Barack Obama’s well written autobiographical, “Dreams From My Father” portrayed his youth as a series of permanently mind altering revelations at Occidental College, Columbia and Harvard that formed his belief system and character. His high school career was commonplace. He drank beer, smoked dope, dated and hung out with friends, mostly white. In Hawaii with so many of mixed race, there was no stigma and he experienced rare, if any, discrimination.
At Occidental College and Columbia Barry Obama transformed to “Barack”, became radicalized, and it was a journey he avidly sought out – he found his mission; he found his role. Adolescent insecurities were morphed or sublimated, as with us all. The narcissism and hubris so evident today took root and blossomed. In “Dreams” he described incidents and conversations that led to these epiphanies; the troubling element is that some of the characters in the book were composites or didn’t exist at all according to the newly released biography, “Barack Obama: The Story”. David Maraniss, the author, is a Washington Post reporter and an Obama supporter, so one expects a positive perspective, which it presents for the most part.
In “Dreams”, Mr. Obama writes of how he reinvented himself. In reality, he was “inventing himself inventing himself.” Andrew Ferguson’s review of Maraniss’ “The Story” (“meticulously researched, well footnoted, carefully written”) wrote this, “What’s dispiriting is that throughout Dreams, the moments that Obama has invented are precisely the occasions of his epiphanies – precisely those periodic “aha!” moments that carry the book and bring its author closer to self-discovery. Without them not much is left: a lot of lovely writing, some unoriginal social observations, a handful of precocious literary turns…. As Obama’s best biographer, David Remnick, observed, this wasn’t the stuff of Manchild in the Promised Land; you couldn’t use it to make … the Autobiography of Malcolm X. So Obama used the drama inside himself, and said he’d found there an experience both singular and universal, and he brought along nonexistent friends like Regina and Ray to goose the story along. He did in effect what so many of us have done with him. He created a fable about an Obama far bigger and more consequential than the unremarkable man at its center.”
From “Barack Obama: The Story”: The character creations and rearrangements of the book (“Dreams from My Father”) are not merely a matter of style, devises of compression, but are also substantive. The themes of the book control character and chronology. Time and again the narrative accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles in his real life but could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white.
Oh yes, I’m the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own..’ “The Great Pretender” (The Platters)
It appears President Obama may persist in his self absorbed attempts to reinvent himself as he would prefer to be. Or his publicity flacks, campaign staff and even his national security advisors are doing it for him. Peggy Noonan’s editorial in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal asks the question, “Who Benefits From the ‘Avalanche of Leaks’?” In the article, she writes about David Sanger’s new book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power”, as well as the sensational New York Times articles that expose sensitive and ongoing American covert intelligence operations, putting our own operatives and those of our allies at great risk. Who benefited from these revelations was a president perceived as “weak, a one man apology tour whose foreign policy is unclear, unsure, and lacking in strategic depth”. President Obama would rather reinvent a warrior and a “do over” from a walking, inept, act of contrition. No lesser light from the Left than Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called these an “avalanche of leaks” and said that her “heart stopped” reading the stories:
- A Pakistani physician, Dr. Shakil Afridi, who assisted the CIA by taking DNA samples trying to locate Osama Bin Laden’s lair was exposed by the stories, arrested within days by Pakistan agents, tortured and convicted of spying for America. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
- A sophisticated infusion of trackable video cameras was inserted into Pakistan to enable satellites to identify and find terrorist leaders hiding there.
- The double agent in Yemen planted deep in Al Qaeda who provided key information about the new, more deadly, airline destroying underwear explosives.
- The joint Israeli American covert Stuxnet virus, a cyber attack, which disrupted the operation of Iranian centrifuges – a cyber attack that could easily be construed as an act of war and used to justify all manner of retribution.
- And others, most of which could only have come from the recesses of the White House situation room. Indeed, unnamed White House officials were quoted liberally in the stories.
Before he left the administration, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, originally a holdover from the Bush White House, visited Obama national security advisor Tom Donilon’s office. “I have a new strategic communications approach to recommend,” he said. “What?” asked Mr. Donilon. “Shut the f*%$ up!” replied Mr. Gates.
Two choices: either the President inexplicably declassified these ongoing operations, which put covert intelligence operatives in mortal danger, betrayed our allies and authorized their leaking to the press OR someone very close to him should be prosecuted for treason.
President Obama has shown himself to be defined by a self reinvented narrative to suit his ambitions. He has proven to be a gifted campaigner and an inexperienced, ideologically hidebound, manipulative chief executive. It is not a far stretch of the imagination to envision him as again up to what he’s best at.
“There is something childish in it: Knowing secrets is cool, and telling them is cooler.” Peggy Noonan