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Obama’s memoirs raking in millions

Now the nation knows. That doggy in the White House window is worth $1,600 (£1,100). Pretty pricey for a pooch — but then he is part of a household that is worth many millions of dollars, according to the latest financial disclosures filed, as US law requires, by the First Couple, Barack and Michelle Obama.

The forms, posted for all to see on the internet, are a window into the not inconsiderable wealth of America's top family, generated partly by royalties from the president's two memoirs, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Last year, they earned him between $2m and $10m. His assets are between $2.3m and $7.7m — the forms show ranges of value rather than specific figures.

Joe Biden, the Vice President, seems to have a much leaner financial cushion. He lists his overall assets at between only $155,029 and $675,000.

It might behove a political leader to go to the dog pound for a puppy rather than indulge in so expensive a pedigreed pet. Happily for Mr Obama, this animal — Bo, a Portuguese water dog — is listed as a gift. He was presented to the Obamas by the late Senator Edward Kennedy

Also entered in the documents is the $1.4m Mr Obama received from the Nobel committee for the peace prize he won last year and — more importantly — his decision to donate all of it to charity. The value of the prize medal and diploma, if anyone is wondering, is “not readily ascertainable”, the form says.

Under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, all top federal officials are required annually to disclose their financial interests.

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Thus we can see that Mr Obama has an impressive range of assets including in stocks, college education funds for his two daughters, mutual funds, bank accounts and bonds.

In these days of deep distrust of Washington and politicians generally, it might be better for the likes of Mr Obama to be able to demonstrate relative penury.

Leaders the world over try to claim proximity to the “ordinary voter”; large fortunes can be an impediment.

Even the elections in Britain saw an attempt by some to paint then candidate, now Prime Minister, David Cameron, as a member of the elite and therefore out of touch.

A 2008 News of the World report put Mr Cameron's personal fortune at £3.2m.

But it helps Mr Obama that most of his fortune is coming not from the public purse but from the two books. It is the voters, after all, who have been buying them.

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