Background on the Three Presidential Candidates

Tuesday, 27 May 2008 09:12 AM

By James Walsh

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Who’s on first, what’s on second, and I don’t know is on third.

— Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

As the 2008 presidential primary season is wearing down and wearing everyone out, a general concern is growing regarding the facts about the candidates.

With so many statements, counter-statements, conflicting dates, clarifications, apologies, technical corrections, definitions, re-definitions, vagaries, quotes, misquotes, studies, polls, and down-right personal fables, what are the facts?

Aside from the political pandering, what do we know for sure about the candidates?

As of this date, the primary season has three standing contenders, U.S. senators all: Barack Obama, D-Ill., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., John McCain, R-Ariz. The three share itinerant nomadic personal histories. Not one of them serves as a U.S. Senator from the place of their birth. Kaleidoscopic campaign personas, while effective in relating to a broad spectrum of voting groups, tend to leave voters confused.

A timeline may help clarify what we know for sure about these candidates who seek to hold the office of the U.S. president, the most powerful political position on earth. We begin with Senator Obama.

Barack Hussein Obama

1961. Barack, childhood nickname “Barry” or “Bar”, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961 to Barack Hussein Obama Sr., and Stanley Ann Obama. Ann and her parents Madelyn and Stanley Durham, originally from Kansas, lived in California, Texas, and Washington state before moving to Hawaii, where Ann attended the University of Hawaii.

There she met Barack Obama, a student from a Muslim family in Kenya, where he had a wife.

1963. Barack Obama, Sr., left Hawaii to seek a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University. Ann and 2-year-old Barack Jr. stayed with the Durhams in Honolulu.

1967. After obtaining a divorce from Barack Obama, Sr., Ann married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian Muslim, whom she met at the University of Hawaii. They moved to Jakarta, where Barack attended a Catholic school for two years, and his step-sister Maya was born.

1969. Barack transferred to the Besuki, a school in Betawi (colonial name for Jakarta), where he took classes in Indonesian.

1971. Barack, then 10 years old, left Jakarta to live with his grandparents in Honolulu and to attend the “elitist” Punahou School.

1974. Barack’s mother and sister returned to Hawaii.

1975. When Ann and Maya returned to Indonesia, Barack stayed with his grandparents in Honolulu. During his high school years at the Punahou School, Barack was influenced by the black poet Frank Marshall Davis, then living in Hawaii. His writings reflected a pro-Communist, anti-white, and anti-American bias, despite his marriage to a white Chicago socialite. Davis had been born in Kansas and raised not far from Barack’s grandfather, and the two men became friends.

1979. Barack enrolled at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif.

1981. Barack transferred to one of the “elitist” Ivy League schools, Columbia University in New York City.

1982. Barack received word of the death of his father from a car accident in Kenya.

1983. Graduating from Columbia, Barack took a job as a researcher with a Manhattan investment firm and was promoted to financial writer.

1985. Barack became a community organizer in Chicago. On the South Side, he worked with a coalition of black ministers, among them the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.

1987. Barack was accepted at the “elistist” Harvard Law School.

1988. Barack joined Wright’s church and began Harvard Law.

1990. Barack was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, the first African-American to do so. That summer, at the “elitist” Chicago-based Sidley Austin law firm, he was mentored by Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law.

1991. Barack graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. Random House Inc.-Times Books offered him a $100,000 advance to write his story. In Chicago, he worked on his book and was director of the Illinois Project Vote.

1992. Barack was a lecturer on Constitutional Law at the “elitist” University of Chicago Law School (1992-1996). He and Michelle married in October 1992.

1993. Barack joined the law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

1995. "Dreams from My Father: A Study of Race and Inheritance" by Barack was published by Random House Inc.-Times Books. His mother died that year.

1996. Barack, a Democrat, was elected to the Illinois state Senate, representing the “elitist” Hyde Park-South Shore area of Chicago. He was a senior lecturer on Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School (1996-2004).

1999. State Sen. Obama and Michelle had their first child, Malia Ann.

2000. State Sen. Obama ran in the primary for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to incumbent Bobby Rush.

2001. A second daughter, Natasha, was born to Barack and Michelle.

2004. State Sen. Obama ran for the U.S. Senate and was elected.

2005. Barack Obama was sworn in as U.S. senator D-Ill.

2006. Obama’s book, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the Dream," was published by Random House and Crown Publishing Group.

