May 29, 2014

Everything You Cannot Know About Obama Is In This Photograph

What are ordinary Americans to make of this strange man-child who has, through sloth and design in the media, sloth and inattention among the body politic, and cupidity, corruption and chicanery within his dark political machine, risen to dominate the landscape? What are ordinary Americans to make of this most un-American of all our erstwhile leaders; a man profoundly ungrounded in the American earth? It is a protean question, painful and difficult to contemplate, to which ordinary Americans will give but a partial answer this November.

In the meantime, there will be an ever increasing addition of possible answers and pondering added to the already towering tsunami of non-information available on the subject of Obama. It is by now a commonplace that never has so little been known about so pivotal a figure in our history. In this case partial ignorance leads not to bliss but rather an opera buffa that is sung in the key of existential distress and portends a finale that is not "a comedy tonight," but a Roman Tragedy replete with fire and blood.

Conspiracy abhors a vacuum and we've had more than our share of theories, speculations, dire warnings, and dark murmurings about a leader's life that is, in many ways, less documented than the undocumented Democrats oozing across our southern borders.

With Obama the best that can be said is, "All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned." We simply do not know enough, even now, to know who this stranger among us is. We sense, dimly at first, but with increasing conviction that he does not mean us well and that he is controlled by some strange amalgam of interior compulsions. The hallmarks of his administration's actions and his speeches seem to be to do many small but insidious things in deep background, a few large and destructive moves in the foreground, give as few details as possible, take no questions, and, if a question is taken, to give no answer. It is an administration that sees no foreign enemies, only domestic ones. Theories about his history and his current character and motives abound as facts fade. The chances are that when he departs the stage most will still say, "Who was that masked man?"

We could ask, in the words of Sinatra, whether this man with the power is "a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn or a king?" But we'd get no answer that would satisfy. We might as well read tea leaves, read auguries from the flights of flocks, divine answers from sheep's entrails, or descend into the subways and read the words of the prophets on the walls between the stations.

Or, in the spirit of divination that has lately gripped the nation, we can simply look at a photograph from a simple time in the man-child's life. As the writer said in Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school."

Or in the sand on a beach in Hawaii:


A toddler sitting and laughing on the shoulders of his grandfather, who would become the only father figure the child would ever know. Perhaps it was while looking at this picture that Obama or his ghost writer came up with, in Dreams From My Father, “One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders as the astronauts from one of the Apollo missions arrived at Hickam Air Force Base after a successful splashdown." The shoulders of the grandfather seem to loom large in the legend.

The photograph holds, as so many people’s photographs do, one of the happy moments. But I’d like to see the next few moments. I’d like to see what happened next after the laugh. I’d like to see what that boy in the background with the stick raised as if to throw it at the heads of the toddler and grandfather in the foreground did. Did he let it fly? Did it strike the laughing toddler in the back of the head? Did an abrupt attack from behind form a lasting impression? Or did it miss? Or was it merely a brief gesture signifying nothing?

One can imagine all sorts of next moments but know none of them. Which is, of course, the problem with the burgeoning field of “Obama Historical Studies.” This man’s personal history is simply a collection of small tokens separated by vast swathes of time empty of data and detail. The one thing we can be certain of is that these empty spaces, these profound absences without leave, are not due to happenstance but due to design.

Later in the dubious “autobiography,” the aptly short-titled Dreams, we stumble across this statement: "I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight."

Maybe that’s how it works still. Maybe that's at the root of the grand bargain made between this man and the media and those that voted him power. He keeps his trouble hidden and many decide to just leave him alone and live with him. That would explain the curious silence that soaks sheaves of his erstwhile supporters that are not currently getting checks cut by the Obama Booster Industry. It’s the policy of a profound invert, “I don’t tell so you don’t ask.”

At this point, trying to understand who or what Obama was is like peeling an onion. You unwrap layer after layer and when you reach the core you have nothing; you have the Oakland of American politicians, a man who has no there there.

This is the central fallacy and futility of "Obama Studies." You cannot, in the end, understand a person as carefully crafted as Obama by examining the past. He has no past. He’s the man upon the stair that was not there. You can only understand Obama in the present by looking at what he and his minions do.

