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'Forward': Barack Obama again rewrites history

Thursday November 08, 2012 12:58:57 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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Washington: Chanting "Yes We Can", Barack Hussein Obama made history four years ago as he became America's first African-American president. On Tuesday, he did it again to retain the world's most powerful office.

But the path to victory over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney for the son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother from Kansas with a "funny name", as Obama himself once put it, wasn't as easy this time around.

Catapulted to power on the slogan of 'hope' and 'change' with a landslide victory over Vietnam War veteran Republican John McCain then, he had lost some of that aura as he sought to capture the magic of 2008 with the new slogan of "Forward".

After winning the presidency for the second time, Obama said: "Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward."

"... It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

"... while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," he declared to deafening cheers of thousands of supporters at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.

Obama entered the fray with a no mean record - end of Iraq war, death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to a signature healthcare law and bringing the US out of the throes of a recession, yet a still slowly recovering economy and loss of tens of thousands of jobs threatened to bar his return and take the shine off some of his lofty campaign promises.

Many began derisively referring to him as a "fallen angel".

But some encouraging economic news in recent days - good jobs numbers, growing consumer confidence, improving housing market, a rising stock market and a display of cool leadership during superstorm Sandy helped him pull it off.

Born in Hawaii Aug 4, 1961, Obama was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton's army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank. He lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971 with his mother and her second husband.

After working his way through school with the help of scholarship money and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer before going on to Harvard Law School, where he was elected as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.

He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives in 2000.

Coming into limelight with a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, he won the Senate election in November 2004 before throwing his hat into the ring for the presidential race in February 2007 where after a bitter fight with former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won his party's nomination. The rest is history.

Just nine months into his presidency, catching the imagination of the world as he overcame challenges about his place of birth, his religion and his race, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples".

Initially opposed to the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal as a senator, Obama after election quickly warmed up to India and called the US-India relationship as one of the "defining and indispensable partnerships of the 21st century", which has become a catchphrase of his administration.

In Obama's second term, his Democratic party has vowed to "continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region".

The only beef that India had with Obama is his election cycle rant against outsourcing. But now that the dust of election has settled, one can expect India-US relationship to continue its upward trajectory with the two-way trade between them set to cross $100 billion this year.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at




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