Forty-Fourth 



About Barack Obama
 


Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th President of the United States, and the current holder of the office. Having won reelection to his second and constitutionally final term in 2012, he will be unable to run again in 2016 and will be leaving the White House in January of the following year.

Much controversy has surrounded Obama – arguably even more than that which would be expected for any US President – some of it occasionally straying into the absurd. For a number of years following his election in 2008, a small but sizable contingent of far-right conservatives questioned his eligibility for the office, claiming that he had been born in the African nation of Kenya and was thus not a natural-born American citizen (a requirement of the President as decreed by the constitution). These people famously demanded to see his birth certificate, and even when that document was produced, many went on to challenge its authenticity. Adherents to this skepticism surrounding Obama's birthplace have been widely ridiculed in mainstream American culture with the derogatory nickname “birthers” (a reference to the “truthers” who believe that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were orchestrated by the American government), and are generally not taken seriously. For the record, Obama's pertinent documents give his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii, and his father's Kenyan heritage makes him the first person of African-American descent to occupy the office of President.

Obama's signature legislative achievement, sure to factor prominently in his legacy, has been the passing of the Affordable Care Act – colloquially known as “Obamacare”. This much-debated and still extremely controversial healthcare law prohibits, among other things, private health insurers from refusing to cover prospective customers with pre-existing medical conditions, essentially meaning that it is possible for anyone to acquire insurance. In fact, the law requires them to do so, assessing penalties through the IRS for any person refusing to purchase the service. Government subsidies are also included for those financially unable to comply. The law was extensively argued in congress and was subjected to a veritable Frankenstein's mix of provisions to satisfy various interests before finally being passed, and even now, millions on the political right clamor for its repeal. Leftists, meanwhile, hail it as a legislative breakthrough for the United States.

Obama has also been celebrated for locating the hated terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden – something his predecessor famously failed to do – and dispatching a Navy SEAL team to assassinate him. Together with his involvement in Afghanistan, his efforts to withdraw from Iraq, and addressing the concerns of the new Islamic group ISIS, Obama is sure to be known by history as a President active in foreign policy – while having shaken things up at home, too.




Forty-Third President
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