Obama TV Bio Glorifies, Doesn't Scrutinize

Television audiences don't turn to the Biography Channel for the final say on a presidential candidate, but even by the channel's standards their examination of Sen. Barack Obama comes up woefully short.

It may not be fair to call Biography: Barack Obama a glorified campaign ad, but suffice to say the senator's chief media strategist gets the most screen time of all the talking heads assembled.

Don't expect the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, or other explosive Obama allies to make many appearances here.

The special won't air until late summer/early fall, but it's being given a DVD release July 3 in Wal-Mart stores to let people get to know the man who may very well become the 44th president of the United States.

Even die-hard Obamamaniacs won't learn much new, or helpful, about his stances on key issues. Critics complain the senator's "Change" motif is free of real content, but it sounds downright philosophical compared to the lack of detail here.

The story begins, where else, with the senator's coming out party -- the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

There, the untested, unknown state senator delivered a hopeful speech filled with the same unity message the country would hear much more of four years later.

The special then reverses course to share how Obama's parents first met. We meet the couple through old pictures, learning how their interracial coupling yielded a single child, Barack Hussein Obama.

Young Obama spent his first few years in Hawaii, but he wouldn't stay there long. He later lived in Kenya and Indonesia before returning stateside. That familial instability marked his childhood years. His mother and father split while Barack was only a child, and later his mother sent him to live with his grandparents in the U.S. The constantly shifting of homes, plus a gnawing realization that his skin color made him different, took hold.

Identity struggles marked his teen years. Was he black? White? Regardless, he had trouble fitting in. His home life didn't help. While the special strains to avoid painting Obama's father in a negative light, it's clear he made very little effort to get to know his son. And his mother's temporary abandonment clearly didn't help.

While presidential hopeful Bill Clinton shocked some -- and amused others -- with his, 'I didn't inhale" confession, Obama's drug use is just another part of his biography.

Obama complains of dealing with racism in his teen years, but the special can't give us any examples to help us better understand his plight. He felt a growing affinity for those in poverty, yet he attended reputable schools, always wore clean, crisp clothes in his pictures, and, to the evidence on display here, looks to have had a middle class upbringing save time spent in impoverished Indonesia.