Once your attention is directed away from the past and into the present it all becomes as simple as that snapshot from the beach. What one sees is a man of dubious ancestry rising on the shoulders of a previous generation, stalked by a paranoid fantasy , and becoming, as a result, a bad man with an evil intent, supported by a rag-tag collection of apparatchiks, with a megalomaniac design for a bleak future; a man that does not stand with his feet planted in the American soil, but forever in the backwash of the slow Pacific swell on its most distant shore.

But in the end it is also clear that this man is not wholly someone who has been invented by himself or others in the shadows, but by us as a country and a culture. Simply put, this leader who cannot lead is the fruit of our more than 50 years of downward drift and rising degeneracy. In this we are like the happy toddler on the beach waiting for a stick in the back of the head to wake us up or put us down like an old dog; like, as Ezra Pound wrote so long ago, "an old bitch gone in the teeth, a botched civilization."

Posted by Vanderleun at May 29, 2014 1:50 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

So frightening. Yet, so true.

Posted by: Gloria at May 26, 2010 10:11 AM

Just. Wow. That was worth reading again, but this time aloud.

Posted by: Patvann at May 26, 2010 10:17 AM

Obama is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma --- covered in hatred for America.

Posted by: blastineau at May 26, 2010 10:34 AM

If "men trust their eyes more than their ears", they should trust what they see in those ears. Little wonder Obama does not discourage fictions.

Posted by: james wilson at May 26, 2010 10:51 AM

Regardless of the facts about Obama's origins, this much is true: All the adults in his young life jerked him around. By the time Obama was old enough to make his own decisions, he had no foundation upon which to build. He doesn't act like an American because he never bonded with Americans. So he joined a cult, and that never works out well. For Obama, America is an abstraction. The results are nothing short of disastrous.

(It is not a surprise that he was attracted to Michelle. She came from a strong, intact family and that is what he desired most. But the damage was done long before she came on the scene.)

Posted by: Deborah at May 26, 2010 11:09 AM

We are stuck with him, so now we have to deal with it. The question is, how?

Posted by: Cilla Mitchell, Galveston Texas at May 26, 2010 11:19 AM

I believe I know what all the secrecy is about. Barry is a gay American. He never had a girlfriend except the fictional one Bill Ayers wrote about in Dreams. John Drew recently wrote about his meeting with Barry at Occidental and his relationship with his sugar daddy Chandoo. He though they were both gay.
Also, Barack's mannerisms are often feminine.

He married Michelle for his career and because she was authentically black. Name any prominent black man who has ever married a woman darker than himself? You can't.

Posted by: Janice at May 26, 2010 12:50 PM

Arthur, why is it you persist in thinking there are things I don't know about my sources? I approve of Fulghum.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 26, 2010 4:03 PM

"There's Obama to bash."

What can one say other than that every President gets his time in the barrel.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 26, 2010 4:04 PM

Wrong. On every count. It's amazing by how much the little you know can shrink almost infinitely.

As for "divining everything worth know from a photograph," read again. Pay particular attention to the headline.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 26, 2010 5:18 PM

Hey Artie, how much does Obama himself care about the oil spill in the Gulf? At a time he should be mobilizing effort to stem the flow, he's out in the Bay area eating caviar with the deep pocket Hollywood libs at a Babs Boxer rally.

Posted by: bill at May 26, 2010 10:14 PM

Still it's interesting how little attention you pay to the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.

Posted by: retro Jordans at May 27, 2010 12:44 AM

Are you under the impression no attention is being paid? What are you? New?

Posted by: vanderleun at May 27, 2010 1:38 AM

A very interesting vignette Gerard; as ever, thoughtful and fair, but nonetheless replete with gut instinct, analysis and pointers that arise from experience, objectivity and odds-on probability, rather than just odds-against possibility.

For my own part, I look at the meretricious brooch in which this mysterious part-glittering, part-clouded, unclassified oddly cut mineral has been set, to value it. I wouldn't give you tuppence for it. (I speak of course of the subject rather than the essay).

I allow that the prism of my own cynicism can sometimes give a distorted image, but not nearly as often as dreamers would have us believe. Only time will tell and you probably have more of that than I have. What is clear to me is that the USA has very little time to correct a terrible mistake.

Posted by: at May 27, 2010 5:18 AM

Although some of the comments are a little personal, the article itself points out the basic "mystery" of the man. Personally, I see him as the next world socialist leader. I think he sees right past the presidency and is working on a larger stage already. When he said he would rather be a "successful" one term president, I think he meant it. His vision is global, and he will jam his socialism down our throats in order to secure his legacy and move on.
In my life, I've never seen a president who did not see the office as the culmination of his career. We are looking at one now.

