2019, Obama never said, ‘The American dream is to be Donald Trump’
  • Reuters, Jun 9, 2020, Fact check: Obama misquoted as saying “the American Dream is to be Donald Trump”

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition , ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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Barack Obama Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Russia , Obama , President , Politics , World , America , Leadership , United States

Words: 1400

Published: 03/30/2020


Barack Hussein Obama is the current President of the United States. He was born on the 4th of August, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1979, he finished school Punahou School and entered Occidental College in Los-Angeles. Then Obama graduated the Columbia University, where he made first steps as a politician. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree, he began to work as a corrector in the International Business Corporation. In 1985, he moved to Chicago and worked there as a community organizer. Three years later Obama began to study law in Harvard University. There he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review and Harvard Law Club. After graduation Harvard, he returned to Chicago and became civil rights attorney. In addition, he worked in the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is a talented writer. In 1995, Barack published his first book “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” that became successful. Then he became a Senator from Illinois from 1997 to 2004. After that, he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. In 2008 Barack Obama became the 44th President of the US. Despite his lack of administrative experience, this statesman with a brilliant mind and great eloquence became a living symbol of changes and upcoming great accomplishments. One reason for its popularity is the new political style, the essences of which are common sense, de-ideologization, practical experience in dealing with daily challenges. The first Afro-American President was a leader of a new type without racial prejudices and other stereotypes. Barack Obama is a man of extraordinary views and beliefs. Obama speaks about women's right to abortion, the development of alternative fuel sources, the weakening of the policy toward immigrants. He did not declare a clear doctrine. His presidential campaign was based on vague promises of changes. Today, some of the features of his unique leadership are obvious. Firstly, propensity to apologize. He has apologized to Turkey for dark periods in the American history. Then he apologized to Japan for the nuclear bombardment during the Second World War. Undoubtedly, that, in such way, Barack Obama distance himself from an aggressive policy of Bush, but such behavior is also connected with personal traits. Secondly, extreme pragmatism in international relations. Being a realist by nature, Barack Obama pursues a pragmatic foreign policy. Sometimes he tends to neglect the allies and "cooperate" with rivals and enemies in order to achieve certain results. The third characteristic of the Obama’s administration policy is the appeal to the negative experience of the United States and their awareness of the right path. The United States have understood the lessons of foreign interventions and the need of setting their sights lower. Today, Washington is looking for partnership and cooperation with the countries of Europe and Middle East, China and others. The multilateralist approach to the world has bent over backwards to mend ties between the US and their European allies, reset relations between the US and Russia, to maintain a strong relationship with China and become the integrated player in the UN. He treats European countries as equal partners, not subservient pawns. The leadership style of Barack Obama is mostly collaborative. He is an attentive listener and tries to understand all arguments from opponents or supporters to make a decision. During the negotiations, the Obama team is much more open to negotiations and talks and diplomacy as a first means of dealing with world problems and even rogue states. The military action only to be used as an absolute last resort. Barack Obama prefers to pursue vigorous diplomacy ("Barack Obama | The Plaid Avenger"). The strong point of Obama as a politician and a negotiator is his eloquence, oratory skills and charm. During his speeches, he has an inner tranquility and has a lot of self-control. He managed to combine new political technologies with traditional organizational skill. He developed own unique style on the basis of assimilating the best examples from other orators. However, some people criticize him for lack of emotionality. Obama created a new style of “bottom-up, empowering” leadership focusing on collaboration. He developed a grassroots movement by building an ever-expanding organization of empowered leaders, who in turn engaged people from their social networks like Facebook. These trends portend massive changes in the 21st century leadership of American institutions, led by the Obama government itself (Bill n.p. ). The greatest accomplishment is the Affordable Care Act, which makes a universal health care. The other accomplishments are ending wars, anti-terrorism efforts and stabilizing the economy. He came out America from the economic crisis. Barack Obama created new jobs, supported equal pay for men and women, recapitalized banks, pursued credit card reforms and reduced taxes for middle-class. He saved General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy. In the sphere of environmental protection, Obama contributed to the regulation of greenhouse emissions and invested in renewable technologies. He took away Osama bin Laden, made the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, began the drawdown from Afghanistan and signed the non-proliferation treaty with Russia. In addition, he fought with Somali pirates. Barack Obama improved America's image around the world. Last decades America was perceived as the aggressor that made interventions to other countries and did not care about international opinion. The new image shows that the US is cooperative, benevolent and tolerant to other cultures. Obama’s popularity is also determined by personality traits, friendly manners, mindful decision-making, and confidence. He is charismatic, intellectual and high-educated person. I am impressed by his tolerance to Republicans and people with other views. He is logic and rational. Also, I have noticed that the direct eye contact with listeners is very important to him. His abilities to contact with audience and demonstrate brilliant leadership qualities cause admiration among people. Moreover, Barack Obama earned people`s respect for his loyalty to family. His image contributes to his career. He is always immaculately dressed and creates an impression of reliable, trustworthy person. His appearance, strict clothes and clean-shaved face creates an image of straightforward, honest and hard-working person with strong moral principles. In my opinion, Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents America, because he is passionate for human rights and social issues. He improved race relations. Barack Obama signed the bill for equal salaries for men and women, established services for overcoming domestic violence and sexual assault. During his presidency, he has changed a healthcare system and established a universal healthcare. It was for a long time a crucial issue in American society. Today, millions of children from poor families can receive help without health insurance. He has increased federal funding and doubled the amount of grant money allocated to students seeking a higher education to cover rising tuition costs. His policies and initiatives for clean energy economy have had an incredible impact on the future of the nation. For instance, the U.S. reduced oil imports by more than 10 percent from 2010 - 2011. The Administration made attempts to reduce dependence on oil, promote alternative energy and invest in renewable technologies. Obama brought the troops from Iraq and finally, ended the war there. In addition, he is ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Obama’s fight against terrorism was successful. At last, Osama Bin Laden was removed. Unfortunately, Barack Obama could not fulfill all promises, and it is not his fault. In the US the President is dependent from congress, so he could not pass his laws through it. Nevertheless, Barack Obama is a great leader due to his accomplishments and personal traits. He became a cultural and historical symbol and called us for better awareness of personal responsibility for our words and actions. The U.S. President Obama has demonstrated the ability to provide strategic guidance, understanding the changes of the modern world and the new role of the United States.

