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Useful Notes / Barack Obama

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Totally not David Palmer at all, but he'll do.

"Yes We Can."

Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) served as the 44th President of the United States of America from 2009 to 2017, succeeding George W. Bush and preceding Donald Trump. Born in Honolulu to a white American mother and a Kenyan father, he spent his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii before attending Harvard Law School and eventually settling in Chicago, where he worked as a community organizer and a college professor before being elected to the state Senate in 1996, and from there to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

He's relatively young (47 on taking office), being the only President born after 1946 to date,note  and is in a visibly loving relationship with his wife Michelle, and is often seen publicly with his daughters Malia and Sasha in non-political contexts. He is also the first American president to be mixed-race (the son of a White mother and a Black father), and is cited as proof that the Civil Rights Movement has paid off. At the same time however, his mixed-race status led to a Conspiracy Theory that Obama was not an American citizen, and although the theory was thought disproved when Obama released his birth certificate, it has regained traction, albeit much less media coverage and well after the end of his presidency, with "evidence" that the certificate had been forged. note  The conspiracy theory in hindsight was credited to a greater "whitelash" against Obama's electoral win (the idea of a black president having long been thrown around as a point for fearmongering by white supremacists), and the overlooking of this whitelash is often credited with enabling the rise of the alt-right during Obama's second term. Thus, the idea that America entered a "post-racial" age with Obama's win is generally considered a hollow sentiment at best, and most agree that the Civil Rights Movement still has many battles left to fight before it can truly be declared 100% successful.


Comedians, satirists and impressionists often struggled to find a consistent angle in portraying Obama, as his carefully guarded communication style robbed them of the usual gaffes that could define a president in the popular mind (Obama certainly had a few such errors, but they were complicated and didn't make for easy comedic fodder). The Onion largely focused on Obama's controversial drone warfare attacks and the disconnect between them and his more idealistic rhetoric. Key & Peele arguably struck the most resonant chord with their portrayal of Obama and his "anger translator" Luther, whose job it was to take the President's carefully worded language and express it in the angry terms Obama couldn't. This was related to a broader sense (and criticism) of Obama as The Spock: intensely rational, but unable or unwilling to channel the country's rage over, say, the economic devastation of the Great Recession, with most agreeing that a desire to avoid the Angry Black Man stereotype was the driving impetus behind it. Obama contrasted his Spocklike rigidity though by simultaneously cultivating an image as something of a father figure for the United States, combining an air for rigid professionalism with a visible fondness for the United States and hope for it to continue improving, encouraging American youth in particular with spurring on change.


However, in terms of portrayals of Obama and his public image, the biggest outlet for both has been the internet. With his presidency encompassing the internet's evolution from a niche utility to a mainstream commodity, Obama's legacy is by and large an online one. His presidency is largely remembered through its constant status as a source for Memetic Mutation, aided by his inherently amusing-sounding name, his Black and Nerdy hobbies and interests (which became known around the time when geek culture went mainstream), his online-friendliness, and his skilled invocations of The Comically Serious. Memes about Obama are still popping up here and there to this day (most of which are generally benign), and he's regarded as the most meme-friendly president in US history.

In terms of his actual presidency, public opinion on Obama today is generally mixed, but mostly skews positive outside of the American far-right. Criticism of Obama generally focuses on his inaction towards and silence on immigration reform (with his administration seeing a record number of deportations at the time, though he did eventually try to use executive orders to circumvent Congress and protect immigrant children) and his tepid handling of the conflict in the Middle East, failing to truly resolve it and taking actions that some argue exacerbated it (namely the aforementioned drone strikes); his controversially distant response to the rise of ISIS during his second term is an especially big point of focus in terms of his shortcomings. Additionally, retrospective analysts note that while Obama's economic recovery program benefited urban, non-redlined Americans to a strong enough degree to restore their confidence, people living in more rural parts of the country and even some middle-class suburban families didn't see the same benefits, and in some cases had the recession belatedly hit them during the urban recovery. In hindsight, this and the consequent disillusionment among these demographics with moderate establishment Democrats like nominee Hillary Clinton is generally considered a major— yet frequently overlooked— factor behind the election of Donald Trump in 2016, and later Democratic president Joe Biden's continuation of Obama's relatively moderate approach to governing became the subject of criticism almost immediately.

That said, most agree that he came at a time when an upbeat president like himself was most needed, with his optimistic campaign messages and fatherly demeanor being considered highly beneficial in maintaining American morale in the face of the Great Recession. His push for domestic social and economic reform also garnered favor among the American left (even if his Affordable Care Act was simply repurposing a failed bill by Richard Nixon), and his combination of an articulately dignified demeanor and lighthearted sense of dry humor led many to regard him as an excellent public relations figure as well. Furthermore, despite the mixed response to his handling of the conflict in the Middle East, the killing of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011 under his command was generally regarded as a great moment of catharsis for America, nearly ten years after the September 11 attacks that had so thoroughly shaken the world at the start of Bush's term.

Long after the conclusion of his presidency, Obama still remains a vocal figure in US politics through Twitter, acting as an impromptu pundit on the state of the country and the greater world and continuing the idealistic, paternal brand of political rhetoric that had so thoroughly defined his time as president.

Along with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump, Obama is one of the only five still-living former US presidents. Obama was also the first president to receive a 3D-rendered portrait of himself, created by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.

