I can no more disown [Rev. Dr. Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
A careful look at this incident as Obama described it on pp. 88-91 of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (which I reviewed in 2007) shows that Obama is slandering his elderly grandmother to make Rev. Dr. Wright look better. Obama's white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who was raising him and earning most of the money in the family while his own mother was off in Indonesia working on her 1067 page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing, rode the bus each morning to her job as a bank executive. One day, the 16-18 year old Obama wakes up to an argument between his grandmother and grandfather. She didn't want to ride the bus because she had been hassled by a bum at the bus stop. She tells him:
"Her lips pursed with irritation. 'He was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn't come, I think he might have hit me over the head."
So why didn't Obama's lefty grandfather want to drive his own wife to work? Because to help his wife avoid the hostile, dangerous panhandler would be morally wrong, because the potential mugger was ... Well, I'll let Sen. Obama tell the story:
"He turned around and I saw that he was shaking. 'It is a big deal. It's a big deal to me. She's been bothered by men before. You know why she's so scared this time. I'll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black.' He whispered the word. 'That's the real reason why she's bothered. And I just don't think that right.'
"The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure. In my steadiest voice, I told him that such an attitude bothered me, too, but reassured him that Toot's fears would pass and that we should give her a ride in the meantime. Gramps slumped into a chair in the living room and said he was sorry he had told me. Before my eyes, he grew small and old and very sad. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that it was all right, I understood.
"We remained like that for several minutes, in painful silence. Finally he insisted that he drive Toot after all, and I thought about my grandparents. They had sacrificed again and again for me. They had poured all their lingering hopes into my success. Never had they given me reason to doubt their love; I doubted if they ever would. And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fear."
Then Obama drives over for counseling to the house of his grandfather's friend Frank, an old black Communist Party USA member, who tells him:
"What I'm trying to tell you is, your grandma's right to be scared. She's at least as right as Stanley is. She understands that black people have a reason to hate. That's just how it is. For your sake, I wish it were otherwise. But it's not. So you might as well get used to it."
"Frank closed his eyes. His breathing slowed until he seemed to be asleep. I thought about waking him, then decided against it and walked back to the car. The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment. I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone."
Man, what a family full of drama queens! And now Obama is equating his own grandma, who was the main breadwinner in this dysfunctional family circus (and who is still alive, living in the Honolulu highrise where this scene took place), with Rev. Dr. God Damn America.
The Washington Monthly's liberal blogger Kevin Drum, who voted for Obama, commented about this scene and others:
"Obama routinely describes himself feeling the deepest, most painful emotions imaginable (one event is like a "fist in my stomach," for example, and he "still burned with the memory" a full year after a minor incident in college), but these feelings seem to be all out of proportion to the actual events of his life, which are generally pretty pedestrian."
So, in summary, let's look at how Obama smeared his own elderly but very much alive grandmother, calling her:
"a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
Well, no, according to Obama's 1995 book, it is not at all true that she "once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street." Instead, she once confessed her fear of one aggressive black beggar who didn't pass by her but instead confronted her, demanded money, and then gave her -- an intelligent, level-headed woman who had worked her way up to a mid-level corporate management position -- good reason to believe he would have violently mugged her if her bus hadn't pulled up.
If this was some doofus politician like Bush or Biden who retold the story in a misleading fashion, you might view it as just their usual struggle with using the English language to get across what they really kind of, sort of mean. But Obama is so superb with words that it's perfectly reasonable to hold him accountable for choosing to slander his own living grandmother for his political advantage.