“Barack Obama | The Plaid Avenger”. Plaid Avenger Inc, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014 <> Bill, George. Barack Obama: A Leader for the “We” Generation. Businessweek, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 7 Mar. 2014 <>.


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Barack Obama Inauguration Speech 2009: Analysis

Barack obama inaugural address: analysis introduction, barack obama inauguration speech 2009: analysis of rhetorical devices, barack obama inaugural address: analysis conclusion, works cited.

President Barack Obama made history by being America’s first African-American president. On 20th, January in the year 2009, he took an oath of office as the 44th president of America. On this icy day in Washington D. C, Barack Obama gave his inaugural speech after taking the oath of office.

He did this while standing in front of a building which was built by black slaves during the period of slavery. This indicated that as a global leader, he recognized and represented people from all races, including the black and whites. His inauguration came at a time when the nation was undergoing hard economic times and the people were in low spirits, ready for a new leader who would bring change into their nation.

President Obama’s thirty paragraphed inaugural speech was well written and read. His speech was very artistic. While giving it, he made use of several rhetorical strategies that helped him to mesmerize and persuade his audience. Being a philosopher, Obama used the rhetorical appeal by taking his experiences alongside his vast knowledge of political and legal issues to demonstrate his competence.

For instance, the president effectively used pathos, a rhetorical device meant to appeal to the emotions of his global audience. He started his speech by uttering the following words ‘I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors Obama par.1.’ Here, President Obama effectively used a tricolon. This is a sentence composed of three well-defined parts which increase in size, magnitude, and intensity.

The words were spoken at a time when America was experiencing hard economic times and thus, such words brought a calming effect to his audience. It indicated that he connected very well to his audience who consisted of people from different races as well as different social and economic backgrounds. This was also meant to put emphasis on his passion towards his nation. It also demonstrated his oratory skills as the words easily created a rhythmic effect.

The president also used a lot of poetic words in his speech. Such words ignited the imagination of his audience. This is seen when he says ‘because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatred shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace Obama par.2.’

Here, words such as ‘bitter swill of civil war’ and ‘lines of tribe’ create pictures in the imagination of his audience, thus creating a better understanding of the magnitude of the situation at hand.

In another part of his speech, the president talked about calling his grandfather who was crying. By doing this, he was able to establish an emotional bond with his listeners. His speech was also composed of short but precise sentences. Examples of such sentences, in his speech, include; ‘The enemy was advancing’ and ‘The capital was abandoned.’ By writing short sentences, he was able to hit the nail on the head. His speech was also characterized with references of all Americans.

For instance, the pronouns ‘we, ‘us’ and ‘our’ were evident in the most part of his speech. In fact, Obama opened his inaugural address by using the word “us” to signify everyone. He also used religion to this effect. This is seen in the following clause, ‘That we are a nation of different believes, but we are all united in the prosperity of America, we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace (Obama par.3).’

Such pronouns also made his speech more informal, a factor that would strengthen his relationship with all the Americans. However the pronoun ‘I’ was minimal. This could indicate that the speech was mostly about the people he was nominated to serve rather than himself as an individual (Obama par. 7).