Tropes associated with Barack Obama in media and portrayals in fiction:

  • Academic Athlete: A POTUS from Harvard Law who also loves basketball (he was even playing hoops with his staff during election day). ESPN did a yearly feature where Obama would fill a March Madness bracket; he's noted for playing it safe and taking the chalk (the higher-seeded favorites).
  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Jon Stewart on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will occasionally pronounce the President's name flatly as "BA-ruck OH-buh-muh" instead of "bə-ROCK oh-BAH-muh". British media favours either "BA-ruck" (like the word 'barrack') or "buh-RACK uh-BAH-muh". The President feeds some of this himself, as he tends to use pronunciations (especially of foreign proper nouns) which are more accurate than but different to common American pronunciation. e.g. He pronounces Pakistan "pahk-ih-STAHN" rather than "PACK-ih-stan". It should also be noted that while Obama pronounces his given name with the accent on the second syllable, his father, economist Barack Hussein Obama I, did indeed stress the first syllable.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: He memorably sang the hymn in a eulogy for the victims of a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Analogy Backfire: Comparisons to Lincoln and Kennedy, who were both assassinated. Lampshaded in a "Between the Lines" segment of Mock the Week:
    Greg (Obama): Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to attempt to emulate my political heroes: Lincoln, Kennedy, Martin Luther King.
    Hugh (Inner Obama): I'm going to be assassinated.
  • Awesome McCoolname:
    • "Barack" means 'blessed' in his father's native language (Kiswahili, a.k.a. Swahili). It also means 'lightning' in Hebrew (though the Hebrew word is transliterated differently).
    • Chris Rock commented in one stand-up about how awesome Obama's name is:
      Chris Rock: Barack Obama. That sounds like a guy waving a spear! You expect to see the bass player of The Commodores with a name like that!
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: An odd case in that the "crowning" became widely reported in media for being screwed up slightly rather than for its own importance. During the biggest inauguration ceremony in decades, John Roberts flubbed part of the oath, which Obama repeated. Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully", which Obama paused for him to correct, then repeated the mistake himself. They corrected that later, and most of the rest went smoothly. The redo didn't stop certain elements from declaring the entire thing illegitimate on account of the flub, of course. However, they forget that whether the Oath is taken correctly at precisely twelve noon or not, the President-elect automatically becomes President at precisely noon on Inauguration Day, so the whole thing is moot.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: Obama has been noted as having the best comedic timing out of recent presidents.
    Obama: So I've cut the tension by bringing a new friend to the White House. He's warm, he's cuddly, loyal, enthusiastic. You just have to keep him on a tight leash. Every once in a while he goes charging off in the wrong direction and gets himself into trouble. But enough about Joe Biden.
  • Black and Nerdy:
  • Blessed with Suck: The myriad of problems Obama received when he assumed the presidency made him once joke that this might be the first time the winner of an election would have reason to ask for a recount. The Onion ran an article after he was elected with the headline "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job."
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Obama's book The Audacity of Hope often employed "On the one hand... on the other hand" examinations of the merits of both sides of political impasses, and at his first major national speech at the 2004 Democratic convention he confidently declared "We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states — we coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states."
  • Brick Joke: In his 2008 acceptance speech he said "Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." In his 2012 acceptance speech he tells his daughters "But I will say that for now one dog's probably enough".
  • But Not Too Black: Many black people were concerned about this early in the election. Some claimed he wasn't really black because they considered blacks to be those descended from slaves, whereas Obama's father was a native African. Even aside from the early election, perspectives vary, partially due to mixed race rarely being a cultural identity in the US; most feel pressured to fit into one of the existing cultural groupings.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Some say he is ineligible to be president because it is constitutionally illegal for any but a natural born US citizen to be elected to the office. Since Obama brought forth his birth certificate the issue has been dropped, except by a few fringe conspiracy theorists. Even Obama's successor Donald Trump, one of the chief proponents of the birther movement during its heyday, rescinded his remarks late into his own presidential campaign in 2016. He gleefully trolled those conspiracy theorists during the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner by releasing his "official birth video" which was a clip from the opening to The Lion King (1994) and going out of his way afterward to inform Fox News that the video was a joke.
  • Catchphrase: "Yes We Can!", "Change", "Hope for America", "What I have said is", "There are those who say", and "Let me be clear".
  • The Chessmaster: Andrew Sullivan noted how Obama seems to play "the long game", in which Obama seems to waffle on a topic early on, only to reveal he had been waiting either for a proper alignment of political allies or else waiting for his enemies to self-destruct.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His reaction to the birthers, in which he opens up a roast of his political opponents with this video.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: He has added some former political rivals to his cabinet, most notably including Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
  • Dramatic Pause: Gets into very awkward, choppy pausing like this at times.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His full name is Barack Hussein Obama II. Several people hastened to point out that his middle name sounds Muslim and is shared with part of the name of infamous Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. When asked who decided to name him, Obama replied, "Someone who never thought I would run for President of the United States."
  • Ensign Newbie: One of the youngest Presidents ever elected, with his highest political credentials before hand being a one term senator. A lot of his critics were quick to point out his inexperience during his first campaign and first term.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: Obama has been shown having a Mac. Most of his staffers also apparently own Macs and are accustomed to using them, which has caused user-adjustment and system-compatibility issues since government systems use Windows.
  • Friend to All Children: He enjoys interacting with children and some of the most popular photos of him while he was in office depicted him playing with his daughters and the children of White House staffers. One notable incident was when he and Michelle were doing a meet and greet outside the White House there was a family with a crying baby, she continued wailing while Michelle held her, but as soon as she was handed to the President she stopped.
  • History Repeats:
    • The right says his presidency is a mess, the left says he inherited a mess (see Jimmy Carter).