Posted by: Kevin Barry at May 27, 2010 6:07 AM

The true histories of all demagogues are invariably very personal, KB. Fidel, Adolf, Joe, Mao, Karl, Jean-Jaques, all extraordinary. In Obama's case the truths are stranger than the fictions, and as confusing. That is likely not an accident, but a strategy.

But if Vanderleun's story is about the audience and why we volunteer, to understand the one is to better understand the other. Which the Chairman alluded to early on in his blank slate speech.

There is a degree of cynicism that is so astounding that ordinary people cannot reach it without feeling foolish. That is where the intelligencia hides.

Posted by: james wilson at May 27, 2010 9:53 AM

"It's tons more fun to fantasize about Obama."

That description fits the 0's followers and supporters, rather than those who question the most questionable man.
Arthur and those like him offer only a precise, living definition of the term "Cognitive Dissonance".

Posted by: kcpopps at May 27, 2010 11:04 AM

I love my wife.

I love my kids.

I love Yosemite Park

I would never want to fundamentally change anything about those 3...

If Obama loves his country as he has stated, why does he say he wants to "fundamentally change it"?

Posted by: Patvann at May 27, 2010 11:37 AM


If Obama loves his country as he has stated, why does he say he wants to "fundamentally change it"?

For the answer to that question you have to look at a similar creature from an earlier time. Pick up a copy of Toland's biography of Adolph Hitler and read it. You will find your answers there.

He reminds me of what Alistair Tudsbury said about Hitler in Herman Wouk's "Winds of War". I will not quote it all here but you can find it on page 39 of that book.

Here is a truncated quote...

"Can you picture the bizarre and horrible triumph that we let him get away with, dear fellow? I saw it all. Something straight out of Plutarch, that was! A zero of a man, with no schooling, of no known family-a drifter, a failure....The man was a foreigner, Henry! H was an Austrian. They had to fake up a citizenship proceeding for him so he could run against Hindenburg! And I myself watched this man ride in triumph through the streets of Vienna-the sole heir to the combined thrones of the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns....This grotesque fantasy happens to be the central truth of our age."

Posted by: Nahanni at May 27, 2010 12:04 PM

Excellent piece.

Posted by: Carter at May 27, 2010 12:53 PM

Yes, Nahanni, and as a German of that day said about Hitler, he had the gift of speaking stupidly to his audience in such a way that they might think themselves as clever as he was.
We are the ones we have been waiting for. But in the event anyone does not understand, we have Artur.

Posted by: jams wilson at May 27, 2010 1:15 PM

But not for long. Rumor has it that Arthur will soon be off to the Gulf to join Obama is just sucking it up.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 27, 2010 2:23 PM

I'm sure she is.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 27, 2010 4:22 PM

Hey Arthurstone...Let's go head first into non-sequiturville, and stop messin around.

My dead mom can beat up your dead mom.

Now isn't this much more fun than actually trying to come up with dispute the fact that Obama isn't worthy of his position?

Nahanni and Jams are right, when the dumbed-down populous is infatuated with a leader, bad things happen. And those unthinking, (but soooo feeeeling) among us will historically be the ones infatuated by even the worse mankind has offered.

-Notice the past-tense. Because even given the historical evidence, they still haven't learned what blind allegiance to a demagogue is, nor what it enevitably leads to if not stopped.

Hitler. Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez...All initially loved by the left, and in some cases still idolized... even after the demicide of over 150 million humans by their hands in 150 years.

Go Che!

(My dead mom can beat up Che's dead mom, too.)

Posted by: Patvann at May 27, 2010 8:49 PM

I would never compare you to Adolf, Art--may your ma remain at peace--but rather Dolfie to Barry; two silver tongued orators in the art of saying nothing.

Give them both credit for seeing us so plainly. I would not have acknowledged who we were had Barry not become President. But the Chancellor honed his instincts in a tougher school and then played for seven years before getting in over his head. I do not see Chairman Obama making two.

Posted by: at May 27, 2010 11:41 PM

Kevin Barry's comments really make sense. Remember the talk of Bill Clinton becoming the Secretary General of the UN?

In the current state of world affairs, this puppet stands a good chance.

