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Much has been made of Senator Barack Obama's electoral strength among America's more educated voters.  The kind of people that Bill Clinton says "don't really need a president but somehow feel the need for change." Clinton was speaking about Obama's support among the overclass.  He knows that such comments could help fuel a backlash against Obama among the so-called downscale voters his wife is desperately relying on.  Perhaps this is why we don't really hear too much about the fact that Obama was a Ph.d diaper baby?


It seems as though in this country the display of too much intellect can be the source for suspicion among voters--the beer drinking question bespeaks this.  So it has been interesting to find some fascinating facts on Senator Obama and his remarkable parents.

We know that for the United States to even be considering its first multi-racial president he must be have impeccable Ivy League credentials--Columbia undergrad, Harvard Law. His wife equally impressive--Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law. Neither came from privledge.  However, Barack Obama was intellectually  privledged in a way that perhaps NO president of the United States has ever been.

What few know is that Barack Obama would be the first president in the history of the United States whose parents were BOTH college graduates*.  And even more remarkable is that BOTH his parents earned Phds! This puts him in a percentile group of Americans that is statistically miniscule.

It's widely known that his father and mother met as undergrads at the University of Hawaii, and eventually left his family to get his Phd at Harvard which he completed in 1972 in Economics.

Less well known is that his mother, Ann Dunham, completed her Ph.d in 1992.  

Dunham pursued a career in rural development that took her to Ghana, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh. In 1992 she earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Hawai'i. Her dissertation, "Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds," was 1067 pages long. [9]

Sadly, this fascinating woman died three years later at the age of 52.  

I started doing some further research and I thought for sure we had other presidents with double college graduate parents (though I knew the Obama Phd distinction would be unmatched). Even George W. Bush's parents didn't qualify. Though H.W. Bush went to Yale, fellow blue-blood wife  Barbara dropped out of Smith College. Clinton had no parents graduate college. H.W's father Prescott went to Yale but his mother Dorothy Walker did not go to college. Reagan, Carter, LBJ, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt--few if any of these had one parent graduate college, let alone two.

Interestingly, we have heard very little about this impressive fact about Senator Obama.  Do you think it's because such a fact would hurt him, further exoticize him, further make him seem more alien somehow?

The educational acheivements of his parents should be cause for celebration, especially with his mother getting her Phd relatively late in life.  What an inspiration this could be to millions particularly as we live longer and the career displacements caused by the information age forces people to have to learn throughout all their lives.  

Finding this out made me even more impressed with this gifted man and his amazing journey.  What do you think?  

UPDATE #1: Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Senator Obama's sister also has a Phd.

*if anyone has contervailing info on other presidents with regards to their parent's education let me know

Originally posted to maxnyc on Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 11:19 AM PST.

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