    • The unpopularity of George Bush results in a Democratic politician in his mid-forties winning the presidency by a healthy margin, the president spends his first two years in a long battle over healthcare, loses popularity, and at the midterms the House of Representatives in the biggest Republican win in decades. New Majority Leadership in the House announces they will obstruct the president's agenda and launch countless subpoenas against the White House. One member of his Oval Office tries to succeed him by running for president, but is narrowly defeated by a politically-inexperienced Republican opponent despite winning the popular vote (see Bill Clinton).
    • A torch is passed to the first President from his generation and the first from a large ethnic group, who is notable for lofty rhetoric, boundless optimism, an ability to inspire, and a tendency to make really damn good speeches, who selects as his running mate a long-tenured Senator from the older generation (see John F. Kennedy). The parallel, thankfully, stopped there.
      • With that in mind, his Vice President Joe Biden would take cues from Lyndon Johnson by becoming POTUS afterward, albeit by winning an election four years after President Obama left office, instead of Johnson succeeding President Kennedy after he was assassinated. And just to add an extra dash of irony, JFK was the first Catholic President of the United States and Joe Biden is the second.
    • He follows a two term president who left office with low popularity due to an unpopular war and and a recession, promising to fix things. He is noted for his appearance, and his vice president is a politician noted for his stability. After winning the election handily, his cabinet is quickly mired in controversies, and his detractors accuse him of incompetence and being the puppet of those around him (see Warren Harding). Again, the parallel stopped there.
    • He succeeds an unpopular Texan President overseeing an unpopular war by campaigning to end said war. Despite being considered a firebrand, he governs as a moderate, in part thanks to divided government; nevertheless, his opponents strongly distrust him anyway. He ends the aforementioned unpopular war while stepping up American military intervention in other parts of the world. His election and re-election foreshadow a new electoral coalition that will support his party, but after eight years in the White House, they hand off power to a member of the opposition who campaigns as an outsider and promises a departure from the Washington status quo (see Richard Nixon). Once more, the parallel wasn't a complete one.
  • Hopemongering: He used the word as a way to characterize how his detractors might respond to his message.
  • Insistent Terminology: While the Islamic State does go by three separate names (ISISnote , ISILnote , and Daeshnote ), he would only ever refer to them as ISIL, sometimes even correcting people who referred to them otherwise.
  • Is This Thing Still On?:
    • The source of his famed (with bi-partisan agreement) claim that Kanye West is a jackass. Oh, Crap! ensued when he realised that, yes, it was still on.
    • More infamous, especially with conservatives, is an incident where he was overheard telling Dmitry Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" in his second term. The Republicans tried to make this an issue in the 2012 election, but it didn't really go anywhere as voters were more concerned with domestic issues.
  • Insult Backfire: Both on the giving and receiving end of this.
    • Giving:
      • The term "Obamacare" was originally coined by opponents of the Affordable Care Act in order to mock it. Later, the term was embraced by its supporters, including Obama himself. As Obamacare managed to survive well into the Trump Administration despite efforts to repeal it, this has ended up carrying his mark and name in the White House long after he left the seat.
      • During his final State of the Union Address in 2016, he remarked that at this point, none of what he was doing should be taken as him campaigning for reelection, because "I have no more elections to campaign for." When scattered applause and cheers broke out from the crowd, he looked over to where it was coming from, gave the cheering people a flat look, and responded with "I know, because I won both of them." Cue more applause and laughter.
    • Receiving:
      • On Jimmy Kimmel Live! during the 2016 election cycle, Obama responded to tweets disparaging him and his policies, including one from Donald Trump, who stated that Obama would go down "as perhaps the worst President in the history of the United States." Obama snarkily responded that at least he "would go down as President". Guess who became the 45th President months latter?
  • Irony: Obama is the first president to be a person of color, and a monument to the country (mostly) overcoming decades to centuries of racism. His earliest known ancestor, from his (white) mother's side of the family, was John Punch, the first documented slave in the United States.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: When Osama Bin Laden was finally found and killed, the soldiers had no way to measure his height to confirm it was him (Bin Laden was a distinct 6'6"), so they had one soldier who was exactly six feet tall lay next to his corpse to confirm. When word got back to the President, Obama replied with this trope. "We sacrificed a $60 million helicopter for this operation, and nobody could afford a tape measurer?"
  • The Load: Joe Biden is noted as being an odd inverse Strawman Has a Point, where many of his comments meant in praise of Obama would, if anyone else were saying it, be savage criticism (such as suggesting that if Obama was elected a crisis would appear to test him, after he was selected as VP).
  • Meme Acknowledgement: A common meme among those who dislike Obama's policies/actions while he was in office was to say or post "Thanks, Obama!" said in a sarcastic tone. Obama himself, near the end of his second term, made a "Thanks, Obama" video where he attempts to dunk a chocolate chip cookie into a glass of milk that was way too small to fit the cookie.
    • Obama admitted he enjoyed most of the memes depicting him as the Straight Man constantly have to rein in and sometimes humor Joe Biden's zany antics. Obama joked that some of them are closer to the truth than most people will realize.
  • The Merch: The sheer amount of commemorative plates and T-shirts with Obama's face on them could very well restart the economy all by themselves. There are Barack Obama "Hope-Flavoured" Condom vendors in NYC. The same New York City condom vendors sold John McCain ones as well, giving them full reign to use the pitch line, "Either one, you're screwed."
  • Misaimed Marketing: The plush dolls of Obama's daughters are probably the most outrageous example, but almost as bad are the commemorative coins that turned out to be American currency with Obama stickers on them. Further examples here. But the there's the Obama Chia Head. A roughly full-minute ad features somber, majestic music with waving flags and a message of hope, all to honor the historic presidency of Barack Obama with a small bust in his likeness by the fine makers of Chia Pets - a tribute of respect interrupted for just a couple seconds for the requisite woman's voice cheerfully intoning "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" while the bust grows a green grassy afro in time-lapse.
  • My New Gift Is Lame:
    • For their first visit to the White House, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom and his wife Sarah brought some awesome and symbolic gifts. As is traditional for the hosts, the First Couple gave less impressive gifts in return...except they were a little too lame. The President gave our closest allies 25 incompatible DVDs of classic American movies, and the First Lady gave Mrs. Brown two models of Marine One (the presidential helicopter) for their sons. The models sell for fifteen bucks apiece at the White House gift shop.
    • President Obama's later gift of an iPod loaded with Americana to Queen Elizabeth II was initially believed to be a repeat offense, but apparently she'd actually asked for it (to replace her outdated one).
