For those of us who didn’t receive a holiday card from President Obama , here’s what this year’s card looks like:
Dear gentle blog reader,
Between the US and French presidential elections, it’s been an interesting week, especially regarding the candidates’ wives and former girlfriends. On the one hand, we’ve got John Edwards and the courtroom testimony as to how cold and unfeeling he was toward his long-suffering late wife, Elizabeth:
But her grown daughter, Cate Edwards, fled that room in tears Wednesday, just ahead of testimony about the terrible day that Elizabeth, having read about her husband’s love life in the National Enquirer, ripped off her shirt and bra in an airplane hangar and stood bare-chested before him and the world, crying, “You don’t see me any more.”
In a sharp contrast to the “you deserve a prison sentence for your crimes and a life sentence in hell for what you did to Elizabeth” Edwards, we have Mitt Romney. Say what you will about him, Mitt’s has been there for his wife, Ann, throughout her cancer and MS ordeals, which says an awful lot about his character and marriage.
Obama’s ex-girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, has come out of the closet — though I wish she hadn’t — to share her diaries with the world in Dave Maraniss’ “Barack Obama: The Story”.
Is it me, or does Barack look a lot happier with Genevieve than he does with his wife? When he’s around Michelle, Obama’s smile is forced and he always looks so pensive, like a little dog with his tail between his legs.
Finally, there’s Sarko in France. His wife, model Carla Bruni, embodied European chic:
Now, I guess to convince the masses that she’s just your average, middle-class, middle-aged wife and mother, Carla Bruni’s now adopted the overweight hausfrau style. Carla, Carla, Carla, how could you let yourself be photographed looking like this:
My best guess is that if Sarkozy doesn’t get re-elected next week, he and Carla will divorce — they’re just not that into each other unless there’s power, status, and a camera pointed their way. But there’s one good thing that might happen if Sarkozy doesn’t win: Maybe Carla Bruni will dig out her makeup, elegant clothing, and high heels, and start looking like her fabulous self again!
Here’s more on the stories:
What we might learn — but can’t know — from a candidate’s wife and girlfriends
Filed under: politics | Tagged: Ann Romney, Barack Obama, Carla Bruni, Elizabeth Edwards, Genevieve Cook, John Edwards, Michelle Obama, Mitt Romney, Sarkozy, What we can learn from a candidate's wives and girlfriends, What's with the candidate's wives and girlfriends? | Leave a Comment »
VP-elect Joe Biden has a new puppy, a 3-month old German Shepherd:
The puppy doesn’t have a name yet. How about “Lipstick”? ;–)
Filed under: news of the day, politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, Biden--German Shepherd, Biden--new puppy, Joe Biden, VP-elect Joe Biden has a new puppy--a 3-month old German Shepherd | Leave a Comment »
Happy Thanksgiving, gentle blog reader–
Here’s an interesting article about Michelle Obama and how, as a woman, she learned she wasn’t going to get what she wanted in her marriage to Barack. Be sure to check out her hairstyles over the years, and be sure to note interesting passages like this one:
In 1981, Michelle arrived at Princeton University in New Jersey to read sociology. When the mother of one of her room-mates found out her daughter had been assigned to a room with a black girl, she spent the night calling everyone she knew on campus trying to get her daughter moved.
Here’s the story:
She’s the boss; gotta check with the boss, is Barack Obama’s standard comment, reinforcing his wife’s image as the coolly impressive power behind the new U.S. President-elect.
Indeed, some say Michelle Obama is even smarter than her husband. Well organised and a formidable list-maker, she can be forceful and at times intimidating. Former colleagues describe her as a better boss than an employee.
Barack and Michelle’s united ambition has taken them to the pinnacle of power. But as she oversees the packing for the move to Washington, Michelle surely cannot help but reflect that had her husband been prepared to do as she had once demanded, his career in politics would have been over before it had even begun.
Who’s the boss? Michelle is the second child of Fraser and Marian Robinson, a working-class family from Chicago’s south side, but went on to study at Princeton and Harvard Universities. Barack Obama and Michelle married in 1992
Less than ten years ago, Michelle was decidedly hostile about her husband’s political ambitions.
