Update: If you are interested in understanding how Obama's mother, not his father, made him the man he grew up to be, my new book on Obama is now finished (and even proofread!). You can read it free online (or soon order a copy). Chapter 2 is devoted to her, and it offers the freshest and most powerful explanation of why Obama called his life (in the subtitle of his autobiography) "A Story of Race and Inheritance."
The PDF of my book is 1.8 meg and you can read it here.
Here's my original blog post:
Now, that it's the dead of winter again, reporters are digging once more into Obama's upbringing, mandating additional expense-account research trips to Honolulu.
Here's a long article from the Chicago Tribune "Obama's Mom: Not Just a Girl from Kansas," which reveals a few things of minor interest about the Senator's late mother, whom he likes to stereotype in speeches as rooted deep in the heartland of America in order to balance off the exoticism of his name.
Her first name was ... Stanley. Her father, Stanley, who sounds like a goof, wanted a boy so much that he named her Stanley Ann. She appears to have gone through high school using the name "Stanley," as part of her "Juno"-esque striving for attention as a nonconformist, and only later switched to "Ann."
Obama makes a big deal about her being from Kansas, but she spent her adolescence in the Seattle suburbs. Her parents dropped out of their Protestant church and started attending Unitarian services. She was a high school atheist, leftist and feminist. But soon after her father moved her to Hawaii, much to the surprise of her high school friends, she got pregnant and quickly married the father, just like so many other more conventional teenage girls during the Baby Boom.
Of course, the new husband was a bit of an attention-getter. And there was the problem of his already having a wife back in Kenya, although that's not mentioned.
The descriptions of her sitting around having rap sessions with Obama Sr. and the other developing nations students at the U. of Hawaii are exactly like the equivalent passages in John Updike's 1978 novel The Coup in which the future dictator of Kush sits around at McCarthy College in Franchise, WI from 1955-1959 shooting the bull with the tiny number of nonwhite students plus his white girlfriend, who he will bigamously marry after a pregnancy scare.
One of the themes of Obama's autobiography is his being weirded out by his youngish mom being sexually attracted to dark men. And there's an undercurrent of Obama being freaked out by the realization that his mother pretty much wrecked her life through her attraction to unreliable Third World men and unreliable Third World countries, but, if she had been more sensible, where would he be? This is the kind of thing that leaves Obama sighing deeply over the tragic conundrums of fate, while less self-absorbed people would have a laugh.