    • At the same time as the iPod, he also gave the Queen an extremely rare autographed Richard Rogers songbook, but the media ignored that.
    • And the first instance wasn't that bad. Apparently, giving a lame gift is a tradition or some such. Bush got the Queen a cowboy statue, some stuff from the Smithsonian gift shop, and a DVD of herself.
  • Nature Lover: His administration became notable for its effort to combat climate change, coal mining and pollution, saving endangered species, and preserving natural habitats. By the end of his presidency, he added 29 different national parks/monuments to the nation's roster, and expanded 5 more, making him the president with the most national parks ever designated.
  • Necessary Fail: Played straight when he lost the Democratic nomination in a 2000 Representative race against incumbent Bobby Rush, the only time he ever lost an election. While Obama admits it was a humiliating defeat and he was way over his head, spectators credit the future president for learning from the campaign's mistakes and becoming a much more confident and effective campaigner as a result.
  • New Media Are Evil: Subverted. A good portion of his success is attributed to judicious use of New Media, including holding teleconferences with bloggers. But on the other hand, he appointed some ex-RIAA/MPAA lawyers to the Justice Department, finally culminating in his approval of the Anti Counterfeit Trade Agreement.
  • Nice Hat: The hat Aretha Franklin wore to Barack Obama's inauguration has taken on a life of its own. The Smithsonian has asked for it due to its cultural and historical significance.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Rewatch the final presidential election on The West Wing and note how eerie the similarities are to the 2008 election. Pure coincidence, you say? The writers based the character of Matt Santos on then state-senator Barack Hussein Obama. Also, Josh Lyman became Santos' chief of staff in this story, and Lyman is known to be heavily based on Rahm Emanuel, a Clinton-era staffer... who went on to become Barack Obama's first chief of staff.
    • Blair Underwood's character of President Elias Martinez on The Event bears a lot of similarity, down the to idealism (and criticism for it), and older, more 'traditional' VP.
  • Older Sidekick: Joe Biden, who also counts as Plucky Comic Relief, a welcome change from his, to be diplomatic, more distant and less-congenial predecessor. Biden was also a bit of a (vice) President Buffoon thanks to his many verbal gaffes.
  • Older Than They Think: Pretty much every joke made about his name during his Presidential campaign were made during his Senatorial campaign.
  • Outgrowing the Childish Name: Growing up he'd been known by the nickname "Barry" (as had his father, Barack Sr.), but in college he decided he preferred to be addressed by his given name.
  • Overprotective Dad: Obama made fun of this trope when he alluded to the fact that Sasha and Malia were fans of the The Jonas Brothers:
    Obama: Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • YES! WE! CAN!
    • On Twitter, following the signing of the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) into law.
      It's. The. Law.
  • Pun: He's made a few puns, such as the 2012 State of the Union where he lambasted a law that treated milk as an oil and required farmers to protect the land against milk spills. Many groans ensued at the "crying over spilled milk" joke that followed.
  • Salt and Pepper: Obama and his number two, Vice President Joe Biden. Obama was the straight-laced one of the two, with a dry sense of humor (most of the time) and was always calm and very measured with the press outside of the occasional wry remark, whereas Biden was goofier and would oftentimes ramble and say silly things on live television.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: This was the general mentality the Republicans seemed to hold about President Obama. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) even went so far as to declare that if the GOP sent any bill to President Obama's desk no matter how unpopular it was, "he'll sign this puppy". Obama himself made use of this in 2014: faced with strong Republican opposition to legislation he wanted, he threatened to simply use Executive Orders to accomplish his goals. It should be pointed out, however, that all of this was inline with existing law; the President does have the power to use executive orders to enact certain decisions, but usually only for a limited time, as Congress are the ones who normally enact more permanent change.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • He appeared on a live edition of The Colbert Report in Afghanistan. Colbert was interviewing a general, who asked Colbert to cut his hair, but Colbert refused. Obama appeared on a big screen nearby, saying he had overheard the conversation.
      Colbert: Wait a second. You "overheard?" Are your spy satellites really that good?
      Obama: No, but my ears are really that big.
    • In a speech he gave to a group of young people who had helped during his successful 2012 campaign he told them that he didn't see himself in them, they were already better than he was since he was not politically active at their age.
    • He often makes jokes about being born in Kenya and/or being a Muslim socialist as a roundabout way of mocking the conspiracy theorists.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Came into office very idealistic. He managed to hold onto it for the most part during his tenure. Though as with any President, the stresses of the job were etched into his face.
  • The Smart Guy: Well-known for his calm, intellectual demeanor. Some have accused him of being too cerebral for the American public.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": He went by "Barry" for a good portion of his life as a child and a young man because he was sick of people mispronouncing Barack.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: When quoting a swear-happy classmate named "Ray" in the audio book version of Dreams from My Father, he maintains his famed calm speaking voice. Contrast him calling Kanye West a "jackass", where his tone is distinctly much more casual.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: A regular aspect of his speeches to black audiences.
  • Tempting Fate: Commenting on a Mean Tweet segment of Jimmy Kimmel that unlike Donald Trump, he at least would be remembered as a President did not age well. See the second example of Insult Backfire.
  • Touch of Death: Non-Lethal, Non-intentional version known by some as the "Obama Curse". There's been a trend where Obama will express his support for a team, candidate, or cause, only for the side he's rooting for to lose.
  • Unfortunate Names:
    • Michael McIntyre did a bit about how Obama's name is unfortunate for a president:
      Michael McIntyre: Barack Hussein Obama is a terrible name to run for american president. "Barack" sounds like "Iraq", "Hussein" reminds one of Saddam Hussein and "Obama" sounds like "Osama". But still he did. He became president. And I imagine many young black kids here in Britain see this and think "I could get elected Prime Minister! If I work hard and devote myself, I can make it" — "No, I don't think so, Adolf Mugabe Fritzl."
    • Patton Oswalt did a similar thing in a bit about time-traveling to his 1998 self:
      Patton Oswalt: His real name is Barack Hussein Obama. So, we basically elect a Jamba Juice supplement with a dictator's middle name...(later on) Yeah, I'm gonna vote for Ginseng Hitler Bee-pollen.
    • Spoofed when President Obama made a state visit to Ireland, and joked about trying to reclaim the apostrophe that got dropped from his family's name. He himself once said:
      Obama: When I call, they would wonder what this Muslim, or worse, this Irish O'Bama wants to do.
  • Verbal Tic: Has a habit of starting his sentences, "Look..."

