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Obama: How He Got Here: The Ghost of a Father

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Adelante Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 09:56 AM
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Obama: How He Got Here: The Ghost of a Father
This biographical piece will likely be of no interest to anyone anti Obama, but for Obama supporters and others who may be open to him, especially those who were abandoned by their fathers or who otherwise lost their fathers in childhood, it's good reading.

The Ghost of a Father

By Kevin Merida
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007; Page A12

Sometimes the trigger will be a newspaper story he is reading about Africa. Or he may spot a group of boys on a street corner on the South Side of Chicago and think that one or more of them "could be me, they may not have a father at home." At other moments, he will be playing with his daughters -- Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6 -- and begin to wrestle with what kind of father he has become, what a career in politics has meant to their lives and how to guard against his father's mistakes.

Thoughts of his father "bubble up," as Barack Obama puts it in an interview, "at different moments, at any course of the day or week."

"I think about him often," he says.

He last saw his father in 1971, when he was 10 years old. Remarried and living in his native Kenya, Barack Obama Sr. sent word that he wanted to visit his son in Hawaii over Christmas.

To the son, he had become a ghost, an opaque figure hailed as brilliant, charismatic, dignified, with a deep baritone voice that reminded everyone of James Earl Jones. All the boy knew was that his father had gone off to study at Harvard and never come back. Now, the old man would put flesh on the ghost.

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TwilightGardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:15 AM
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1. What a great, somewhat sad read--thanks for posting.
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NYCGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:27 AM
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2. A brilliant article. Glad to recommend! NT
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K Gardner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:39 AM
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3. That is a very moving article and sheds valuable insight on a complex and extremely
intelligent man. Thank you for sharing.
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insanad Donating Member (286 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:33 PM
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6. Hope for Our Nation
I recently read Barack Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father". One of the things that was so compelling about his words was the depth and introspection he gave to seeking his own history and lineage through his father. His father was absent most of his life and in some ways, just the sire donating half of Baracks genetic makeup. Little was actually learned from his father in his childhood so one could suggest he was a non-entity. That would be easy to dismiss if he'd been white but a Black father makes Barack a black man, even though his mother was white. It's intersting how we can assume that looking more black than white infers a cultural connection. Barack seemed to be torn between both worlds and still struggles to combine the differences and similarities he's faced with.

Almost half the book was an accounting of his journey to Kenya to learn about his father, his half siblings, the relatives and ancestors and country that his father was from. I was impressed with the grace in which he dealt with some really crappy stuff but one thing that seemed to dominate the experience was the entire families expectation for him to rescue them. Sacrifices were made to make sure his father could go to college, and when he died penniless, the expectations were then transferred to Barack. He'd never grown up with these people, knew little of them as a child, never even experienced a cultural experience close to what they knew in Kenya, but in spending time with them he felt a sense of place and connection that he couldn't experience with his own mothers family.

One thing that Barack Obama seems to show great skill and talent in is his ability to bring together the right people and groups to accomplish a goal. He doesn't cater to the special interests or succumb to being bought but he does know that he has to play some of the games with these people in order to accomplish a greater goal. Abraham Lincoln used similar skills in unifying diverse people and groups to help maintain some progress in the government. I believe we need a president who can look beyond cronism and the separations of government factions to accomplish worthwhile goals.

One thing I do know is that "We The People" are fed up with the Bush Administration. I read and hear so much and wish I could do something more worthwhile than write, complain, and vote. I'm not inclined to assassinate, but wouldn't mind seeing the Doofus behind bars and held accountable for all he and his henchmen have done. It's too bad we can't draft his daughters into the Marines or National Guard and send them to Iraq, just so he could have a taste of what he's inflicted on so many other American families. Until then, I'll just have to wait for the vote and do my part to help someone, Barack, Al Gore, or on last resort even Hilary Clinton to be elected.

Perhaps I'm like Barack's extended family, hoping he will rescue the nation from the neglect and corruption of the previous administration. Whomever is elected will be handed a bag of broken glass and will have to be a true artist to make a stained glass window of the whole mess. Perhaps Barack can unify and blend the right people and groups to make some sense of the mess. I sure hope so.

