Obama, Bill Clinton have common ground

Apr 30, 2008

The Democratic primary contest may have placed them on opposing sides, but presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton have more in common than their voter party registration cards.

According to Ted Goertzel, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University—Camden, both men may owe their current success to their past upbringing by single mothers during many of their critical childhood years. Moreover, the two frequently sided with their mothers during conflicts with fathers or step-fathers.

In a recent essay comparing Clinton, Obama, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, Goertzel found that “all are leaders with exceptional ability to share feelings and communicate empathy to large publics. All three charted their own course in life instead of following a family history or tradition. And all were raised by single mothers who did not have time to smother their children or dominate their lives.”

The author of the book “Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More Than 700 Famous Men and Women (Second Edition)” (Great Potential Press), Goertzel studies the impact of parental influence on the evolution of prominent figures. In studying Obama, Clinton, and da Silva, the Rutgers—Camden researcher found that each leader lost their father at a very early age.

“Obama’s father left him and his mother to pursue a doctorate in economics at Harvard, and then returned to his native Kenya without either of them. Bill Clinton’s biological father was killed in an automobile accident before Bill was born; his mother later remarried, but his stepfather had a drinking problem and abused his mother. Lula da Silva’s father ran off to Sao Paulo to start another large family before da Silva was born into a family of eight children,” says Goertzel.

While the mothers were busy raising their children, they also strongly encouraged their sons to get a good education.

“All three leaders felt anger or resentment with their father and stepfathers, and all three had close and warm relationships with their mothers,” continues the Rutgers—Camden educator. “But none of them became overly dependent on their mothers or remained in their mothers’ homes after reaching adulthood.

“None of these leaders modeled their lives or their careers on their fathers. Modeling themselves on their mothers may have helped these leaders develop skills in human relations and practical problem solving,” concludes Goertzel. “Not having to compete with their fathers for their mothers’ attention may have helped them build self-confidence. Not having to compete with their fathers, or being expected to realize their fathers’ ambitions, may have helped them to move quickly through adolescence into a career path that suited their own talents and ambitions.”

Source: Rutgers University

Explore further: Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bill Gates: From teen geek to world's richest man

Feb 04, 2014

As a geeky-looking teenager, he started in a garage and created the world's biggest software company. He then became the world's richest man and the world's most prominent philanthropist.

Reddit co-founder campaigns for power of Internet

Dec 05, 2013

The lanky 18-year-old in a blue mortarboard cap, his shoulders festooned with tassels and other regalia, stepped to the lectern, gave Howard High School's Class of 2001 a nervous snicker and spoke words heard in countless ...

Immigration law not created equally according to study

Jun 26, 2013

Immigrant women who go through the legalization process are not treated equitably, according to a new study, "Gendered Paths to Legal Status: The Case of Latin American Immigrants in Phoenix, Arizona."

Recommended for you

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

Oct 21, 2014

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

How the lotus got its own administration

Oct 21, 2014

Actually the lotus is a very ordinary plant. Nevertheless, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) a complex bureaucratic structure was built up around this plant. The lotus was part of the Imperial Household, ...

What labels on textiles can tell us about society

Oct 21, 2014

Throughout Chinese history, dynastic states used labels on textiles to spread information on the maker, the commissioner, the owner or the date and site of production. Silks produced in state-owned manufacture ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

Oct 17, 2014

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dachpyarvile
not rated yet Feb 02, 2009
They may have common factors in life that made them what they are and I suppose that this influenced what recently happened in elections.

In spite of the change that was promised to Americans, the Obama whitehouse is nothing more than a recycled Clinton whitehouse. More of the same in spite of the repeated lies to the effect that things would be different with this presidency...

Anyone who voted for the liar got buyers' remorse yet?