Barack Obama in fiction:

    open/close all folders 

  • Numerous advertisements use lookalikes, sound-alikes, silhouettes, and other No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Obama. Some, usually pushing some sort of financial service, often featured clips of Obama shortly after the election discussing the economic crisis. Others just begin the ad with a gratuitous name drop ("Barack Obama is repairing the economy..."). Interestingly, other countries are even more likely to include fake Obamas in their ads than the US. One famous campaign in Spain is for a free weekends cellphone plan called "Yes Weekend." It features an Obama lookalike chanting "YES, WE KEND! YES, WE KEND!"
  • The man himself does appear in a commercial encouraging and supporting public service.

    Anime & Manga 
  • After a trip to Japan, he discovered that the town he was visiting was in fact called "Obama". Consequently, Japanese media has been referencing him for a while.
  • A blatant Captain Ersatz of Obama ("John Omaha") has appeared in the Air Gear manga.
  • A Certain Magical Index: The "Angel Fall" spell causes everyone's appearance to change without them noticing, except for a few who managed to escape the effects. The lead turns on the news, only to discover that President Obama has been swapped with a certain lesbian schoolgirl, who uses Obama's "Yes we can!" Catchphrase.
  • In the Tournament Arc of Gamble Fish, Obama gets a cameo in the form of King Omaha, introduced as the hero who will turn the tide of depression in the US. Complete with the "Yes we can" catchphrase. He also nets a few moments of Heroic Resolve.
  • In Gintama 165 episode, which is in bigger part a halucination caused by fever, Katsura due to virus became a cross between Will Smith and Barack Obama, and a catchphrase "Yes, we can!" used.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00:
    • The leader of the United Nations bears a remarkable resemblance to Obama, earning him the nickname '00bama''. His replacement at the end of the series is a woman. Think about that for a moment.
    • Gundam 00 also has a minor (but sympathetic) squad leader in the A-Laws who looks possibly biracial and is named Barack.
  • In the 20th chapter of Heaven's Lost Property, Obama cameos during the global emergency of... a zoo animal breakout.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • The personification of America excitedly shouts "Yeah Obama we can change!" after helping Estonia catch a cracker (...cracker?) who was putting Russian propaganda in Estonia's computer. The strip is based on an event that took place only a few months after then-Senator Obama announced his presidential run, so apparently he was a supporter since the beginning.
    • The author also drew a sketch of America holding Bo, the new little puppy of the Obamas.
  • Obama Mifuyu of Kurogane Pukapuka Tai is unrelated... probably.
  • There is an Obama H-Doujinshi (My Neighbour Taro-kun) out there. It's even weirder than you're probably thinking. Starring Obama and other political leaders, the "story" involves (most prominently) Obama having sex with his neighbor's kinky maid — and then an orgy with Hillary Clinton present.
  • The very first promo for Minami-ke Okaeri had Kana also using the "Yes we can!" catchphrase in the exact Obama intonation.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, the mayor of Sternbild and his wife bear more than passing physical resemblances to Barack and Michelle Obama, although said mayor has a baby son who figures into one of the episodes, instead of two daughters.
  • Obama has made several Lawyer Friendly Cameos in the 2008 Yatterman anime. One of the more memorable ones featured a preadolescent Obama romancing a preadolescent Hillary Clinton, that episode being broadcast while the two of them were still competing fiercely IRL for the democratic presidential candidacy.