There are so many layers to the story of Senator Obama and his work, his history, and especially his motives to serve the people of Illinois and hopefully the rest of America when he is elected President. I was initially impressed by his grace, his physicality and the easy way he spoke of noble ideals, patient efforts, and the legal process that envelops his political career. These are the easy superficial things that most of America sees on Oprah, or soundbytes that are intermittently flashed on the news. Even the frequent and sometimes ridiculous debates hosted by Wolf Blitzer barely scratch the surface of what is behind the contemplative and very compelling gaze of Senator Obama. I've even heard some suggest that he's holding back some important life saving ephinay of wisdom and plan that he will someday reveal to those of us who know he is far more intelligent than what the blurbs can reveal on a 30 second newsclip. I can say without any hesitancy that he is full of worthwhile ideas, worthwhile dreams, and even more, worthwhile plans that have plausibility in their enactment. This faith in a man, any man or human being, especially a politically directed human being is something completely foreign to me since I've long believed anyone worth having as a leader would not bother to involve himself in something as filthy as the political machine here in America.

Purveyors of misinformation, negativity, and manipulated information have suggested that Barack Obama may not be "Black Enough", or that he's an elitist pampered mama's boy raised in private schools and fed with a silver spoon in a typically white America. A "Fresh Prince" innuendo that tends to alienate and scare off many that share his culture and blood. After reading his website and personal service history, as well as his own very tender family history I can say ( loudly if necessary), that BARACK OBAMA represents every nuance of the cultural diversity that is America. He proudly affiliates himself with those of his own culture and race. He proudly reflects the hard working, self sacrificing efforts of his middle class, middle America, "white" mother and grandparents. He seems to seamlessly blend the observations of his youth with the realities of our national diversities. There may not be any easy answers to our multiple cultural and racial needs, but if anyone can relate, can deeply understand, and empathize on any side of the fence, Senator Obama can. If anyone dares to doubt his sincerity and depth of understanding, I suggest to them to read, research, and open their hearts and minds to the very things he's done, written, and experienced. I cannot imagine anyone feeling more inspired and convinced of his noble promise after learning about him from his own words than I did.

Whatever the future holds for him and us as a nation, we are all better off for having him in our lives. I only saw him from 100 ft. away, only read a borrowed book, only volunteered at his Vegas headquarters, and only gleaned from his website from the privacy of my own home, but I feel like I know him. I care about what he cares about. I believe in the things he is willing to work and fight for. I hope with passion and devotion to the causes he works toward. There is so much more behind the somewhat pensive and serious man that is seen at a distance. There is gentle but direct strength. There is conviction, thoughtful direction, purposeful action, and most of all HOPE. We all HOPE for his vision and ideals to find a strong supportive nation to help implement them. We all HOPE a person like him can help unify the various fractures that plague our national body. We all HOPE with the right leadership, our collective needs and values will be respected and given light. There are no simple answers, especially since anyone who will adopt this incredibly shattered national mantle will have to be an artist in piecing a virtual stained glass window of the various shards. I believe that Senator Obama has the skills and ability to unite the necessary leaders to help create a new, brighter, more colorful and inclusive window into the American Presidency and the policies it must reflect. I feel excited, nearly giddy with HOPE for what our future can be if we do our part to help this man become the next President of OUR United States.
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Larkspur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:44 AM
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4. I lost my father when I was 2 years old
My mother never remarried and she raised my 2 older brothers and me. She did get help from my father's family. My aunts and uncles were very good to my mother, brothers, and me.

I get really annoyed at Xtian Fundies whose welfare solution is to push women to remarry if they have kids. My mother married my dad because she loved him, not because she loved his paycheck. She never found another soul mate to marry, but thanks to FDR we had Social Security. My dad also had life insurance and my mother went back to school to get a teaching degree.

I only got to know my father from stories my mother, aunts and uncles told.

Obama's life story is very interesting. I have problems with him mimicking Lieberman.
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 10:50 AM
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5. I like Obama. I dislike his campaign for responsible fatherhood -
Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) has been on this path for a long time and I think it is wrong. Why?

It is a form of "blaming the victim" - in which people whose families have been torn apart by the constant stresses of living in a low socio-economic status community and/or being a target of prejudice are blamed for the problem. Their situation is a result of their bad choices -- and they are "different" in important ways from middle- and upper-class populations.

It is a way of reinforcing male dominance in our culture. Children just can't be raised right without a daddy. Responsible fatherhood campaigns feed a top-down, security-craving, the-President-is-my-daddy-and-I-have-to-obey-him world view.

I am all for laws that require men to contribute $$ support to their children who they've helped bring into this world -- absolutely. But the PSAs and speeches about responsible fatherhood are NOT really about getting fathers to support their children they are about maintaining a paternalistic culture.
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