Posted by: bobham at May 28, 2010 9:04 AM

I agree that Obama is clearly Un-american who is bent to destroy US. This man ought to be impeached before he does more damage.

Posted by: C. Samuel at May 28, 2010 11:45 AM

In a just world this would win a Pulitzer.

Posted by: Pedro at May 28, 2010 9:24 PM

About the kid in the background; this is my impression of his stance and what it could mean. He is actually pointed in a direction away as if he was going to throw to his right and not to his left and was temporarily distracted from what he was throwing at. Since he is not a major league ball player he is not going to come around a full 90% to make a throw for home plate!

Posted by: jlfintx at June 1, 2010 12:22 PM


I wish I had more time to tear apart this piece, but I don't. Actually, is it a satire on pieces critical of Obama? It is so pompously written, you can't be serious. Can you?

[More serious than thou art, rockybutte. But feel free to come by again with your trenchant analysis when you have less time.]

Posted by: rockybutte at June 2, 2010 12:53 PM

I linked this over at Flopping Aces, and Rockybutte had the exact same response when I asked for the specifics driving his angst...Over there he claimed he hadn't the time for me, but instead would come over here and take you on...

It looks like he sure showed you.


Posted by: Patvann at June 2, 2010 11:40 PM

I was shot to pieces by that drive by.

Posted by: vanderleun at June 2, 2010 11:51 PM

The older Barry gets the more he looks like his dad.

Posted by: james wilson at May 30, 2013 10:24 AM

@ james wilson at May 30, 2013 How can you say he looks like his dad when we really do not KNOW who is dad was? Just asking.

Posted by: Terry at May 30, 2013 10:45 AM

You are looking at his dad, Terry. The riddle is, who's his mom?

Posted by: james wilson at May 30, 2013 1:13 PM

What we see when we look at BO is Barry Dunham-Soetoro-Obama. Was there a legal name change from Soetoro ? We see someone who has been managed since this name change. To find his sponsors to Columbia and Harvard, is an answer. To understand the actual president, Iranian, Valerie Jarrett is some of the answer. To understand 49% of the electorate is really the answer. The empowering of the 49% and their elevation above our heritage is the answer.

Posted by: Grace at June 2, 2013 11:10 PM

Who has no authenticated birth certificate ?
Who doesn't have an authenticated selective service card and shouldn't be able to have a government job ?
card and shouldn't be allow to have a government j
Who has a lost passport and international travel record ?
Who has a Connecticut Social Security number ?
Who is Kenyan, Indonesian, Christian, Moslem or mulatto when it suits the occasion ?
Who had a composite girlfriend and life.
Who is a media creation ?

Posted by: elr at May 29, 2014 7:38 PM

Poor kid with the stick in the background. To live every day with the regret at not following through…. very difficult.

Posted by: Milo Galt at May 30, 2014 11:58 AM

I want, No, I DEMAND to know who that man is.
It is my right as a Citizen. It is also my responsibility.
I believe that everyone in this Country should be demanding this simple fact, and NOT taking "No" for the answer!

Posted by: Neil - SANKEY at May 31, 2014 5:52 PM

Obama, at his age now, looks just like his maternal grandfather. They have the same ears, hairline, jaw and eyes.For all we know it could be his father and not his grandfather. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility as far as Obama is concerned because of all the lies and secrecy. WE all know he got into the oval office via deceitful and nefarious means, and it does not matter who did what before, it is not to be excused using some comparative measures! Barak Hussein is a proven liar with allegations of illegal citizenship status, undocumented parentage, and has shown to be un-American and treasonous. What else do we need to remove him from the seat of commander in chief? This is not all propaganda and political intrigue but an authentic crisis within our government that is getting more overt,emboldened and dangerous every day.

Posted by: regina mcglashen at May 31, 2014 8:51 PM

The one statement that always stayed with me was his 'You didn't build that'.It visibly upset him when that statement was mocked by others.The 'why' makes you ponder the statement itself.It was untrue in the context used,and is something you've never really heard used at all,or very often at most.It sounds more like something told to a swaggering politician who has just won a fixed political contest,only to be brought back to earth by the person or persons who made the win possible,and who expect payback of some kind.Quite possibly,it reveals more about him than he intended.

Posted by: millard fillmore at June 1, 2014 7:59 AM

You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart. "If you feel yourself falling, let go and glide." by Steffen Francisco.

Posted by: zbawienie at June 12, 2014 5:44 PM