In addition, Obama’s speech was logically effective. He was able to use the rhetoric of logos in order to appeal to his audience. By using facts and figures while delivering his message, Obama demonstrated that he was well aware of the history of his nation.

Obama was also able to develop his ideas effectively. He laid out the appropriate strategies of the work that was needed to be done to restore America’s economy. He referred to many historical instances to apprecia ate the past and show America’s position at that time. This can be illustrated through the use of words such as “forefathers,” “ancestors” and “generations (Obama par.9).

The rhetoric of Ethos was also prominent in Obama’s speech. He demonstrated a lot of honesty in his speech inand did not shy away from the unrelenting problems that affected our country. He recognized and established the relationship that he had with people who were superior to him, giving credit while positively criticizing their flaws.

For instance, he expressed gratitude to the former US president Bush for serving the nation as well as his support through the transition period, pointing out the flaws that the nation experienced during his regime.

He also made several references to slavery and segregation. At one point, He talked about his father who was a black man and mentioned a time in America’s history when a man like him would not be served in public restaurants. Through the use of ethos, Obama was able to make obvious his moral values, proving to his audience that he was indeed the right person for the job.

Another important aspect of Obama’s inaugural speech is the use of kairos. This involves moving the right argument at the right time or seizing the moment. In his speech, Obama was seen to take advantage of any opportune moment while addressing his main concerns to comprehensively tackle a particular topic. This way, he was able to address his main topics exhaustively. He mainly addressed issues concerning, the economy, unemployment, and lack of confidence in America’s political system (Walker 8).

In conclusion, while some critics would argue that President Obama’s inauguration speech was less inspiring as compared to other speeches he gave during his campaigns, Obama was able to deliver an amazing speech during his inauguration. The use of rhetorical strategy facilitated in underlining his vision and message to the American people and indeed to the world as whole.

Through the extensive use of the collective pronouns such as ‘us’ and ‘we,’ in his inaugural address, Obama successfully signified his commitment to the transition of America into a new era of hope where all counted. By using the rhetoric styles, he was able to restore confidence in his audience who were going through tough economic times. The repeated use of these pronouns also left a lasting impression on his audience and fascinated them.

Through the use of kairos, Obama was able to address the main issues affecting America exhaustively. By using simple and brief sentences, he was clearly understood by the general audience/public. Obama was also able to capture the attention of his audience through the use of poetic words.

Indisputably, president Barrack Obama was able to convince his global audience that he was the right person to lead the country through the current crisis (CNN). He was able to achieve this in the most stylistic, convincing and relaxed way. It is, therefore, no doubt that Obama was able to maintain his credibility in his arguments during his inauguration speech.

Obama, Hussein. “Presidential Inaugral Address.” 2009. Web.

Walker, Danielle. “Obama’s Inaugural Address Response.” 2009. Web.

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The Use of Ethos and Pathos in The Appeal of President Barack Obama

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August 4, 1961 (age 60)

Barack Obama is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was the first African-American president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004.

Signed the Affordable Care Act. Ended the War In Iraq. Signed The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Signed The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act.

“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” “If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.” “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.”


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barack obama thesis statement

’A More Perfect Union’ Barack Obama Rhetorical Analysis

“A More Perfect Union” was a speech by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008. In his most famous speech, Obama elicited debates among many people. It addressed the issue of race in the United States, aiming to rethink divisions within the country. Obama’s speech is criticized for having rhetorical statements and sensitive topics that no one would dare to talk about back then. This essay provides an argumentative rhetorical analysis of Barack Obama’s speech – “A More Perfect Union.”

  • The Audience
  • Rhetorical Fallacies

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Barack Obama’s Target Audience

In his speech, Obama is very conscious and aware of his audience. His primary target audience is the American population and especially the voters. After addressing the entire American population, he goes further and splits his audience into different groups.

The second group that he addresses is the White Americans. In his speech, he lets them know that there are racial wounds that continued to affect them and many generations. Obama cautiously addresses the challenge of racial discrimination, making sure he does not cause more pain or divide people further through race. However, he does not shy away to put his point across and make his stand known.

Thirdly, Obama addresses the black Americans. As a matter of fact, he is aware that people see him as a black American. Therefore, the people are keen to see how he handles the issue of race.

His message for them does not show any favoritism of race. He notes that, ‘a similar anger exists within the segments of the white community’ (Obama Par. 35). While addressing them, he explains at length that there existed a general feeling among the white when the blacks got better services. The feeling was that of paying for mistakes they did not commit.

Obama shows his wealth of knowledge on the issue that affects people of America. He selects his words carefully while addressing racism that has for many decades affected American people He crafts his speech to be convincing and instead of the issue of race eliciting pain, this time it soothes. The audience is rather calm and does not elicit any aggressive emotions. This is a clear demonstration that he knew his audience well and their needs.

