One thought on “The Rise of Obama

  1. M H

    I enjoyed your take on “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama” in The Federalist. I want to provide you with a bit of personal perspective.
    I too grew up mostly in Hawaii but as the son of a Military Officer and about five to ten miles from where Barack Obama grew up. I moved away at about the same time as Obama did and came back at about the same time as he did. Unlike Barack Obama I left before starting high school.
    People in Hawaii can be placed on a spectrum with native rural Hawaiians on one end and flowered shirt wearing tourists on the other. While you might find that unseemly, don’t worry, Hawaiians will be willing to do that for you. This is especially true for kids in Hawaii wanting to establish the playground pecking order.
    There’s a word for non-native Hawaiians, “Haole”. Various definitions are given but essentially it means “not-Hawaiian” and is more and more useful the closer something is to being Hawaiian. Barack Obama was a haole. If he ever wanted to think of himself as more Hawaiian than not, he would be reminded by any native Hawaiian that he was in fact NOT Hawaiian with a “No, you’re haole.”
    So not only did he move back and forth from one place to another as a kid but even when he moved back home, he was told that in fact, it was not his home. That he was not really of the place he was from.
    Not enough is made of the amount of TV he watched in his early life. For a kid moving from here and there, TV is an escape to belonging. A fantasy world where people are objects and watching Gilligan’s Island reruns reinforces that objectified view of people. Moreover time spent watching TV is time not spent socializing. What he gained in an unrealistic view of the world he lost in the personal back and forth that turns people from acquaintances to individuals. He grew up a viewer and not a participant.
    Given that upbringing it’s no surprise that Barrack Obama is at least sympathetic to the post-modernist view that society and especially politics is a struggle between superficially defined groups, each with their own equally valid thoughts on “truth”.

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