Analysis and Political commentary

By Jay B Gaskill

Yet another shadow from our president’s past has surfaced

…on the web, this one from a Honolulu classmate who remembers young Barry Soetoro (AKA Barack Obama) as part of the gay subculture there. I flat out do not care whether our president was or is bisexual. Like Barry Goldwater, I don’t give a damn “whether a soldier is straight, just whether he can shoot straight”. Regrettably, we do not have a straight-shooter in the White House.

High school gossip and rumors aside, the close observers of young Obama’s turgid biography are not surprised by the latest “revelation”, because the dominant themes in young Obama’s life– mutability and a consuming hunger for attention – have not changed.

Rarely has a major political figure matured from teen to adult with so little character development. Barack is Barry by yet another adopted name. He was, is and (it appears) will remain a poseur with entirely mutable values – an attention and adulation hungry “Martian changeling” living among earthlings.

In an April article posted on the Out*Lawyer’s Blog –(http://jaygaskill.com/outlawyer/2013/08/02/our-martian-president/ ) –I developed this insight with two questions

Q: How will remember this president? A: By Mr. Obama’s ever-fluctuating images…

The entire piece is still posted at the above link, and sadly is still relevant. Permit me an extended excerpt:

For most of young Obama’s life as a child and teenager, he was known as Barry Soetoro. Much has been written about Mr. Obama’s life and formative experiences, most of it influenced by his autobiography revealing his early “slacker” period and drug abuse. What will stand out to later historians, I believe, is the singular absence of gripping personal trials and struggles, the kinds of events that shape character. Instead we are left with a narrative that centers on how this young man went about finding himself. The curious thing is that, deep into his presidency, Barack Obama is still trying to find himself. …

I concluded that the fluctuating Obama persona is something fundamentally different: the constant attempt to change one’s essential nature in order to stand out, to advance one’s agenda of personal celebrity by becoming the person that is expected and hoped for by others. …Obama was able to temporarily convince a number of moderate liberals and conservatives – who were vehemently through with Bush II – that candidate Obama was one of them, the long hoped-for post-partisan, post-racial president, the Great Uniter.

…Mr. Obama’s self-styled evolutions on “issues” are reinventions, a series of attempts to cast new spells, to become the new persona that everyone will love. But who is he, really? The quintessentially American literary giant, the late Ray Bradbury, addressed this problem in a compelling short story, part of his brilliant and poetic work, The Martian Chronicles. In Bradbury’s timeless book, earth colonists – men, women and children – lived in tiny communities that evoked small-town 1950’s LA. They settled on the great red deserts of Mars near the ruins of the mysterious, extinct Martians.

In the story, “The Martian”, one lonely surviving Martian wanders among the colonists, having the ability to appear as a loved one that someone has lost. In the story, the lone Martian attaches to a bereft couple by morphing into their missing child and showing up on the doorstep. The Martian-as-hoped-for child is taken in and loved, no questions asked. Eventually the Martian wanders away, only to attach to someone else.

At the end of the story, we learn that the lonely Martian has wandered into and out of the lives of many other people, driven by his own loneliness and exile. The Martian can’t help trying to be that special someone for everyone.

At the end, the Martian finds itself surrounded by a crowd of people, each of whom has lost someone; each is calling out a different name. In agony, the creature tries to morph into these conflicting expectations, first a lost boy, then a lost girl, then a missing spouse. Of course it can’t be done. You can’t “be” the person every other person is looking for.

The Martian’s fatal flaw was that it wanted to follow the expectations of others, by becoming the person someone was longing for. It could not be true to itself without sacrificing adulation. It was a poignant, elegiac, even tragic story.

In 2008, Americans were looking for a new, post-partisan, post-racial leader, the embodiment of hope and change. [Instead] we see reveals little coherent character, a man of several faces, who seeks adulation…The man the crowd wanted to see in Mr. Obama was a blur of faces, fading in and out of view, in a shifting montage that eerily reminds me of Bradbury’s lost Martian.

As I concluded in April…

[W]e are witnessing the collapse of trust, the specter of fading gravitas and a gnawing undercurrent, the foreboding of serious failure. But, so far, this president has been lucky. … There seems to be little prospect of personal growth, of the sudden emergence of sturdy character. Character is not magically conjured by ambition, nor is it installed like a computer program, nor is it imaged by a CAG effect. Character is forged by real trials, not by gestures. We are witnessing a growing consensus that, for this administration’s remaining days, hope is been replaced by disillusionment. Character is the gold standard of trust. Character is missing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trust, ever fragile, is in eclipse.

I could go on, but it is now unnecessary. We Americans are embarking on a lesson in endurance, a crash course in the classic “What were we thinking?” exercise.

From this point forward it’s all about damage control.


Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

First published on The Policy Think Site

Please forward this article as is, including the link, or use pull quotes with full attribution.

For all your comments, questions and other permissions, please contact the author by email at law@jaygaskill.com.

Leave a Reply