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In New Biography, Obama Asks: Am I An American?
Townhall.com ^ | May 16, 2012 | Byron York

Posted on 05/16/2012 4:35:04 AM PDT by Kaslin

Ever since the 2008 campaign, many voters, and some journalists, too, have felt they know Barack Obama's life story. In fact, the story they know is the one Obama told them.

Obama's first memoir, "Dreams From My Father," published in 1995, has become the semiofficial record of his life. But it is not the complete record of his life. It's partially fictionalized, with composite characters who Obama has always acknowledged were created to make the story read better. It focuses on a few themes Obama wanted to present to the public about himself. And, as with any memoir, it is told completely from Obama's point of view. It's not a biography.

Next month the beginnings of an Obama biography will be published, by former Washington Post reporter David Maraniss. Readers wanting to learn about Obama's entire life will be disappointed to discover that Maraniss stops when Obama is age 27, as he finishes work as a community organizer in Chicago and heads to Harvard Law School. Obama's law school years, his practice of law in Chicago, his campaigns and career as an Illinois state senator, U.S. senator, presidential candidate -- none of that will be covered.

Still, an excerpt of the Maraniss book published recently in Vanity Fair reveals a portrait of Obama that might have enriched the voters' understanding of him in the 2008 campaign, when many Americans were eager to learn about this new, fresh face in politics.

The excerpt focuses on Obama's brief time in New York after his graduation from Columbia University. The son of a Kenyan father and an American expatriate mother, Obama emerges as a man questioning whether he viewed himself, or wanted to be viewed by others, as an American. Not in a citizenship sense -- Obama was born in the United States and that was that -- but in the sense of how he saw the world and wanted to be seen by it.

Obama had a lot of Pakistani friends; Maraniss writes that if Obama and his girlfriend socialized as a couple, "it was almost always with the Pakistanis." Obama appeared to identify with his friends as fellow non-Americans. "For years when Barack was around them, he seemed to share their attitudes as sophisticated outsiders who looked at politics from an international perspective," Maraniss writes. "He was one of them, in that sense."

But Obama was ambitious. Appalled by the "dirty deeds" of "Reagan and his minions" (as he wrote in "Dreams From My Father"), Obama became increasingly interested in, as Maraniss writes, "gaining power in order to change things." He couldn't do that as an international guy hanging around with his Pakistani friends; he needed to become an American.

So he did. One of those Pakistani friends, Beenu Mahmood, saw a major change in Obama. Mahmood calls Obama "the most deliberate person I ever met in terms of constructing his own identity," according to Maraniss. The time after college, Mahmood says, "was an important period for him, first the shift from not international but American, number one, and then not white, but black."

Mahmood, Maraniss writes, "could see Obama slowly but carefully distancing himself as a necessary step in establishing his political identity as an American."

Years later, the picture of Obama as a young adult wondering whether or not he was really an American was precisely the image that the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted to impose on the middle-aged Obama. In internal memos, top Clinton strategist Mark Penn questioned Obama's "lack of American roots," writing that "Obama's roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

Clinton didn't come out and say that during the campaign, but she did everything she could to present herself as the all-American candidate in the race. Her campaign didn't play Tom Petty's "American Girl" at all her rallies for nothing.

In the general election, the contrast between Obama and John McCain was, of course, even more stark. At the age Obama was wondering whether he was an American, McCain, the son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals, was a newly commissioned officer at Naval Air Station Pensacola, headed for a noteworthy military career. It seems unlikely McCain spent much time musing on whether he was an American.

In the end, as the Maraniss excerpt has it, Obama chose to become an American in part because that's what he needed to be to accomplish his goals. The story of what he did after that momentous decision will, unfortunately, have to wait for another biography.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: maraniss; obamabio; vanityfair

1 posted on 05/16/2012 4:35:04 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

If Granny Warren can be a Cherokee than Obama’s an American.


2 posted on 05/16/2012 4:37:43 AM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Kaslin
Obama "the most deliberate person I ever met in terms of constructing his own identity,"

True dat.

3 posted on 05/16/2012 4:42:20 AM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Kaslin

Maybe The Won was “born” an American.

Maybe not.

He certainly wasn’t “raised” an American.


4 posted on 05/16/2012 4:42:52 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Kaslin

american is as american does


5 posted on 05/16/2012 4:46:09 AM PDT by dontreadthis
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To: Kaslin

His whole administration is fictionalized!

I really (to the power of 10)he is voted out in NOV!

This situation can and will get worst if he is allowed to remain another 4 yrs...


6 posted on 05/16/2012 4:49:43 AM PDT by BCW (http://babylonscovertwar.com/index.html)
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To: BCW

You said it


7 posted on 05/16/2012 4:50:35 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

Faux American.


8 posted on 05/16/2012 4:55:03 AM PDT by Ann Archy ( ABORTION...the HUMAN Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: Kaslin

Obama.....Who’s your daddy??


