Barack Obama , President of the United States, 2009-2017.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008, was an historic day. Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected to the position of President of the United States, and eleven weeks later — on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 — he was formally sworn-in as the country's 44th President.
While I was on a Fulbright Fellowship in mid-2001, I met Barack Obama at the University of Chicago, where he taught law and, at the same time, was also a member of the Illinois state Senate. His oratory, idealism, and middle-of-the-road common sense were highly impressive, and he struck me then as someone who would go far. Consequently, I was not surprised when he rose to national prominence as a result of his speech to the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nominating convention (the convention at which John Kerry was formally chosen as the Democrats' candidate); nor was I surprised by Obama's election later that same year to the United States Senate. However, I must admit that I was somewhat surprised both by the speed with which Barack Obama decided to seek his party's nomination as its presidential candidate, as well as by his success in doing so, but after he won the race to be nominated as the Democratic Party's 2008 candidate for the US presidency, Obama's victory in the race for the White House — especially in light of President George Bush's unpopular war in Iraq and the global financial crisis — was hardly surprising.