Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2009]
"... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The
Origins: In academia, a thesis is a typical requirement for a graduate degree (although some schools require a thesis for a bachelor's degree as well), an original research project submitted by a student on a topic related to his major. Many universities keep their students' theses on file and make them available to the public as library resources.
In recent years, theses written by U.S. presidential candidates and their spouses have become subjects of great interest, particularly for the possibility that they might provide some insight into the thinking and mindsets of their authors, including the disclosure of once-held viewpoints that might be now be considered controversial and disadvantageous to their current political careers (or those of their spouses). Accordingly, major political figures have become more circumspect about allowing public access to their theses: Former First Lady
Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign (and afterwards), one of the items that was frequently cited as a "missing document" connected with Barack Obama was his own thesis for Columbia University, a school from which he graduated in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science (with a specialization in international relations). Politico noted in October 2008 that:
His campaign would not release his transcripts, and it says it does not have a copy of his thesis, which dealt with Soviet nuclear disarmament and which has drawn intense interest.
[Baron] had saved Obama's senior paper for years, and even hunted for it again [in July 2008] in some boxes. But he said his search was fruitless, and he now thinks he tossed it out [in 2000] during a move.
"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
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."
Had someone finally turned up Barack Obama's elusive senior paper? The Pajamas Media web site reported on
However, that claim seemed dubious, as a paper on "Aristocracy Reborn," with musings about the Founding Fathers' supposed lack of interest in "economic freedom" and "the distribution of wealth," would have been rather unusual content to find in a senior paper on the topic of Soviet nuclear disarmament, written for a seminar on American foreign policy. In fact, the putative excerpt was fictitious, something lifted from a bit of satire published on the Jumping in Pools blog back on
In the paper, in which only the first ten pages were given to the general media, Obama decries the plight of the poor: "I see poverty in every place I walk. In
In part, the future President blames this on the current economic system: "There are many who will defend the 'free market.' But who will defend the single mother of four working three jobs. When a system is allowed to be free at the expense of its citizens, then it is tyranny."
However, the President also singled out the American Constitution: "... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The
Last updated: 25 October 2009
Dedman, Bill. "Reading Hillary Rodham's Hidden Thesis." MSNBC.com. 9 May 2007. Popkin, Jim. "Obama and the Case of the Missing 'Thesis.'" MSNBC.com. 24 July 2008. Saul, Michael. "Limbaugh Falls for Obama Thesis Hoax." [New York] Daily News. 25 October 2009. Scott, Janny. "Obama's Account of New York Years Often Differs from What Others Say." The New York Times. 30 October 2007. Vogel, Kenneth P. "What Are the Candidates Hiding?" Politico.com. 23 October 2008.