‘She did not like politics. She did not want him to run for office. I know this because Barack told me,’ says Newton Minow, a lawyer and one of the couple’s oldest and closest friends.
Barack and Michelle have suffered from that problem of many a modern marriage: the clash of two careers with the demands of raising children. They may have started out as a collaborative partnership, but from the moment their daughter Malia was born, in July 1998, the balance tipped.
Proud moment: Michelle Obama, wife of US President-elect Barack Obama, at her graduation
Barack was full of good intentions – an adoring father, willing and charmingly clueless – but he was unswervingly determined to pursue his political career.
Michelle recalls them agreeing early in their marriage that their children would have ‘the kind of dinner-together-every-night childhood’ she had enjoyed. But they would never have that kind of household, not even briefly.
She had married a man who was operating on an accelerated timetable. ‘There are times when I want to do everything and be everything,’ he once confessed. ‘I want to have time to read and swim with the children and not disappoint my voters and do a careful job on each and every thing that I do. And that can sometimes get me into trouble. That’s been one of my bigger faults.’
He may have recognised the fault, but he didn’t seek to correct it – so it was always going to be Michelle who would find it impossible to have it all. While Barack spent three nights a week in the state legislature or campaigning, it was Michelle who combined work with caring for Malia, getting her up in the mornings and reading to her at night.
By the time Sasha was born in 2001, Michelle had had enough. ‘You only think about yourself,’ she told her husband. ‘I never thought I would have to raise a family alone.’
She urged him to take a job outside politics, but her pleas were futile. ‘Her displeasure – or, simply, loneliness – was not something he took lightly, but it didn’t keep him from doing what he wanted to do,’ says Martha Minow, Barack’s professor of law at Harvard.
To understand Michelle’s frustrations and early antipathy to politics, you have to understand the world she came from. Now 44, she is the second child of Fraser and Marian Robinson, a working-class family from Chicago’s south side.
Chicago was a segregated city in the Sixties and Seventies under Democrat mayor Richard J. Daley. He preserved segregation through a system in which a handful of African Americans were rewarded for helping to keep the others subjugated. Michelle’s father was almost certainly part of that system.
Fraser was a caretaker at the city’s water department, but he was also a volunteer precinct captain – a powerful neighbourhood leader for the Democratic Party whose job was to get people to the polls on election day.
In waiting: President-elect Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in Chicago. Initially, Michelle was hostile about her husband’s political ambitions
A city job was particularly valuable to an African American in that it insulated him from the racism of the open job market. Toward the end of his career, Fraser would have been earning more than £24,000 a year. His wages meant that, although black women rarely had the option of being stay-at-home mothers, Marian could, and did.
Michelle talks movingly about how important her father’s job was to him. Despite being diagnosed in his 30s with multiple sclerosis, he never stopped working – even when on crutches and in a wheelchair.
But for all the pride Michelle took in her father’s professional dedication, she witnessed first hand how the system bought and protected you, but also controlled you.
In 1981, Michelle arrived at Princeton University in New Jersey to read sociology. When the mother of one of her room-mates found out her daughter had been assigned to a room with a black girl, she spent the night calling everyone she knew on campus trying to get her daughter moved.
Bright: But can Barack Obama turn around the world’s fortunes?
‘I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I will always be black first and a student second,’ Michelle said. After graduating cum laude (with honour), she went on to Harvard and in her second year was hired by the corporate law firm Sidley Austin. Two years later, in 1989, a new member of staff arrived: Barack Obama.
Hearing his name and the fact he had been raised in Hawaii, she assumed he would be ‘nerdy, strange, off-putting’ and resolved to dislike him.
When the firm appointed her to be adviser and mentor to Obama, she felt self-conscious. She thought it would be ‘tacky’ if, as ‘the only two black people here’, they started to date. But her resistance did not last long. During that summer, their colleague Mary Carragher remembers that she would go to Michelle’s office to talk about a case and see the two of them chatting. ‘I could tell by the body language he was courting her,’ she says.
