5 Things You Didn’t Know About Barack Obama

Four debates and countless campaign stops later, voters have learned much about their candidates' positions, policies, and personalities. Or have they?

By Caitlin O'Connell
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    He learned not to sling mud from ...his mom.

    Although he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Barack Obama spent four years of his childhood in Indonesia. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, instilled in her young son a deep sense of respect, a particularly important value in Indonesian culture. Obama's sister opened up on this period of their lives for a New York Times story, and describes how even as children they adopted this Indonesian custom: "We were not permitted to be rude, we were not permitted to be mean, we were not permitted to be arrogant. We had to have a certain humility and broad-mindedness." 

    Photo credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

    His parents predicted his presidency.

    Obama's mother always realized her son's potential, and told a friend from Hawaii she believed he could be president of the United States. One of Obama's teachers in Indonesia recounts a conversation between young Barry and his stepfather, Lolo. When Lolo asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, Obama responded, "Oh, prime minister."

    Photo credit:
    Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project/Wikimedia Commons

    He's a poet (and we didn't know it).

    Journalist David Maraniss uncovered several of Obama's romantic correspondences for his book about the life of the President, Barack Obama: The Story. Obama's smooth words reveal the soft side of a young man in love. One such letter from 1983 to a one-time girlfriend, reported by Maraniss, describes New York City: "Moments trip gently along over here. Snow caps the bushes in unexpected ways, birds shoot and spin like balls of sound. My feet hum over the dry walks. A storm smoothes the sky, impounding the city lights, returning to us a dull yellow glow."

    Photo credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

    Seinfeld, Suzanne Vega, and ...

    Like most college students arriving in New York, Obama took up in a less-than-desirable apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side after transferring to Columbia University. To escape his living situation, where heat and hot water were in limited supply, Obama often went for breakfast with his roommate at Tom's Diner (the outside setting of Monk's, the Seinfeld characters' favorite meeting place).

    Photo credit: Fogster/Wikimedia Commons

    His students got a preview of his presidency.

    Before he became the junior senator from Illinois, Obama taught for 12 years at the University of Chicago Law School, where he honed in his skills as a future politician. In the classroom he was easy-going, joking with students and interspersing movie references with case law. It wasn't until after Obama entered the political arena that his U. Chicago colleagues and students recognized themes of his campaign that had originated in the classroom.

    Photo credit: Hiperpato/Wikimedia Commons

    Your Comments

    • Revmusicians

      Finally I could read the comments about Romney.  When I first tried the page would not come up.  I tried several times and each time it refused to show what the writer had to say about Mitt. I had to get up at 3 am eastern standard time to review what you had to say about him.  Why was this the case?  Were you trying to hide anything positive about him before the election?  

    • JB-TN

      Fluff piece. Here are 5 things we don’t know: 1) his real birth certificate; 2) his college records; 3) how he got a Connecticut dead man’s soc. sec. number; 4) how he was able to go to Pakistan in 1980 when that country was on the no-travel list; and 5) how a guy who never held a job could be elected President.

    • JB-TN

      Fluff piece. Here are 5 things we don’t know: 1) his real birth certificate; 2) his college records; 3) how he got a Connecticut dead man’s soc. sec. number; 4) how he was able to go to Pakistan in 1980 when that country was on the no-travel list; and 5) how a guy who never held a job could be elected President.

    • JB-TN

      Fluff piece. Here are 5 things we don’t know: 1) his real birth certificate; 2) his college records; 3) how he got a Connecticut dead man’s soc. sec. number; 4) how he was able to go to Pakistan in 1980 when that country was on the no-travel list; and 5) how a guy who never held a job could be elected President.

    • PaulCT

      Hmmm, our poor excuse for a President was taught by his Mom … 
      1. Not to sling mud?
      2. Not permitted to be rude or mean?
      3. Not permitted to be arrogant?!?!?! … he sets a new high for arrogance … 
      I think he forgot, a long time ago, what he was taught.

    • Original Non Believer

      He learned not to sling mud.  That’s a joke.  He has spent more time mud slinging at Romney in
      this campaign than he has telling us what he is gonna do in the future.  Make that what he is
      fantasizing about doing for the country.  He lost me when he refused to place his hand over his heart for our anthem.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mary.correll.161 Mary Correll

      I don’t care what they were taught, Obama is a liar, he gurt our economy, he , along with his wife use our AirForce One which comes out of the taxpayers money. They owe Hawaii money for their trip there. You perhaps followed your mother’s instructions, but he sure left them far behind.

    • M3llomatt82

      “We were not permitted to be rude, we were not permitted to be mean, we
      were not permitted to be arrogant. We had to have a certain humility and
      broad-mindedness.” LMAO

      • David Dunlap

        what a joke, the most arrogant a.h. I have ever seen!

    • Cristina Mazara

      I cannot scroll, so I only get to read # 1! :(

      • MMinCC

        That was the whopper anyway.

    • Anonymous

      Commie, Racist, Muslim, Really Stupid, only half black

      • Rnbwgrove

        Commie,
         My name is Carol wadsworth
        Please do not say mean words about other people becouse they are all different in gods eye and made them special just like you and i no matter what there body typ is all you can do is pray with respect and to me he Cares about our world with respect Carol Wadsworth

      • Spencerc

        You say Mr. Obama is a racist. Then you say he is only half black. So you’re measuring his value on the color of his skin? Do you think you might be a racist?? Are you aware of Mr. Romney’s business practices? Keep your eyes on upcoming lawsuits in Delaware. The courts could come back with a decision of innocent, but I’m not giving my vote to anybody with that business background. I don’t care if he’s black, white, or green with purple spots. I just care about character. The inside stuff.

        • David Dunlap

          he has NO value!

        • MMinCC

          Hey bub, what ever happened to those “upcoming” lawsuits? HAHAHAHA Like all ObamaBots, you swallowed all his BS hook, line and sinker.

          The first one was priceless BTW, “he learned not to sling mud…” What a GD joke-the most insulting and divisive president in my lifetime.

        • Paul621

          Replying to your “comment” that you care about character and wouldn’t vote for Romney … ARE YOU KIDDING ? Keep drinking the Kook-Aid (spelling intentional).