Obama then makes his point clear, aiming to give a solution to the challenges faced by the people of America. He cautions the American people from thinking that forgetting about racism would solved the problem.

The message contained in his speech is that of peace and unity. He wants them to learn to live with one another and appreciate differences in race. Obama ensures that he has addressed the two groups equally so that he unites them together as one people and one audience. He further discusses at length the importance for Americans to speak in one voice and work together in unity.

Rhetorical Fallacies in A More Perfect Union Speech

In his speech, ‘A More perfect Union’ Obama’s opening statements reveals the purpose the speech intended to meet. Obama obtains his first statement from the United States Constitution, ‘We the people, in order to create a perfect union’ (Obama par. 1.). These words reframe and capture the rationale of the Constitution.

Obama employs three rhetoric strategies in his speech. His speech rest upon: emotional, ethical and logical fallacies. He identifies himself with his audience persuasion. The famous quotes he derives from the constitution, makes even those who do not know the constitution, feel the importance of messages communicated (Stoner & Perkins 93).

His audience is aware of racism and Obama speaks of what has generally been unspoken. He achieves his philosophies by speaking facts, about his biological, intellectual and cultural life. The senator speaks about his background and does not deny his race; however, he does not bring it up in the speech (Ifill 54). Burke notes that, Senator Obama accomplishes his speech through, body language, variation of tones and gestures (78).

In his speech, Obama criticizes Americans’ old stain of slavery. He praises the constitution though uncompleted and assures his audience that the solutions to their problems were in the constitution. According to the senator, the constitution has stains due to nation’s original sin of slavery (Obama par.3), ‘…and the underlying roots of inequality and division in America’ (3).

Obama feels that the constitution provided ‘the answer to the slavery question… ‘a Constitution that promised people liberty and justice a lie that he says has been perfected over time’(4). He continues to add that the promises made on the paper were unaccomplished. Towards the end of his speech, Obama tells a story about Ashley. ‘ I am here because of Ashley’ (59). He uses this compelling and appealing approach of a moving and memorable story to seek sympathy from the voters.

Obama also uses repetition as a rhetoric approach to persuade his supporters. In his speech Paragraph 45, he pleads with his audience not to accept to be divided along their areas of weakness. In his entire speech, there is a constant repetition of the word race. In paragraph 26, he identifies race as a problem in the American society.

He says ‘But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now (Obama para. 26). In paragraph 45, he believes that the nation could deal with race by assuring his listeners and saying ‘We can tackle race only as spectacle (45). Other preceding paragraphs also explain the evils caused by racism. This, he uses to express his disapproval of racism in America and encourages people to live and work together to solve challenges created by racism

Obama uses various strategies to connect with the targeted audience. His persuasive appeal proves he is a successful writer and a speaker. His unquestionable ability to move and convince his audience using compelling and sufficient evidence like the constitution, his pastor and his family leaves one fully convinced.

Obama expresses a sense of disappointment over what he calls the ‘unfinished’ document. Actually, he uses a tone of deep disappointments to disapprove slavery (Obama Para. 6.). In fact, an ironical tone is felt when he says slave trade continued for decades and the burden left for to the generation to come. Therefore, his ability to pass his intended information using the application of different stylistic devices is achieved.

Obama changes his tone and uses direct tone. He says..‘I believe deeply we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve the together’ (Obama para. 6.) There is directness in his speech, which continues with to the end, he makes unity a constant remainder in the rest of the speech.

In his speech, Obama sets to give assurance and hope to his supporters. He uses encouraging words like ‘we can do that’ (46), ‘We can tackle race only as spectacle….’ (45) and ‘we can come together and say, “Not this time.”’ (48). By the end of the speech, it is clear where he derives his campaign slogan ‘Yes we can’ and what it meant to all Americans.

This extensive argumentative analysis has revealed that Obama used different rhetorical elements to talk cautiously about a topic on race that many would not dare to discuss. As a matter of fact, Obama’s ability to give a complex and a convincing speech is evident. From the analysis, we can conclude that, Obama is a successful writer and speaker who knew his audience needs. He employed the use of different figures in speech and stylistic devices to pass sound messages to people without any incidents.

Burke, Kenneth. (1966). Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method . Berkeley: University of California Press. Print.

Ifill, Gwen. (2009). The breakthrough: Politics and race in the age of Obama . New York: Doubleday. Print.

Obama, Barack. (2010). Transcript of Obama speech . Web.

Stoner, Mark. & Perkins, Sally. (2005). Making Sense of Messages: A Critical Apprenticeship in Rhetorical Criticism . Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Print.

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