2007. U.S. Sen. Obama co-sponsored The Global Poverty Act of 2007 (S. 2433), proposing a tax on U.S. citizens to support United Nations poverty programs that would total $845 billion over 13 years; the bill is pending. In February, Barack announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency.

2008. U.S. Sen. Obama, who despite media claims never lived in Kansas, fights it out for the Democrat nomination.

Hillary Clinton

1947. Hillary Diane Rodman, a native of Chicago, was born to Dorothy Howell Rodman and Hugh Rodman on Oct. 26, 1947. Hugh Rodman was a small businessman and a Republican. Dorothy Rodman was a homemaker. The family attended the Methodist church.

1953. Hillary entered public grammar school.

1960. Hillary volunteered in the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon.

1961. Hillary entered Maine East High School.

1964. Hillary volunteered in the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater.

1965. Hillary graduated from Maine South Township High School as a National Merit Scholarship finalist. That fall, she entered the “elitist” Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she led the Young Republicans.

1969. Hillary, influenced by a liberal professor, had become a Democrat. Graduating with distinction in political science, she was the first student to deliver the Commencement Address at Wellesley, and her radical speech criticizing U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, R-Mass., attracted national attention. That fall, she entered the “elitist” Yale University Law School.

1971. Hillary began dating Bill Clinton, a native of Arkansas. That summer, she interned at one of the nation’s most radical law firms, Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein in Oakland, Calif.

1972. Hillary and Bill worked on the McGovern presidential campaign in Texas.

1973. Hillary and Bill graduated from Yale University Law School. She had completed a year of post-graduate work on children and medicine. Bill headed home to Arkansas, and Hillary headed to Washington, D.C., where she worked with the Childrens Defense Fund. In December 1973, she was hired by the House Judiciary Committee, Impeachment staff that was preparing impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, for whom she had once campaigned.

1974. The Impeachment staff was disbanded in August 1974, when President Nixon resigned. Having passed the Arkansas bar and failed the D.C. bar, Hillary moved to Arkansas. She joined Bill at the University of Arkansas Law School as a faculty member.

1975. Hillary and Bill married.

1976. Hillary worked for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Bill was elected Arkansas attorney general, and Hillary joined the “elitist” Rose Law Firm in Little Rock (1976-1992).

1977. President Carter appointed Hillary to a four-year term on the Board of the Legal Services Corporation (1977-1981), during which she served as chairman.

1978. Bill was elected Governor of Arkansas (1979-1981).

1980. Chelsea Clinton was born, and Bill Clinton lost a re-election campaign.

1982. Bill was re-elected Governor of Arkansas (1983-1992). Hillary chaired the Arkansas Education Standards Committee (1982-1992).

1985. Hillary was on the board of directors of TCBY (1985-1992).

1986. Hillary was on the board of Wal-Mart stores (1986-1992).

1987. Hillary chaired the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession (1987-1991).

1992. Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president.

1993. Bill Clinton was sworn is as U.S. president. Hillary headed an ill-fated universal healthcare project. In May 1993, an investigation began on the "Travelgate" scandal, arising from the firing of White House Travel Office employees.

1994. A New York Times article led to an investigation of the Whitewater controversy.

1996. Bill Clinton was re-elected president. Hillary’s book, "It Takes a Village," was published by Simon & Schuster.

1998. The Whitewater investigation was broadened to include the Lewinsky Scandal. In December 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives signed articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

1999. In February 1999, the U.S. Senate acquitted Bill Clinton on articles of impeachment.

2000. George Bush was elected U.S. President, and Hillary Clinton was elected U.S. Senator from New York.

2001. Hillary was the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

2002. Hillary voted for the Iraq War Resolution.

2003. Hillary’s book, "Living History," was published by Simon & Schuster.

2006. Hillary Clinton was re-elected U.S. senator, New York.

2007. A presidential exploratory committee was formed for Hillary Clinton, and she announced her candidacy for the presidency.

2008. U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, despite being anointed the early front-runner by the media, fights it out for the Democrat nomination.