Barack and Michelle married in 1992. By then, she had entered public service, working in economic development for the Chicago city government, and he was working at a civil rights law firm. He had spent his first six months after graduating from Harvard on a voter registration drive targeting low-income African Americans – reminiscent of what Michelle’s father had done as precinct captain.
It was so successful that it helped Bill Clinton win Illinois. Three years later, Obama told his wife he wanted to enter politics. ‘I was like: “No, don’t do it, we’re just married, why would you want to do this?”‘ said Michelle.
Barack argued that you have to start changing the world somewhere, so you may as well start by running for the Illinois state senate, which he won.
‘You know, Barack is convincing and passionate,’ Michelle told me. ‘You have this conversation – we could build a comfortable life for ourselves.
We’ve gone to the right schools and have all these advantages, [but] look around: most of my family are not in the position I am. It isn’t enough for the Obamas to be OK, and for ours kids to be OK, knowing that the chasms are so vast. Eventually, my conscience said: “OK, you’re right, we do have an obligation”.’
Generous: Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, distributing Thanksgiving turkeys in Chicago this week
At first, Michelle was happy with her husband’s political success.
She still no real understanding of how a political career would affect their marriage or their home life.
‘That’s the usual arc,’ says Abner Mikva, a former U.S. congressman and judge, who became one of Obama’s closest advisers. ‘The wives are pleased, but then the burdens begin to get more and more. There was the struggle of her trying to maintain a family life and some relationship, not only between them, but especially when the children came along, trying to make sure he was performing some of the roles as father. The higher up he went, the harder it became.’
As well as spending three nights away from home whenever the Illinois legislature was in session, Barack was teaching law part-time and engaging in political networking when back in Chicago.
Life was relentless for both of them and by the end of 1999, following the birth of Malia, Michelle had been functioning largely as a single parent for 18 months.
To all around them, it was evident that cracks in their marriage were beginning to show. That Christmas, the Obamas travelled to visit Barack’s beloved grandmother in Hawaii. It was a trip they usually loved, but that year they were barely on speaking terms.
The following spring, Barack lost a bid for a Congressional seat in Washington. ‘He would always tell his wife I’m going to give it one shot and if it doesn’t work out, I’m going to go to work in the private sector,’ says Dan Shomon, Barack’s political consultant and confidant.
But Michelle could see a pattern and she’d had enough. Barack had been offered the chairmanship of a foundation, a well-paid job.
‘Michelle wanted him to take it,’ says Newton Minow.
The job offered much-needed financial security – something that would help redress another growing imbalance in their marriage.’
Family union: Barack Obama his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha during a rally at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Missouri
While Barack was pursuing his political goals, Michelle was bringing in the money. But they were struggling.
They both had student loans and Barack was compounding their debt by putting professional expenses on his credit card and neglecting to claim reimbursement.
The foundation job would have given the Obamas the chance of the normal family life Michelle craved. But it was not to be.
Barack turned it down. His decision could have proved a breaking point for their marriage, but fortunately for him Michelle suddenly accepted the things she could not change, such as Barack’s nature.
In 2001, she gave birth to their second daughter Sasha and started a new job in public relations for the University of Chicago hospitals. She was breast-feeding, and, with no childcare had no choice but to take the baby to work with her.
Forthright: Michelle Obama speaks during a working women’s round table discussion in Michigan
She contemplated giving up work, but decided to take control at home in a different way.
‘This was the epiphany,’ she said. ‘I am sitting there with a new baby, angry, tired and out of shape. The baby is up for that 4am feed. And my husband is sleeping.’
If she left, she told herself, Barack would have to cope. So she started going to the gym at 4.30am – in part to get in shape, but also to force Barack to deal with the children.
‘I’d get home from the gym, and the girls would be up and fed. That was something I had to do for me.’
She had realised she could not live her life being resentful; it would wreck her and poison their relationship. So she put together a support system, hiring a housekeeper to do the laundry, cooking and cleaning, and got her mother to help with baby-sitting.
Finally, she was acknowledging that it mattered ‘less to me that Barack was the one babysitting and giving me the time for myself; it was that I was getting the time.’