    Comic Books 
  • He made a cameo appearance at the conclusion of a story arc in Luann that featured Luann, Bernice, and Delta (who had wanted to see him) visiting Washington DC. (His face was not actually shown.)
  • He is also at the center of the next Army of Darkness comic arc, entitled "Ash Saves Obama".
  • And in another independent series, Barack The Barbarian (written by Larry Hama), he's the lead of a barbarian fantasy parody title which casts all the major players of the '08 election in a Conan-type universe.
  • And of course, on an alternate DCU Earth, he's actually Superman. He wasn't kidding.
  • Obama appears in the IDW series Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, lamenting that if dealing with a bad economy, a war, and a giant oil spill weren't bad enough, now he has a giant radioactive monster destroying Japan. As of the second issue he became "President Ogden."
  • He is accepted by the fanbase to be the natural choice of sector 2814's blue ring bearer. For those who don't read Green Lantern, Blue Lanterns symbolize hope. This all assumes the DC verse actually has an Obama, instead of the latest in its long line of various generic "president" characters however.
  • In the Marvel Universe, President Obama won the electoral vote, but in a three-way race, a plurality in the popular vote went to Stephen Colbert.
  • Antarctic Press is publishing a mini-series entitled President Evil which features President "Ba-rot" Obama fighting zombies. Covers so far parody Army of Darkness, 28 Days Later and The Evil Dead, and the last fourth issue will apparently be subtitled "Yes, We Cannibal!" Bonus points to Arctic Press, as the cover is the "Hope" poster featuring zombie Obama.
  • Though his face was not seen, it was implied that he was the one who elected Norman Osborn as King of Everything at the end of Secret Invasion via the shade of the President's hand that presented Osborn. It was later retconned that Obama's predecessor was the one who held the Idiot Ball during that particular decision. Later, Obama pardoned Captain America for his crimes during Civil War and authorized Osborn's takedown.
  • President Obama's comic book ubiquity continues to rise as there is at least one entire comic book series about himself but there's even one specifically about his wife. Seeing those comics on the shelves at the local comic shop is rather surreal. There's even a comic book about his dog.
  • Appears as a cyborg within the Steampunk Palin comic book.
  • The Barbarian Hero of the 2009 series Barack the Barbarian may look familiar. The idea spawned from the fact the real Obama collects Conan the Barbarian comics.
  • Appears as himself in Amazing Spider-Man #583, which is an Ascended Fanboy moment for him — a self-avowed fan of the character.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Daria Expanded Universe, the "Daylight" fanfic ''The Hope Mission'' has a relief effort begun on a decimated Earth by the citizens of another Earth where Obama is President. Among the items sent is a laptop computer and a DVD with a message of support to the survivors. The speech he gives sounds just like a real President Obama speech.
  • In Fuck The Jesus Beam, Obama appears as a villain. His in-story character is named, prepare yourself, BaROCK Dominatus Caesar Inferno Vespucci Giovanni Goku Super Sexy Awesome Absolute GOD O.B.A.M.A. He is apparently a KenyaN terrorist. And yes, those capitalizations are actually in the story, but no, the story is not filled with errors. It's intentional.
  • In Obama Sweeps: The Barrier, a parody of The Conversion Bureau, Obama manages to destroy the the Barrier with the help of a Smeargle and a Magikarp named "James Tiberious Karp."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • He's featured (played by an actor) in My Name Is Khan.
  • A young Obama is portrayed in Southside with You, an film described as a Before Sunrise-style romance depicting Barack and Michelle Obama's first date.
  • The film Barry depicts his time as a student at Columbia University, trying to discover his own identity and come to terms with issues of race, class and life goals during a transitional period in his life.
  • Mentioned very briefly as being escorted to an undisclosed location in the Mojave Desert in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen . Word of God was that this was Michael Bay's tribute to Obama. Overall, however, the film puts Obama in a bad light. Director Galloway, an Obstructive Bureaucrat who works against the heroes, repeatedly states that he gets his authority from President Obama as his National Security Advisor.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe he only served one term before being succeeded by the fictional Matthew Ellis, and has been referenced a few times.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service has an unusually negative portrayal, as he's among the world leaders the villain convinces to sign on to his plan to save the environment through mass slaughter of innocent people, portrayed with a Wham Shot of his distinctive silhouette after it was unclear who Valentine was talking to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Key & Peele loved to spoof him and his seeming inflappability, with Jordan Peele's Obama being accompanied by Keegan Michael Key's Luther, Obama's "Anger Translator". President Obama has said that this is his favorite impression and even went as far as to include Luther during his 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner performance.
  • He's mentioned a number of times on 30 Rock. In the first two seasons, Obama is Liz's preferred candidate for president in 2008. This is first mentioned in an episode from early 2007 where Liz tries to get Jenna to publicly endorse Obama, but Jenna, due to her stupidity, ends up accidentally endorsing Osama bin Laden instead. Also, the final season had a two-part episode about the 2012 election with Liz supporting Obama and Jack supporting Romney.
  • Special Guest Appearance: on the first episode for Operation Iraqi Stephen, the real President Obama shows up to "order" the chief of operations to give Stephen Colbert an army buzz cut to fully show his support for the troops. He even makes a joke about his own ears.
  • Similarly, an optimistic black community leader is the Victim of the Week in Cold Case while a (white) aspiring politician from a rough background (so rough that his sister is effectively his first lady, if you know what I mean) is featured in another episode.
  • Appears in the first part of the Doctor Who story "The End of Time", with a lot of blocking shots and hands covering his face. As per Russell T. Davies' tendency to mock the US in his scripts, the Master transforms him (and all of humanity) into Master clones.
  • A villain in Engine Sentai Go-onger became Prime Minister of Japan and promised change... by destroying a ton of buildings. And, he said "Yes we can!" in all of its engrishy glory.
  • Obama is the president in both of the Fringe universes. The way they introduced the alternate universe was to show a newspaper with the headline that's he taken office and then reveal that Olivia was actually standing inside one of the World Trade Centre towers. Apparently the Obama in our universe dislikes Broyles. Because Broyles beat him at golf.
  • In the final episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory leaves Stars Hollow for a job as a campaign reporter following the Obama primary campaign.
  • In House, one of the patients of the week was a young, eloquent black Senator, former community organizer and Presidential candidate. What makes that episode particularly freaky was that it first aired in April 2005, almost two years before Obama officially announced his run for the presidency, back when he was only a lowly Senator known almost solely for his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.
  • Sketch-comedy show Little Britain USA was filmed prior to the November 2008 elections, but twice featured a serious and competent black president playing straight man to the flamboyant and bumbling Prime Minister of England.
  • Obama has made an cameo appearance on MythBusters in December 2010.
  • The 22nd running of the Ninja Warrior obstacle course had a Barack Obama impersonator, complete with the entire crowd waving handheld US flags and chanting, "Yes we can!" "Obama" falls at the Jumping Spider obstacle. The announcer cries out, "No, you can't!" when he loses.
  • The two younger kids in the Britcom Outnumbered have mentioned him a few times; Ben believes that in his spare time, Obama drives a London bus ("he's the leader of the free world, he can do anything he likes"), while 7-year-old Karen is upset that he hasn't answered any of her letters and likes to add him into her drawings, usually doing something suitably awesome like riding a dragon.
  • The "birther" conspiracy theory is spoofed in the Parks and Recreation episode "Born & Raised". While Leslie is running for city council as part of a larger story arc, it's charged that she was not born in Pawnee, but in the hated rival town of Eagleton. Unlike with the real conspiracy theory, this turns out to be true, but Leslie manages to convince her opponents that she is as Pawneean as anyone actually born there.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce has Alan Park playing Obama. Unlike Armisen, he has absolutely nothing in common with Obama (this is common with both him and Roger Abbott's George W Bush). They don't even try to get the voices down.
  • Obama is played by Fred Armisen (who, like Obama, is of mixed origin, only Armisen is Venezuelan on his mom's side and German and Japanese on his father's side) on Saturday Night Live, who, despite being white enough to regularly play Steve Jobs (or Prince [who, like Obama, is also half-black, half-white]), does the part with just a wig and some tape to make his ears stick out. These sketches seem a lot less afraid of Unfortunate Implications than most parodies, though SNL has made similar casting decisions in the past, most famously the even-whiter-than-Armisen Darrell Hammond as Jesse Jackson (with Hammond in tan make-up). Dwayne Johnson (who is Black-Canadian on his dad's side and Samoan on his mom's side) also played Barack Obama — or to be more precise, his Incredible Hulk-esque alter ego called "The Rock" Obama, who throws anyone who angers or disagrees with him out the window of the Oval Office (while still speaking in measured tones). From the season 38 onward, Obama is played by Jay Pharoah.
  • In season 5 of True Blood, there is a gang of murderous racists who disguise themselves with Barack Obama masks. A frustrated Sheriff Andy tells some idiotic reporters that President Obama is not associated with nor is he supporting the gang.
  • In an interesting twist of reality-imitating-fiction, the last season of The West Wing had Hispanic candidate Matt Santos winning the Presidency. Matt Santos was based on a then barely-known senator named Barack Obama. Not only that, his opponent was a much older Republican centrist. AND both Santos and Obama appointed a major rival Presidential candidate as his Secretary of State. We're through the looking glass, people.
  • All five seasons of Warehouse 13 were filmed during Obama's presidency, so his portrait tends to decorate more or less every government office the protagonists visit over the course of the series. Arty's office in the Warehouse proper is a notable exception, probably because the Warehouse doesn't care about politics and is residing in the USA only because it always sets up shop in the world's most powerful nation at the moment. The Distant Finale of the series finale suggests that his basketball will become an artifact at some point in the future.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Grodd is sent to kill him while he's still in college, noting that "It will almost be an honor." After the Legends foil the plot, he's able to give Sara the perfect advice for the emotional issues she's having despite having no frame of reference for her time travelling. She also advises him to hold onto his birth certificate.
  • Kingsley Ben-Adir plays Obama in the miniseries The Comey Rule, where he is seen hiring James Comey for the job of FBI Director.

