Mike Kueber's Blog

August 5, 2012

Barack Obama, single mothers, and a village

Filed under: Culture,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:31 pm
Tags: , ,

A couple of months ago, a Facebook friend bragged that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were examples of what single mothers could do.  I suggested not only that she shouldn’t be glamourizing single motherhood, but also that Clinton and Obama were not the product of single mothers because neither woman was single long.  Furthermore, Obama was significantly raised by his grandparents.

Apparently my erstwhile Facebook friend (she unfriended me) is not the only one person who is biographically challenged when it comes to Barack Obama.  Today, the lead columnist for the Express-News, O. Ricardo Pimentel, wrote a puff piece on San Antonio’s mayor-cum-keynoter, Julian Castro.  In comparing Castro to Obama, Pimentel noted, “Both Castro and Obama are Harvard Law grads and from single-mom families.”  That may be true of Castro, but not Obama.  The Obama facts are:

  • February 2, 1961 – Stanley Dunham marries Kenyan foreign student Barack Obama, Sr.
  • August 4, 1961 – Barack Obama II is born.
  • September 1961 – Dunham moves to Seattle with her newborn son for college studies while Obama remains in Hawaii.
  • June of 1962 – Dunham returns to Hawaii with son; Obama graduates from U of Hawaii.   
  • September 1962 – Obama Sr. moves Massachusetts to attend Harvard.
  • January 1963 – Dunham begins her studies at the U of Hawaii, with her grandparents helping to raise Obama II.
  • January 1964 – Dunham and Obama divorce.
  • 1965 – Dunham marries Indonesian foreign student Lolo Soetoro.
  • 1966 – Soetoro returns to Indonesia.
  • October 1967 – Dunham joins Soetoro in Indonesia.
  • 1971 – Dunham sends Obama II to live with his grandparents in HI to start 5th grade at a prestigious private school, Punahou School.  
  • August 1972 – Dunham (and her daughter) returns to Hawaii for graduate study.
  • 1975 – Dunham (and her daughter) returns to Indonesia for anthropological field work, but Obama II decides to stay with his grandparents in Hawaii to finish high school at Punahou.   
  • November 5, 1980 – Dunham and Soetoro divorce.

“Single mom” can be defined in a variety of ways, depending on the level of support that a mother receives from grandparents/siblings or a man in the house,    and Obama II may truthfully say that his mother was “the dominant figure in my formative years,” but the facts are that Stanley Dunham was rarely the sole raiser of Obama II and often shared (with Soetoro) or delegated (to her parents) that responsibility. 

So Obama II is more a poster child, not for single mothers, but for Hilary Clinton’s “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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