It was a good thing Michelle was able to make it work because in mid-2002, her husband announced he was going to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
During this intense period, he would estimate he had taken seven days off in 18 months. That the Obamas survived as a family is a testament to Michelle’s flexibility and stamina.
‘Are you going to run for President?’ Malia, then six, asked her father in 2004 after he was elected to the U.S. senate. It was the question on everyone’s mind.
Instead of becoming a senator’s wife in Washington, Michelle had chosen to stay in Chicago because her support network – her mother and her friends – were there.
Obama would later write about how much he missed his family. His career was underway, but he had paid for it in terms of domestic ease and routine family happiness.
Their financial problems went away, however, thanks to his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. In 2005, with the royalties from that first book and a $2million advance for future ones, the Obamas were able to buy a $1.6million mansion. For the first time in their lives, they were debt-free.
‘That’s a new experience for us in our 40s,’ Michelle said. She kept a family journal for her husband and bought webcams for him and their daughters, but no longer expected their lives to be less hectic.
Warm: Sasha Obama blows a kiss to her dad as he addresses the gathering via satellite at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Michelle Obama and Malia share the stage with her
She was also unfazed by another inevitable aspect of her husband’s rising profile – female competition. ‘I never worry about things I can’t affect, and with fidelity… that is between Barack and me, and if somebody can come between us, we didn’t have much to begin with.’
Valerie Jarrett, one of Michelle’s oldest friends, puts it a little more vividly. ‘He knows that if he messes up, she’ll leave him. She’ll kill him first – and then she’ll leave him. And I think there is a subtle element of fear on his part, which is good.’
Shortly before Christmas 2006, Barack met Newton Minow and Abner Mikva to discuss his potential presidential candidacy. Minow recalls Obama saying: ‘Michelle’s not keen about this.’ Mikva sees it more that Michelle wanted to be sure his campaign would be well run and was winnable. ‘It wasn’t that she didn’t want him to run, but she wanted to make sure that it was well organised,’ says Mikva.
‘That was her biggest concern – not that she was trying to stop him, but to make sure that if he did it, they had a chance of winning.’
Michelle’s most vivid and successful speeches over the past two years have been directed at women, focusing on the work-life balance. She freely says she doesn’t believe it is possible to have it all. Certainly, her career is nowon the backburner, but she has never been a career-driven woman in the conventional sense.
Social change is her passion – from race relations to the plight of working women – and Barack is the vehicle for that. She will expect a lot from him and when he takes over as U.S. President in January, Obama Barack will be the most powerful man in the world – but it won’t stop him checking everything with the woman he refers to as the Boss.
ADAPTED from Michelle: A Biography by Liza Mundy, published by Simon & Schuster on December 1 at £16.99. © Liza Mundy 2008
It’s been said that “behind every successful man there’s a strong woman.” Barack Obama’s been blessed with several strong women in his family. Here’s a fascinating article about the strong and wonderful in Barack Obama’s world. (I especially liked how he called his grandmother “Toot” and she called him “Bar”):
Madelyn Dunham, maternal grandmother
On Monday, the day before he was elected, Barack Obama stood before a crowd of swaying supporters in the North Carolina drizzle and said of the grandmother who helped to bring him up: “She’s gone home. She died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side … I’m not going to talk about it too long because it is hard for me.”
The death of Obama’s maternal grandmother – within a whisker of his historic victory – seems especially cruel when you consider the influence she had on him. Obama lived in Hawaii with the woman he called Toot (a shortening of “tutu”, the Hawaiian word for grandmother) and his grandfather, Stanley Dunham, throughout his adolescence. It was his grandmother, he once said, who “taught me about hard work. She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.”
Born in 1922, Dunham was raised in Kansas, and worked as an aircraft inspector during the second world war, before studying at the University of California, Berkeley. When her husband’s job took the family to the 50th state, she went to work at the Bank of Hawaii and, at a time when women were in an even smaller minority in finance than today, she become one of the bank’s first female vice presidents. As one of her former colleagues recently recalled, “She was a top-notch executive to get appointed. It was a tough world.”
