March 27, 2007

Obama as the postmodern John Cheever of Honolulu

In one of the more memorable passages in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama more or less admits that his book's portrait of Hawaii is a fictionalized projection of his own self-pity and resentment.

On p. 340, he is in his late 20s, visiting Kenya, and on his way to meet his father's third wife (and second white American wife Ruth) and her son Mark, Obama's disturbing doppelganger, his half-brother who is home on vacation from Stanford, where he is a physics student.

"Ruth lived in Westlands [in Nairobi], an enclave of expensive homes set off by wide lawns and well-tended hedges, each one with a sentry post manned by brown-uniformed guards. … The coolness reminded me of the streets around Punahou [Obama's Honolulu prep school], Manoa, Tantalus, the streets where some of my wealthier classmates had lived back in Hawaii. Staring out Auma's car window, I though back to the envy I'd felt toward those classmates whenever they invited me over to play in their big backyards or swim in their swimming pools. And along with that envy, a different impression -- the sense of quiet desperation those big, pretty houses seemed to contain. The sound of someone's sister crying softly behind the door. The sight of a mother sneaking a tumbler of gin in midafternoon. The expression of a father's face as he sat alone in his den, his features clenched as he flicked between college football games on TV. An impression of loneliness that perhaps wasn't true, perhaps was just a projection of my own heart, but, that, either way, had made me want to run …"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

The John Cheever reference is priceless, but maybe Obama was simply remembering the Carly Simon song,
That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be:

My father sits at night with no lights on
His cigarette glows in the dark.
The living room is still;
I walk by, no remark.
I tiptoe past the master bedroom where
My mother reads her magazines.
I hear her call sweet dreams,
But I forgot how to dream.

My friends from college they're all married now;
They have their houses and their lawns.
They have their silent noons,
Tearful nights, angry dawns.
Their children hate them for the things they're not;
They hate themselves for what they are-
And yet they drink, they laugh,
Close the wound, hide the scar.

Anonymous said...

What, no analysis of the poetry Obama wrote for the student magazine at Occidental? C'mon, you're slipping.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, please put that poetry link in html format, like this, minus the brackets: Obama's poetry.

Otherwise we can't click on it.

Anonymous said...

Fred, you screwed up the link, so I'll just have to cut and paste Anon's one.

That takes all of 5 seconds...

Anonymous said...

What's most interesting is the disdain for Middle Class life as "not cool enough"

Most people LIKE watching sports on TV. It's FUN. Most people LIKE living middle class lives with a little money to spend. They don't construct elaborate "they're very lonely" idiot fantasies. They want to BE middle class.

Only someone who's never had to worry about the rent or the next meal would write something like that. Just like the spoiled hippie Mom he came from.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama's first campaign commercial,

is misdirected also, and wont appeal to voters in the south in particular....

Anonymous said...

Oh jeez, I hate adolescent angst and neuroticism. It's so unattractive.

And I really can't stand the type of navel-gazing cultivated in the Ivy League. These people have had no real material problems in their lives, so they've got to make the drama up. Or what real personal drama they've had, they've got to cast it in epic terms. It's not enough that one has had a less-than-savory parent indulging in age-old vices, it's got to be some sort of comment on race and society.

dearieme said...

I can see that this Baghdad Osama chappie is pretty flawed, but if the alternative is that Clinton minx, wouldn't it be wiser to settle for the devil you don't know?

Anonymous said...

Well at least in the case of Ruth,Obammy may have had a good point. I can well imagine her "crying softly" behind closed doors because that big baboon Mr. Obama just got finished beating the hell out of her!

Anonymous said...

Cheever was gay - hmm...maybe, Obama is on the down-low, too.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sailer, I beg you, get rid of comments! You walk a very thin line, but often make good points. How many people who would otherwise give you a fair hearing instead dismiss you out-of-hand after taking a dip in this sewer?

Svigor said...

Mr. Sailer, I beg you, get rid of comments! You walk a very thin line, but often make good points. How many people who would otherwise give you a fair hearing instead dismiss you out-of-hand after taking a dip in this sewer?

...and you chose this thread to make your point? I can only assume you mean referring to Obama Sr. as a "baboon."

Peecee is funny. 99% of its acolytes would nod solemnly at referring to a wife-beater as a "baboon," until they found out he's black, then they'd recoil in horror. After all, it's racist to refer to a black as a baboon, regardless of context (even wife-beating), but not racist to immunize a whole race against any given characterization, based solely on race.

These are the people that presume to dictate behavior to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather see a piece on Obama's policies and the inner workings of his campaign than conjecture on words he wrote years ago reminiscing about his youth. It it not truly relevant and highly speculative. Take a look at this Harper's article for something that might be a little more relevant:

Anonymous said...

...and you chose this thread to make your point?

Okay, fair enough Svigor. Upon rereading the thread you're right, but you have to admit, the comments are usually at least 20-30% bad apples, and Steve's not doing himself any favors by allowing them.