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O’s Inchoate Beginnings

June 5, 2012

Our inchoate president’s inchoate beginnings. As dimly viewed through a few memories of a few located and leaking old friends. And ameliorated by the compassionate and loyal spin of both author and reviewer.

The various and very discouraging early estimates by the wise of the diagnosis and the prognosis of presidential disabilities receive substantiation from the newly revealed testimony.

The suppression of documentary evidence and the weird general silence from still living acquaintances suggest that assessments of character are unlikely to improve.

Barack Obama with his grandparents Stanley Armour Dunham and Madelyn Dunham in New York in the 1980s.

Books of The [NY] Times / The Young Dreamer, With Eyes Wide Open / ‘Barack Obama: The Story,’ by David Maraniss /

Mr. Obama’s mentor in community organizing in Chicago in the mid-1980’s, Jerry Kellman, recalls that he “was one of the most cautious people I’ve ever met in my life,” reluctant to burn bridges or employ the sort of aggressive actions (like storming City Hall) that Mr. Kellman favored.“He was not unwilling to take risks,” Mr. Kellman said, “but was just this strange combination of someone who would have to weigh everything to death, and then take a dramatic risk at the end. He was reluctant to do confrontation, to push the other side because it might blow up — and it might.”

One reason Mr. Obama decided to get into community organizing, Mr. Maraniss suggests, had to do with a search for “moral purpose.” Though he regarded his mother as something of a naïve romantic, and often evinced a “low-level anger about her frequent absences,” she always remained, in Mr. Maraniss’s view, “the conscience of his inner life”: he would never shed the conviction, nourished by her, that he couldn’t “sit around like some good-time Charlie,” that he was expected to do good.

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