Her relationship with her grandson wasn’t entirely straightforward. In his landmark speech on race earlier this year, he noted that she was someone who “loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe”. Still, he said, he couldn’t disown her- she was part of an older world that held fast to views his election will hopefully help quash.
“What Toot believed kept her going were the needs of her grandchildren and the stoicism of her ancestors,” Obama once wrote. “‘So long as you kids do well, Bar,’ she would say more than once, ‘that’s all that really matters.’”
Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, mother
Obama has said that his biggest mistake was not being at his mother’s bedside in 1995 when she died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53. In his memoir, Dreams From My Father, he wrote: “Had I known she would not survive her illness, I might have written a different book – less a meditation on the absent parent, more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in my life. I know that she was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known.”
Born on an army base in 1942, Stanley Ann Dunham was named after her furniture salesman father, who had wanted a boy. Her father’s job took the family from Kansas to California to Texas, before ending up in Hawaii, where Stanley Ann enrolled at the state university. Here, aged 18, she met Barack Hussein Obama, a Kenyan student. Within a few months they were married and she was pregnant. The marriage didn’t last. Before her son was one, his father and namesake had left to study for a PhD at Harvard and the couple were soon divorced.
Obama’s mother was, by all accounts, intelligent, idealistic and strongly concerned with social justice. After a few years out of college, she returned to the University of Hawaii, where she met her second husband, Lolo Soetoro – she and Barack followed him home to Indonesia in the late 1960s. There she taught English and, anxious that her son wasn’t being challenged at school, began waking him at 4am each day to teach him from a US correspondence course. “This is no picnic for me either, buster,” she said, when he questioned the punishing schedule.
Her second marriage brought her a daughter, Maya, but ended in divorce in 1980. In the meantime, Soetoro had fallen in love with Javanese culture. She eventually gained a PhD in Indonesian anthropology and helped to build a microfinance programme in Indonesia that has been described as her greatest professional achievement, a network of small loans for the country’s impoverished entrepreneurs. Nancy Barry, who worked with Soetoro in the early 1990s, has said that “she was a very, very big thinker”.
In a Time magazine profile of Soetoro earlier this year, Obama said that he felt his mother had “a certain combination of being very grounded in who she was, what she believed in. But also a certain recklessness. I think she was always searching for something. She wasn’t comfortable seeing her life confined to a certain box.” In reaching far beyond the usual boundaries, she showed her son what might just be possible.
Maya Soetoro-Ng, half-sister
If anyone might be expected to dish some amusing dirt, it’s a presidential candidate’s kid sibling. But during the campaign, Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, nine years his junior, emerged as one of his most articulate supporters. The high-school history teacher with a PhD in education has described Obama as “the strong male force” in her life after her parent’s divorce. He helped her to tour prospective colleges, lectured her for reading gossip magazines and took her to her first voter-registration drive. An outspoken feminist herself, Soetoro-Ng believes her brother firmly supports women’s rights. “I’ve been calling him a feminist for the last year,” she says. “People laugh, but I think it’s true.”
Auma Obama, half-sister, and Sarah Obama, step-grandmother
Barack Obama has six surviving half-siblings on his father’s side, and he is particularly close to his older sister, Auma Obama, who grew up in Kenya. Barack wrote to Auma after their father’s death in 1982, and she has said that the letter astonished her: “Barack had the same handwriting as my dad and the same name. It was eerie.”
They corresponded for a while, before meeting up in Chicago, where Barack was working as a community activist. “There was a lot of apprehension,” says Auma. “I had a plan B in case it didn’t work out, but … we just didn’t stop talking when we met – it was absolutely as if we’d lived together all our lives.” In Dreams From My Father, Barack wrote that on meeting her he knew “that I loved [Auma] so naturally, so easily and fiercely that later, after she was gone, I would find myself mistrusting that love”.
In 1988, Barack Obama made his first trip to Africa to visit his father’s family, spending some weeks travelling around Kenya with Auma. It was on this journey that he met Sarah Obama – aka Mama Sarah – his step-grandmother, who had brought up his father from the age of nine. Now 86, Mama Sarah provides an ongoing link to his Kenyan roots, and has paid tribute to his caring, considerate nature. On hearing that he had won, she declared herself “so happy that I don’t know if I will die of happiness!”
