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The Presidency of Barack Obama, 2009-2017

4. Barack Obama and the Presidency

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how we might situate Barack Obama in the grand scheme of the modern presidency since the Second World War, focusing in particular on: (i) the applicability of Arthur Schlesinger’s notion of the ‘imperial presidency’ to Obama’s time in office, and (ii) the exceptional stability of Obama’s personal and family life for the duration of his presidency, which we note is in marked contrast to most other presidents of the modern era.


In this course, Dr Clodagh Harrington (De Montfort University) examines the presidency of Barack Obama. We begin in the first module with Obama’s strategy and performance in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries and then the presidential election itself. In the second module, we think about President Obama’s relationship with Congress from his ‘honeymoon’ period in which the Democrats enjoyed majorities in both the House and the Senate through to the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections which saw the party lose control of the House. In the third module, we move on to think about the relationship between Obama and the Supreme Court, focusing on his appointments and some landmark decisions made by the court during his presidency. In the fourth module, we think about Barack Obama in relation to the institution of the Presidency and consider how his time in office fares against other presidents of the modern era. In the fifth and final module, we evaluate Obama’s legacy, including his historic status as the first African-American president and his major legislative contributions to the United States.


Dr Clodagh Harrington is Senior Lecturer in Politics at De Montfort University. Her academic background is in American politics and international relations, and her most recent publication is Obama’s Washington: Political Leadership in a Partisan Era (2015), which brings together essays from both sides of the Atlantic to dissect policy decisions and challenges facing the current administration.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harrington, C. (2019, September 29). The Presidency of Barack Obama, 2009-2017 - Barack Obama and the Presidency [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harrington, C. "The Presidency of Barack Obama, 2009-2017 – Barack Obama and the Presidency." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 29 Sep 2019,