‘Obama was the Central Character in His Letters’


I only made it through a few pages of Vanity Fair’s long piece “Becoming Obama.” I’ll save the rest for when I’m trying to fall asleep.

But a couple of things did jump out at me.

Obama was the central character in his letters, in a self-conscious way, with variations on the theme of his search for purpose and self-identity.

I’m assuming he’s found his purpose by now, but he’s still the central character in everything. Just listen to one of his speeches.

Looking back on that period from the distance of the White House, Obama recalled that he was then “deep inside my own head … in a way that in retrospect I don’t think was real healthy.” But the realization that he had to “absorb all the traditions” would become the rationale for everything that followed. “There is no doubt that what I retained in my politics is a sense that the only way I could have a sturdy sense of identity of who I was depended on digging beneath the surface differences of people,” Obama said during an interview. “The only way my life makes sense is if, regardless of culture, race, religion, tribe, there is this commonality, these essential human truths and passions and hopes and moral precepts that are universal. And that we can reach out beyond our differences. If that is not the case, then it is pretty hard for me to make sense of my life. So that is at the core of who I am.”

Whose traditions did he absorb? When has he reached out beyond our differences? When he said “I won?”

Oh, and we also found out that he turned his white girlfriends into a “composite” for his book Dreams from my Father, as if they were interchangeable. In his mind, they probably were.

Oh well, Diane Sawyer on ABC News was impressed. She gushed over young romance, or something like that, when leading up to the story on the evening news. Nothing surprising there.

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