Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Government & Politics

President Obama Captured in Quotes

Barack Obama's first year was captured in quotations by the James B. Simpson Fellowship at the School of Communication

President Obama's first year was captured in quotations by the James B. Simpson Fellowship at the AU School of Communication

OBAMA: The President’s Historic First Year in Quotes is a comprehensive and authoritative collection of presidential quotes marking every major news event of Barack Obama’s first year in office. Sponsored by the James B. Simpson Fellowship in the School of Communication at American University and edited by Simpson Fellow and SOC professor Dr. Danna Walker, it furthers the Fellowship's mission to portray contemporary times through the words of world leaders and thinkers.

The booklet includes quotes from the president’s inaugural speech to his State of the Union address, providing context and factual background for each of its 93 entries, punctuated by photographs courtesy of the White House. Reading the quotes in chronological order presents a unique picture of a period of historic transition through the words of the president.

The quotes reveal a year of intense debate over some of the most contentious issues of our time – a massive federal bailout of corporate America, unemployment, health care, and racial and gender equality - as well as moments of humor and lightheartedness. The booklet documents major shifts in policy, including the decision to end the combat mission in Iraq, lift the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and create the first White House Council on Women and Girls. It highlights breaking news such as the shootings at Fort Hood and the Haiti earthquake. Read in their entirety, observers have said the passages present a unique picture of leadership.

Some examples:

  • “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.” – Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration address.
  • “This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we certainly believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset – and rightfully so – are executives being rewarded for failure, especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, many of whom are having a tough time themselves.” – Feb. 4, 2009.
  • “Now, much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in American, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores.” – June 4.

The late Rev. Simpson published several volumes under the name of Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, which have become a trusted resource for scholars, academics, and quote enthusiasts. The Simpson Fellow for the 2009-2010 academic year was Dr. Danna Walker, booklet editor. White House specialist, Mark Knoller, CBS News White House correspondent, provided expertise.

The booklet can be downloaded in PDF format here or on the Simpson Fellowship Web site. It is also available in printed form by contacting Simpson Fellow and SOC professor Danna L. Walker.