9 posted on 05/16/2012 4:56:29 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Ann Archy

You got it


10 posted on 05/16/2012 4:57:29 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

. . . The Nation’s intellectual class swoon over the biography of Clyde Barrow! Mr. Maraniss’ wonderful book takes us all the way through that January 1930 day when Mr. Barrow visited a friend in West Dallas and met Bonnie Parker . . . .


11 posted on 05/16/2012 5:12:18 AM PDT by WilliamofCarmichael (If modern America's Man on Horseback is out there, Get on the damn horse already!)
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To: Sacajaweau

Y-DNA testing would solve/answer that question. I wonder why no one has done it yet.


12 posted on 05/16/2012 5:17:26 AM PDT by mtngrandpa
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To: Kaslin; mickie
Obama was born in the United States - and that was that.

Oh, yah!

Leni

13 posted on 05/16/2012 5:17:34 AM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: Kaslin
“O” never wanted his ‘ticket punched’ here in America until or unless there was a personal, immediate, concrete benefit to him personally.

None of us has ever had that kind of grudging, calculated and unwholesome approach to American citizenship ... and everything that goes with it.

But then, WE we not playing hard to get until we could parlay our allegiance to the highest bidder in exchange for the standing, credibility, and notoriety necessary for election to public office!!!

14 posted on 05/16/2012 5:31:21 AM PDT by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: Kaslin

What’s the over/under on the number of biographies Great Leader will pen throughout the course of his life?


15 posted on 05/16/2012 5:33:10 AM PDT by AD from SpringBay (We deserve the government we allow.)
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To: Kaslin
Faux-bama. Kenyan, Indonesian, Gay, Muslim, Anything But American. Faux-bama.
16 posted on 05/16/2012 5:33:25 AM PDT by Missouri gal
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To: Missouri gal

Obama - the epitome of “the other”.


17 posted on 05/16/2012 5:34:10 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: Kaslin

He’s out of college, and he doesn’t know if he’s an American? And he’s hanging out with Muslim Pakistanis?

This is good material for a soap opera, but perhaps not a Presidential biography.

We don’t know what Obama is, either, but there are some fairly good guesses.


18 posted on 05/16/2012 5:36:55 AM PDT by popdonnelly (Socialism isn't going to work this time, either.)
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To: Kaslin

American citizen? Perhaps. A real American? Never!!!


19 posted on 05/16/2012 5:43:15 AM PDT by pgkdan (ANYBODY BUT OBAMA!)
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To: Kaslin

America is entering the era of a new cultural phenomenon, that of the “Obama Fiction” as a literary genre.

Satirists and tongue-in-cheek political hacks, as well as a new breed of faux biographers and ad executives will blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction categories in a competitive spiral that will suck in scientists, journalists, restaurant critics, physicians, Hallmark card writers, psychoanalysts, playwrights, poets, gossip columnists, beer connoisseurs, graffiti artists, singer-songwriters, and idiot savants.

The (soon to be inaugurated) Annual Walter Mitty Awards will be hosted in LA each year by rappers with obligatory felony records. The Port Huron Statement will be read aloud at the outset of the ceremony, and the festivities will traditionally feature guest speakers from both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the New Black Panther Party. Prizes will consist of various quantities of cocaine and Kobe steak.


20 posted on 05/16/2012 5:45:53 AM PDT by dagogo redux (A whiff of primitive spirits in the air, harbingers of an impending descent into the feral.)
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To: Kaslin
top Clinton strategist Mark Penn questioned Obama's "lack of American roots,"

I can guarantee you a small group of Clinton's crew has stunning oppo on Obama. It will come out when either Obama or Clinton leaves the game.

21 posted on 05/16/2012 6:00:15 AM PDT by Mr. Bird
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To: Kaslin
Obama had a lot of Pakistani friends; Maraniss writes that if Obama and his girlfriend socialized as a couple, "it was almost always with the Pakistanis." Obama appeared to identify with his friends as fellow non-Americans

OR

he appeared to identify with his friends as fellow Muslims.

22 posted on 05/16/2012 6:18:04 AM PDT by CaptainK (...please make it stop. Shake a can of pennies at it.)
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To: Kaslin

I do not even have to read the book to know my answer as certain as I do not need to commit murder to know the Holy
Scriptures are right and we are wrong in our desire to allow a murderer to live. Is Obama an American — the short answer is NO! He manifests the progressive intent to erase our embarrassing Constitutional requirements that a man be a
Natural Born Citizen (as defined by Vattel) to assure the
allegiance to our Country and our way of life. His “community
organizing /Communist style of governance his contempt for our Constitution and Laws all convict him when he claims “I am an American.”


23 posted on 05/16/2012 6:25:44 AM PDT by StonyBurk (ring)
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To: MinuteGal
Obama was born in the United States - and that was that.

So you say, but can you prove it?

If a liar tells you he's not lying...

24 posted on 05/16/2012 6:55:59 AM PDT by GBA (Read: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn If you read this anything this year, read this book!)
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To: Kaslin

No. Regardless of where he was born, BO did not have the typical American upbringing. We have nothing in common. A damned foreigner is running our country into the ground.


25 posted on 05/16/2012 12:03:09 PM PDT by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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