Michelle Obama, wife
From the start of Obama’s campaign it was clear that his partner, Michelle, was never going to fit the old stereotype of an adoring political wife. Instead, in the early days on the trail, her speeches were peppered with references to his failure to clear up his socks or put away the butter – comments that were criticised by some, but which also made her seem refreshingly human. She underlined that theirs is a marriage of equals.
That is fitting for such an accomplished woman. Michelle Robinson grew up in a small bungalow on the south side of Chicago, with her brother, Craig, stay-at-home mother, Marian, and father, Fraser, who carried on supporting the family as a water pump operator after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Michelle followed her brother to Princeton and then went to Harvard Law School and on to a corporate law firm, Sidley and Austin. There she met Barack Obama, when he arrived for a summer job. She was initially his mentor and it apparently took some time for him to persuade her to go on their first date – a trip to see Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing.
Soon after seeing her future husband speak passionately about social issues at a community event, Michelle started to reassess what she wanted to do with her life. She left corporate law to start a career in public service, which led to her becoming a vice president at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She gave up the role last year when her campaign schedule became tougher. While right-wing commentators have tried to stir up doubts about her patriotism, she has been a huge asset on the trail, delivering 45-minute speeches, written herself and delivered without notes.
Keen to ensure that her daughters, Malia and Sasha, are as protected as possible, Michelle has said that she is now focused on being “Mom-in-chief”, though she will also, no doubt, be a crucial informal adviser to her husband. Competitive, clever, stylish and grounded, Michelle Obama’s story is just as potent as the president elect’s. “The truth is,” as she noted on the campaign trail, “I’m not supposed to be here. I’m a statistical oddity. Black girl, brought up on the south side of Chicago. Was I supposed to go to Princeton? No. They said maybe Harvard Law was too much for me to reach for. But I went, I did fine.” There’s no doubt about that.
Malia and Sasha Obama, daughters
The best thing about Malia and Sasha is that, at 10 and seven respectively, we know so little about them. The second best thing is that what we do know suggests that they are normal. They want a puppy. Malia says her Dad sometimes embarrasses her. She’s looking forward to decorating her new room. She thinks her Dad sometimes wears silly clothes. In short, they seem fantastic.
Filed under: news of the day, politics | Tagged: "Toot"--Barack's maternal grandmother, Auma Obama, Barack Obama, Barack's father, Barack's maternal grandmother, Barack's mother, Lolo Soetoro, Madelyn Dunham, Malia and Sasha Obama, Maya Soetoro, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Michelle Obama, Sarah Obama, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro | Leave a Comment »
Hello, gentle blog reader,
It’s hard to imagine anyone naming their child “Barack,” but guess what? “Barack”‘s now “in”. Too bad for McCain and Palin–not only did they lose the election, but they lost the baby naming contest too!
Decontee Williams was so excited by Barack Obama’s victory on Tuesday night that she started jumping up and down — and went into labor. Twelve hours later, Barack Jeilah was born at Phoenix Baptist Hospital to Williams and Prince Jeilah. The baby was 8 pounds 9 ounces and had a full head of hair.
“I love Barack Obama, and I love the name,” said Williams, 31, who came to the United States as a refugee from Liberia in 2003. “In Africa, we call it a blessing. That is a good name.”
In the last week, Barack, Obama, Michelle, Malia and Sasha have become inspirations for first and middle names across the United States, according to news reports. But the Obama baby boom has been even more pronounced in Kenya, particularly in Kisumu, an area in the western part of the country where relatives of Obama live.
From Election Day through Saturday afternoon, 43 children born at the Nyanza Provincial Hospital in Kisumu were named after the Obamas, with 23 boys given the first and middle name Barack Obama and 20 girls named Michelle Obama.
Pamela Odhiambo, who gave birth to a girl during Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, named her Michelle Obama. “It’s a new start, a new beginning,” said Odhiambo, 18.