  • He isn't directly namedropped, but in Stephen King's Under the Dome the local selectman receives a letter from the President and notes that "he'd signed all three of his names, including the terrorist one in the middle." And a bumper sticker with the slogan "Yes We Can, Again" implies not only a timeframe for the novel, but that Obama was elected to a second term in King's universe.
  • The Obama Biden Mysteries novels published by Penguin Random House portray Former President Barack Obama and Former VP Joe Biden as solving crimes like a modern day Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson after they leave the White House (with some satirical political commentary on the side).
    • Fun Fact: This is the same company that has published President Obama's memoir A Promised Land and Former First Lady Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming

    Puppet Shows 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • During the drawn-out primary, WWE once had Obama and Hilary impersonators who wrestled each other. This was after videotaped appearances from both Democratic hopefuls, as well as John McCain.
  • WWE has taken to using footage of Obama's press conferences, to create mock conferences of their own, to promote their "Capitol Punishment" Pay-Per-View event. It's exactly as silly as it sounds.


    Video Games 
  • In the Xbox Live game, Angry Barry, a Hulked-out Obama beats old ladies to death with busses to collect votes.
  • Advertisements for his campaign were implemented by Electronic Arts for updating billboards in Burnout Paradise if the player was connected online with his/her console.
  • In Madden NFL 11 and 12 and NBA 2K11, the players can go meet Barack Obama post-game for a congratulatory meeting.
  • During the campaign, Mercenaries 2 released DLC that made Obama a playable character, along with Sarah Palin.
  • Japanese game company AlCot has released a eroge called My Girlfriend Is the President, in which due to a freak accident involving aliens and brainwashing, Japan adopts a presidential system similar to that of the US, with Yukino Ohama (the titular girlfriend) as the President of Japan. There's even a long speech ending with Obama's trademark Catchphrase.
    Yukino Ohama: Yes we cum!
  • Main character in Obama Alien Defense; see here.
  • In Perfect Dark, the president of the United States is a black man that bears a remarkable resemblance to Barack Obama, despite the fact that it was made several years before Obama's presidency.
  • A popular nickname for the Pokémon Abomasnow is Obamasnow.
  • Obama also appears in an advertisement for Rabbids Go Home, where he is about to deliver a speech when the Rabbids come in and steal his clothes.
  • One of the promotional videos for Scribblenauts had the playtesters try to summon Barack Obama. It didn't work. In the first game, the President is a white man in a blue suit, in the sequel, they changed the president's model, it now looks like Obama in the game's lighthearted style. He's also one of the playable avatars.
  • Captain America's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has him being awarded a medal by Obama for stopping Galactus. In Ultimate, Obama was replaced with Nick Fury.

