Obama’s current identity crisis over Kenyan or Hawaiian birth scenarios recalls perhaps the most touching story in Ray Bradbury’s classic Martian Chronicles. A man and his wife on Mars are mourning the loss of their young son, when he suddenly turns up on their doorstep again.
The couple doesn’t question their good fortune. It is enough their boy has somehow been restored to them. But it is not their son. It is one of the few surviving Martians using their telepathic powers to seek out human families with a lost member. By mirroring the dead or missing family member, the Martian can stay alive and cared for a while in what was once their home and now is becoming an alien world.
Bradbury’s Martian shows all the qualities of Helen Deutsch’s famous definition of the “as if” borderline personality: “a spasmodic, if skilled, repetition of a prototype without the slightest trace of originality …another characteristic of the ‘as if’ personality is that aggressive tendencies are almost completely masked by passivity, lending an air of negative goodness, of mild amiability which, however, is readily convertible to evil.”
Obama’s Dreams From My Father shows the pain and emptiness of the life of a lonely boy with an absent father, dragged from one place to another by his largely absentee mother. He is quite candid about his attempts to define himself over the years. As a dependent child, like Bradbury’s Martian, Obama does his best to survive by mirroring the culture of the household he lives in at a given time. But by his college days he undertakes a new plan. The people he chooses to associate with, the places he goes, and his career path are all calculated on the basis of the best information and the most useful contacts he can find. And it is a work in progress.
Obama’s story keeps changing perceptibly along with his “presentation of self” (to borrow a phrase from Erving Goffman) from the cool kid in Hawaii, to the semi-hipster at Occidental who hangs out with rich Pakistanis, to the underground radical at Columbia, the Harvard Law School gamesman getting himself elected president of the Law Review when he had never even written an article for it, and finally getting wired in Chicago, borrowing black street cred from Michelle and Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Cook County power connections from Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko on the way to a career in politics.
Repeatedly Obama has shown a willingness to say whatever he thinks it will take to mirror what his audience needs to see at a given time. He has tried to make a very privileged childhood going to fancy expensive schools sound poverty-stricken; he accused his dead grandmother who had left him $250,000 of racism; he makes false claims his mother had terrible problems with health insurance; he denied the role his aged benefactor, Harlem power broker Percy Sutton, played getting him into Harvard Law. He has tried to hide Bill Ayers’ and his wealthy father and mother’s work supporting him financially and with their Chicago access and foundation connections. And finally he rejected Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his “spiritual mentor” for over 20 years, because he had become a political liability. And that is just part of the list.
Now we have the ridiculous spectacle of clear evidence that Obama had been posing for many years as having been born in Kenya while later changing his birthplace to Hawaii. It fits the Martian scenario nicely. At a time when scholarships might be more available to a “foreign student” than to an American student, a lot of students have gotten away with phony claims that they deserve special consideration as “foreign.” We even have their professors like Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren making phony affirmative action claims to advance their careers. Why not Obama?
And there are extensive records that a lot of people all over the world had somehow gotten the word that Obama was Kenya born… in a speech on the floor on the Kenyan National Assembly, statements from his Kenyan grandmother, newspapers from Ghana and Nigeria to London and the United States, a peculiar statement by Michelle Obama that Kenya was Obama’s “home country,” even NPR. Was there some kind of strange airborne virus that carried this delusion into the governments and news media of the world, even deceiving Obama’s wife and grandmother?