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Friday, October 24, 2008

About Obama

Anonymous said...

The mystery of Barack Obama’s missing thesis

"After a few days of getting nowhere, I asked my readers for help. It was not long before one of my brilliant readers informed me that the topic of his thesis was “Soviet nuclear disarmament,” and Columbia refuses to release it."


Obama's Resume

"Columbia University
B.A. Political Science with specialization in international relations
Thesis topic: Soviet nuclear disarmament"

Does anyone else wonder what is in that thesis? Is there really a thesis or is this an internet rumor?


Anonymous said...

An actual report that explains it best...

Obama and the case of the missing 'thesis'
Thursday, July 24, 2008

By Jim Popkin, NBC News Senior Investigative Producer

Conservative provocateurs have been hunting for it. Investigative journalists have been on the prowl, too. Even a former professor has been searching through old boxes for his copy of it. But today Barack Obama made it official: He doesn’t have and can’t release any copies of the thesis-length paper he wrote 25 years ago while a senior at Columbia University.

“We do not have a copy of the course paper you requested and neither does Columbia University,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told NBC News.

The hunt begins
The hunt for Obama’s senior “thesis” began with a throwaway line in a newspaper article last October. The New York Times story, on Obama’s early New York years, mentioned in passing that the presidential contender had majored in political science at Columbia and had spent his time “writing his thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament.”

Journalists began hounding Columbia University for copies of the musty document. Conservative bloggers began wondering if the young Obama had written a no-nukes screed that he might come to regret. And David Bossie, the former congressional investigator and “right-wing hit man,” as one newspaper described him, took out classified newspaper ads in Columbia University’s newspaper and the Chicago Tribune in March searching for the term paper.

Bossie came up dry, but said the effort was well worth it. “A thesis entitled Soviet Nuclear Disarmament, written at the height of The Cold War in 1983, might shed some light upon what Barack Obama thought about our most pressing foreign policy issue for 40-plus years (U.S.-Soviet Relations),” he wrote in an e-mail to NBC News.

So what does the missing paper say, and could it be politically damaging to Obama?

The Obama campaign won’t offer any guidance since it says it doesn’t have a copy. Spokesman Ben LaBolt wouldn’t even say whether Sen. Obama threw out his copy or lost it.

So we turned for answers to the former professor who graded the now-elusive paper.

Ace student
In 1983, as a senior at Columbia in New York, Barack Obama enrolled in an intense, eight-student honors seminar called American Foreign Policy. His former professor, Michael Baron, recalled in an interview with NBC News that Obama easily aced the year-long class. But Baron says he never had any inkling that the gangly senior would scale such heights.

“You wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, he’s going to be secretary of state or president someday’,” Baron said. Obama was whip smart and “clearly one of the top one or two students in the class,” he said, but Obama’s seven classmates also could hold their own. “No real dolts in the class,” Baron remembered.

Twenty-five years later, Baron is president of a digital-media company in Florida and has hung up his professorial tweeds for good. He had saved Obama’s senior paper for years, and even hunted for it again this month in some boxes. But he said his search was fruitless, and he now thinks he tossed it out eight years ago during a move.

Baron described the paper as a “thesis” or “senior thesis” in several interviews, and said that Obama spent a year working on it. Baron recalls that the topic was nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union.

“My recollection is that the paper was an analysis of the evolution of the arms reduction negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States,” Baron said in an e-mail. “At that time, a hot topic in foreign policy circles was finding a way in which each country could safely reduce the large arsenal of nuclear weapons pointed at the other … For U.S. policy makers in both political parties, the aim was not disarmament, but achieving deep reductions in the Soviet nuclear arsenal and keeping a substantial and permanent American advantage. As I remember it, the paper was about those negotiations, their tactics and chances for success. Barack got an A.”

Baron said that, even if he could find a copy of the paper, it would likely disappoint Obama’s critics. “The course was not a polemical course, it was a course in decision making and how decisions got made,” he said. “None of the papers in the class were controversial.”

So would it provide any political ammunition today? “I don’t think it would at all,” Baron said. “It wasn’t a position paper; it was an analysis of decision-making.”

Baron acknowledges that he’s a big Obama supporter. He wrote a letter of recommendation for his former student when Obama applied to Harvard Law School. And, Federal Election Commission records show, the former professor has donated $1,250 to Obama’s presidential campaign.

The dog ate my homework?
Columbia University can’t help solve the mystery, either. The university says that it never had a copy of the paper in its archives, and doesn’t today. A spokesman said that no student technically could have written a thesis in 1983, since the university didn’t even have a thesis requirement for undergraduates then.

"At the time Barack Obama was a student, the political science department had no mechanism by which undergraduate political science majors in Columbia College could receive recognition for writing an independent thesis,” said university spokesman Robert Hornsby. “The department's procedures for students to write theses were created in the 1990s."

Obama’s spokesman seconds that notion: “Senator Obama did not write a thesis, in fact, Columbia's political science department didn't even begin offering the option for College undergraduates to write independent credit theses until the 1990s, well after Obama had graduated.”

[In February, Obama’s campaign did make available a copy of Michelle Obama’s senior thesis, written at Princeton University and entitled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.” But that was an official thesis, Obama’s folks said, and not just a “course paper.”]

Case closed?
So is that it? Is the Case of the Missing “Thesis” over?

Not so fast, Sherlock.

“If Obama says he doesn't have a copy, I would have to call him a liar,” declared David Bossie, the conservative activist. “Obama has it or knows where it is but no one has pressed him seriously for it,” Bossie said.

In other words, for some, the search continues.

Anonymous said...

Not particularly interested. Many Ivy League students do a 'senior thesis' as part of their undergraduate degree. It's not some great manifesto. In this case, at least it is probably written reasonably well. Maybe Dick Cheney would have written a thesis if he hadn't partied his way out of Yale. Now that is an interesting topic: how did Dick party his way out of Yale while George managed to hang on?

Anonymous said...

This is an old urban legend, debunked months ago. Obama never wrote a "thesis" at Columbia. He wrote term papers. Honestly, who keeps their old term papers? Keep in mind this is from a pre-computer era. Blog author- please stop the non-LLNL-relevant garbage posts. If you want to build and anti-Obama blog, start over and remove the association with LLNL.


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