Sunday, August 31, 2008

Obama's Mother

Oops - realized I'd not posted David Maraniss piece - Though Obama Had to Leave to Find Himself, It Is Hawaii That Made His Rise Possible. Was in Washington Post earlier in the week, last Friday August 22nd. Horrible title; it's more about his mother than about Hawaii. But the article provided new information to me, who has read much on Obama.

A few money quotes:
Those who come from islands are inevitably shaped by the experience. For Obama, the experience was all contradiction and contrast.
On Obama and his mother:
Starting at an early age, he noticed how his mother was curious and open, eager to find the best in people and situations, intent on softening the edges of the difficult world for her hapa son. There were many times when this made him think that she was naive, sometimes heartbreakingly so, and that he had to be the realist in the family. To some degree, especially as he tried to explain himself later in "Dreams From My Father," he seemed to use his mother as a foil, setting her up as the quintessential well-intentioned white liberal idealist as a contrast to his own coming of age as a modern black man.

Whether this perception reflected objective reality is open to question. In her dealings later as a community worker and anthropologist in Indonesia and around the world, Ann showed a keen appreciation of the power structure and how to work with it or around it, and her doctoral thesis and other writings reveal a complex understanding of people and their motivations, free of dreamy idealism and wishful thinking. But she certainly tried to present the world in the most hopeful, unthreatening light to her children, first Barry and then his little sister, Maya, the daughter she bore with Soetoro.

Most unusual insight:

Here was an early paradox that helped shape Obama's life, one he would confront again and again as he matured and remade himself: A certain strain of realism can lead to inaction. A certain form of naivete can lead to action.

Check it out.

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