    Web Animation 
  • When discussing a plot point in the video game H.A.W.X., Zero Punctuation uses him as the President, when Yahtzee is dissecting the idea of schemers plotting to kill The President. Weird how disconcerting it is to see a general smiling-Obama face with Xs over the eyes, even when the point of the talk is how stupid that kind of plot would be to any self-respecting greedy evil corporation. He also uses him as a stand-in for Louis in his Left 4 Dead review.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • What do you get when you cross the 2008 presidential campaign, Steampunk, and pulp fantasy? Barack Obama Vs The Pirates Of Wichita and its various sequels, where politicians are Physical Gods whose wars for the Oval Throne shake the heavens. Obama himself is described with the qualities of a Memetic Badass.
    Also, according to rumor, a single tear from Obama's cheek can slay demons and cure vilitigo and impetigo. His stride is as of a titan's, seven leagues at a time, and while he holds a microphone in his hand he canst take no mortal wound nor shed a single drop of his own blood. He speaks the native tongue of birds, and converses happily with all beasts of hoof and paw, even to the lowliest vole and marmot. Gracious as the kings of old, Obama carries no money nor answers unkind word with like. Peonies spring up where his feet trod, and were he to lay his weary head upon the ground a mighty cedar, like unto the old father trees of Bsharri and Barouk, would spring forth to shade his noble brow. In the elven tongue he is Lothlornienel, with means "Laughter in the High Places", and the dwarves call him earthfriend, as well as "Khazad ak Manu", which means "He who does not wear patriotic lapel pins." His is the drill that shall pierce the heavens: believe in him believing in you! The Neocons speak of him in hushed tones in their shadowed, dusty halls, and refer to the ancient scrolls of the fallen empire of Mnem, which foretells of the coming of the Dusky Childe, who shall scourge their number from the halls and rotundas and tear down the altars in the high places and bring the three terrible plagues of Health Care and White Guilt and Political Transparency. They say that he will travel to Shibboleth – where the heart of Karl Rove is kept, inanimate, inside a Canopic jar – and break the seals and feast upon the contents therein: and with the power thus consumed he will erect a throne of jade and jasper and lapus lazuli, and rule upon it, and the thunderous gnashing of teeth from the Red States will play Hail to the Chief as he ascends the dais.
  • In the Jib Jab '08 election animated short, Obama is shown as something akin to a Disney Princess, frolicking with cuddly forest animals. A later video portrays him as a superhero.
  • In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72 (an Alternate History scenario about a different 1972 presidential election), Obama has not appeared in person but apparently authored some of the books that the timeline takes extracts from: he seems to have become a professor in political history.
  • Given The Salvation War is an Alternate History which branches off from the real world in early 2008, it's not the least bit surprising to see Barack Obama as the US President in the second book, Pantheocide.
  • In the New Deal Coalition Retained alternate history timeline, a young Barack is sent to live with his father (who has become President of Kenya) after his mother dies in a car crash. At one point, he serves as an aide to his father's political ally Idi Amin, before eventually being elected to succeed his father as President.

    Web Videos 
  • Game Grumps did impressions of Obama a few times.
    • They had a lengthy joke where Obama was a disgruntled fan who secretly trolls their videos with the same complaints as other Grump fans.
      Danny: (imitating Obama) Just because it makes them laugh it should make me laugh? Fuck 'em.
    • While playing Kirby's Dream Course, the Grumps pretend that Obama is a huge fan of theirs. They even act out Obama catching up on episodes of Game Grumps with all of his free time after he leaves office.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation N-W.O.R.D. has Barack Obama's wife Michelle die from Donald Trump saying the N-word, then him seemingly saying the N-word to attack the Penguins who are stopping racism, only for it to turn out to be Trump in Obama's body, and finally awarding the Penguins with an N-word pass for stopping racism.
  • In the Spoony One's review of Make My Video (from the '90s), there's a wheelchair-bound Corrupt Corporate Executive with an Evil Laugh whom Spoony notes bears a remarkable resemblance to then-Senator Obama, whom he dubs "Evil Barack Obama". He ends the video by popping up again to declare "I'm Evil Barack Obama, and I approve this message. Mwahahaha!"

    Western Animation 
  • He appears in the American Dad! episode "Incident at Owl Creek", where, after accidentally defecating into his neighbor's pool, Stan is humiliated by everyone. He devises a plan to make President Obama make the same faux-pas, negating his shame. It was All Just a Dream but Stan still shits himself.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, he suddenly appears at the end of "Cry Freedom Fighters!" to thank Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters. Plas doesn't recognize him. Of course, Plas' knowledge of U.S. history is...a bit off in general.
  • The Boondocks has a decidedly negative depiction of the president. Since the season 3 premiere, he has been depicted as an Obstructive Bureaucrat whose long and inspiring speeches do nothing in the face of uncertain times.
  • Barack Obama also appears in The Cleveland Show, challenging Cleveland to a game of basketball. And winning handily.
    Obama: I better call my Secretary of Education because... you just got schooled. I can also call my Secretary of Treasury... because that jump was money. I'd also like to—
    Secret Service Man: Sir, we really have to go.
    Obama: Uh, one moment. I can also call my Secretary of Defense... because I am the bomb. Wheels up!
  • In the Family Guy episode "New Kidney in Town", Obama visits Quahog, and Chris' entire English class is assigned to write an essay about hope. Chris uses things he heard from Meg to write his essay, and he's selected to read it to introduce Obama. Chris and Meg eventually read the speech together. After that, Obama appears dressed like Conrad Birdie and performs the song "Honestly Sincere".
  • In Metalocalypse Episode "Dethhealth", Murderface has a series of hallucinations, one of which is a very brief, few-seconds long shot of President Obama standing outside the White House.
  • Has a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas And Ferb Save Summer" as the head of the World Leaders agreeing to L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N's demands for world domination
  • In South Park, Obama is the main character in the episode "About Last Night". The episode deals with the results of the presidential election — and the fact the episode came out the day after it was declared Obama won the election. It is awesome enough, but just read the description. It is about how the entire presidential election was a ruse by Obama, McCain, Michelle Obama, and the surprisingly intellectual Sarah Palin to steal the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian Museum, Ocean's Eleven style. The episode ends with Obama deciding to stay President.


Video Example(s):


Obama Out

Obama ends his final White House Correspondents' Dinner with a mic drop.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MicDrop

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Main / MicDrop