There have been other presidential naming trends in the past century, according to Social Security Administration data. Franklin jumped to No. 33 in 1933, up from No. 147 in 1931. Dwight surged in the 1950s and Lyndon in the 1960s. Theodore hit its peak in the first decade of the 20th century.
“Honoring new presidents with baby namesakes used to be an American tradition,” said Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard.” But she pointed out that the custom faded around the time of Watergate, in part because people became more cynical about the presidency.
Wattenberg said Barack and Obama might break that trend for a number of reasons. Blacks, particularly moved by Obama’s victory, tend to be more open to new names and to naming children after public figures. Also, Obama drew strong support from people of child-bearing age, and his name sounds fresh.
Obama has said that Barack has the same etymological roots as the Hebrew name Baruch, “one who is blessed.”
A shift away from traditional names has meant a decline in the prevalence of John, George, William and James, the popularity (or unpopularity) of presidents notwithstanding.
There is perhaps more hope for presidential surnames, as parents look for untraditional monikers with a classic flavor. Lincoln (for boys) and Kennedy and Reagan (for girls) jumped in popularity in the 1990s. But none of those can compare with the surge by Madison, which broke into the top 10 for girls in 1998 and peaked at No. 2. (Though that may have more to do with a mermaid in the movie “Splash” than a framer of the Constitution.)
And the names can also track the rise and fall of the public’s perception of presidents. Hoover came out of nowhere to land at No. 367 for boys’ names in 1928, the year Herbert Hoover was elected the 31st president. Then the Great Depression started, and it dropped to No. 945 in 1931. And Clinton, a top 200 baby name for boys in the 1970s and 1980s, still ranked No. 211 in 1992. By 1999, the year after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, it had sunk to No. 664.
Even the most tainted presidencies have left a nomenclature mark. The Watergate president inspired some parents, at least overseas. In Venezuela, Nixon Moreno was one of the leaders behind student protests two years ago.
Then again, his co-organizer was Stalin González.
Filed under: news of the day | Tagged: "Barack" "Michelle" "Malia" "Sasha" now popular baby names, "Barack" a hot baby name, "Barack" a hot name for babies, "Barack" a popular baby name, Barack Obama | Leave a Comment »
Good morning and TGIF!
Obama posted some piks of the behind-the-scenes happenings on Election night:
Filed under: politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, behind-the-scenes photos of Obama on Election night, Election night photos, election night photos of Obama, Obama, obama's personal photos from election night, obama's personal photos of election night, Obama's private photos of Election night, obama's recent photos, obama--private photos--election night, sneak peek photos of Obama on Election night | 2 Comments »
Is there anything now that can stop Obama riding this unusual wave of time, chance and ability all the way to the White House? More…
Hello, gentle blog readers,
Until the US dollar plunged 2 years ago (sending 1000′s of expats like me reluctantly back across the pond), I used to live near London. Though I am stateside these days, I still enjoy reading the British press, which is fascinated by Americans and our politics. Take this article commentary by the Times of London columnist Gerard Baker:
“Is he lucky?” was supposedly Napoleon’s dispositive inquiry about ambitious officers. Barack Obama would surely pass the little general’s test.
The financial gale that has blown through the American landscape in the past month has upended the presidential race, ripped the roof off John McCain’s Straight Talk Express, propelled Mr Obama gently aloft and landed him, feet first, on the threshold of the White House.
And, Baker concludes as follows:
The least we can say is this. To win now, Mr McCain would require a stroke of improbable fortune greater than anything that has come Mr Obama’s way during his startlingly swift ascent.
Here’s the full article:
What do you think about Baker’s commentary?
P.S. One good thing about the lousy economy: The pound dropped below $1.70 yesterday! And, the Euro is falling against the $US too–$1.35. Who knows–maybe I can use those 125,000 miles in NWA frequent flyer miles I’ve racked up over the years!
Filed under: economy, politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, Gerard Baker, John McCain, Napoleon Would Approve of Obama, Obama Will Win, Times of London, US dollar makes gains against the pound and euro | Leave a Comment »