John Sidney McCain III

1936. John Sidney McCain III was born on Aug. 29, 1936, to John Sidney McCain II and Roberta Wright McCain at Coco Solo U.S. Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone. His father, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was on active duty there. His grandfather, John Sidney McCain, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was an Admiral. John McCain II and his dad became the first pair of father-son four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy.

1942. John McCain III attended schools in different locations because of his father’s assignments.

1951. John enrolled in an “elitist” boarding school, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va.

1954. John entered the “elitist” United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

1958. John graduated from the Naval Academy after a contentious four years and trained as an “elitist” Navy aviator.

1960. John graduated from flight school and was assigned to various aircraft carriers.

1965. John married Carol Shepp and adopted her two young sons, Douglas and Andrew. John and Carol had a daughter, Sidney.

1966. In December, Lt. Cmdr. John McCain was assigned to the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Forrestal.

1967. His flights over Vietnam began. On July 29, 1967, aboard the carrier, John received fragmentary wounds from a bomb, while helping another pilot to escape a burning plane.

McCain volunteered for continued duty and was transferred to the U.S.S. Oriskany. On Oct. 26, 1967, while on his 23rd mission over Vietnam, McCain’s Skyhawk was shot down by a missile over Hanoi.

He suffered fractures of both arms and legs. Parachuting from the plane, he landed in Truc Bach Lake, where he was attacked by a mob. His shoulder was crushed by a rifle butt, and he suffered a bayonet wound.

1968. When his father was named commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese offered John a release. He refused, and the torture increased, with no medical care provided. When he refused to meet with anti-war groups, the torture intensified.

1973. On March 14, 1973, he and his fellow prisoners of war were released, and John’s medical rehabilitation began.

1974. John was assigned to the National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., and then was returned to flight status.

1976. John commanded a training squadron of Navy pilots at Pensacola, Fla.

1977. John served as a naval liaison to the U.S. Senate and learned the political and legislative workings of Congress. He is credited with obtaining congressional support for a supercarrier opposed by the Carter administration

1980. Following a separation, John’s marriage to Carol Shepp McCain ended in divorce in February 1980. He then married Cindy Hensley of Phoenix, Ariz.

1981. John retired on April 1, 1981, as a Navy captain. His had earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross.

1982. John was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s First District.

1984. John, known as a Reagan Republican, was re-elected easily. John and Cindy had a daughter, Meghan.

1986. When U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater retired, Arizona elected John McCain U.S. senator. John and Cindy had a son, John Sidney McCain IV.

1987. John was sworn in and served on the Armed Services Committee, the Commerce Committee, and the Committee for Native American Matters.

1988. John and Cindy had a second son James.

1991. The Senate Ethics Committee ruled that McCain’s actions regarding the Charles Keating, Jr., Home Loan Association scandal, were not improper.

1992. John was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote.

1993. John and Cindy, at the behest of Mother Teresa, adopt a Bangladesh baby girl they named Bridget.

1994. John was labeled a “maverick Republican” because of his work on a McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.

1998. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John fought “big tobacco.” In November, John was re-elected for a third term.

1999. On Sept. 27, 1999, in New Hampshire, John McCain announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. His book, Faith of My Fathers, was published by Easton Press.

2000. After losing the South Carolina primary, John withdrew from the campaign on March 9, 2000.

2001. John broke with the new George Bush Administration on some issues, but supported the War on Terror legislation.

2002. McCain supported the Iraq war efforts. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill passed.

2003. McCain and then Democrat Joe Lieberman introduced the Climate Stewardship Act, which was defeated.

2004. John was re-elected to a fourth term and began questioning the Secretary of Defense’s management of the Iraq war.

2005. John led the Senate “Gang of 14" to preserve the right of senators to filibuster judicial nominees, but only in extraordinary circumstances. He introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners, which passed 90 to 9.

2006. The McCain-Kennedy bill for comprehensive immigration reform, labeled “amnesty” by its critics, failed to pass.

2007. Comprehensive immigration reform legislation failed again. On April 25, 2007, in New Hampshire, John announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

2008. In March 2008, John won the number of delegates needed for the Republican presidential nomination. Despite devious media attacks, John McCain lives to fight another day.

In surveying the lives and accomplishments of these candidates, one conclusion is that the nation’s elitist institutions have done themselves proud.

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