As Ed Klein reveals in his eye-opening new book on Barack Obama, “The Amateur,” our current president chose to become a Christian for purely political reasons.
“I can tell you that I made it easy for him to come to an understanding of who Jesus Christ is,” the Rev. Jeremiah Wright told Klein, “and not feel that he was turning his back on his Islamic friends and his Islamic traditions and his understanding of Islam.”
Obama, always ambitious, needed a base in Chicago’s black community, and Wright’s large, politically wired church provided it. Wright acknowledges as much.
As with his choice of a church, Obama’s selection of a bride was fragrant with calculation, not only on an emotional level but also on a political level. To run for office in Chicago, Obama needed a wife and not just any wife.
And yet after four years in Chicago, and 10 years on the mainland, Obama was still a swinging single. To the degree that he was dating women, they were likely all white.
Sort of like the way Fannie Mae bundled subprime loans into a generic CDO, Obama was able to create a “composite” white woman for his 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”
Obama could not afford to dwell on any white woman, let alone multiple white women, in a memoir that was written to get him elected mayor of Chicago. The black women at the core of his future constituency would not approve.
Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick suggests this in his 2010 book, “The Bridge.” A black campaign worker in South Carolina tells him that Obama’s selection of a black wife, particularly a dark-skinned one, “matters to people here.”
Princeton political scientist Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a black female who had attended Obama’s church, elaborates, “I don’t think Obama could have been elected president if he had married a white woman.” She adds, “Had he married a white woman, he would have signaled that he had chosen whiteness.”
Thus in “Dreams,” right after telling his half-sister Auma about the mystery white woman, Obama adds, “There are several black ladies out there who’ve broken my heart just as good.”
Obama biographer David Maraniss may have found a couple of Obama’s white girlfriends, but I would bet that he and the Chicago office of the FBI will not be able to find any of these black heartbreakers.
The one black woman Obama speaks of at any length in “Dreams” is “Regina,” a girl from Chicago he meets at Occidental College. Obama describes her as “a big, dark woman who wore stockings and dresses that looked homemade.”
And although Obama has no romantic interest in Regina, Remnick rightly describes her as a “harbinger” of Michelle, more literary device than flesh and blood woman. It is she who sets him on his journey to find his inner African-American.
“Her voice.” Obama writes, “evoked a vision of black life in all its possibility, a vision that filled me with longing – a longing for place, and a fixed and definite history.”
The home life Regina describes – “evenings in the kitchen with uncles and cousins and grandparents, the stew of voices bubbling up in laughter” – proves a powerful lure for Obama.
In “Dreams,” it is Regina who convinces Obama to abandon the name “Barry.” “Do you mind if I call you Barack?” she asks. “Not as long as you say it right,” he answers.
In 1995, Obama had no idea just how famous he would become. He did not anticipate that others would discover that the “right” way to say his name was the way his father had, BARR-ick, not buh-ROCK. Still, this re-branding would actually help pave his way to the presidency.
Obama was back in Chicago after a year at Harvard when he met his future wife. In Obama’s 2006 book, “Audacity of Hope,” Obama writes, “I met Michelle in the summer of 1988 while we were both working at Sidley & Austin.”
But did Obama really meet Michelle at Sidley & Austin? And was it actually 1988? In 2009, speaking to university students in Russia, Obama wondered out loud, “I don’t know if anyone will meet their future wife or husband in class like I did.”
No, in fact, Obama did not meet Michelle in class, and it was not 1988. He met her at Sidley & Austin in 1989. As shall be seen, there are some serious date manipulations in the Obama narrative. This is not one of them. This is what happens when other people write your books.
It is only toward the very end of “Dreams” that Michelle comes into the picture, and she fulfills the core promise of Regina’s vision.
As described in “Audacity,” Michelle’s kitchen sounds suspiciously like Regina’s – “uncles and aunts and cousins everywhere, stopping by to sit around the kitchen table and eat until they burst and tell wild stories and listen to Grandpa’s old jazz collection and laugh deep into the night.”
“Dreams” culminates in Obama’s wedding to Michelle.
At his most passionate, Obama says of his new bride, “In her eminent practicality and Midwestern attitudes, she reminds me not a little of Toot [his grandmother].” That description must surely have warmed Michelle’s heart.
But then again Obama did not select Michelle for her warmth or her heat. He almost surely chose her for future votes. She rooted him in the African-American experience. He could not get elected in Chicago without a woman quite like her.
At the peak of the Rev, Wright flare-up, Obama played his Michelle trump card. “I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners,” he boasted in his bellwether speech on race, “an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.”
Once out of Chicago, however, Michelle – “For the First Time in My Adult Lifetime, I’m Really Proud of My Country” – Obama has proved only slightly more of an asset than Jeremiah Wright.