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?
And now we have the ridiculous spectacle of a literary agency which specifically by its own policy requests authors to supply biographical detail, and made several changes over 17 years to Obama’s biography as he progressed in his career, without ever changing his claim to Kenyan birth, claiming it was a “clerical error.” That becomes all the more ridiculous when one learns the agency finally made the change in late April of 2007 when Obama was running for the presidential nomination, apparently in response to the latest revise of the bio sent to Obama in early April. Clearly Obama had been directing the changes to his agency biography right along for the previous 17 years. And that is exactly what I would have expected after many years in publishing in which I have never seen a clerical error in an author’s birthplace listing in his publicity material, or ever heard of one.
One can forget the “birthers” and the question of a valid birth certificate issue. We can even forget arguing over what the eligibility clause means and whether it needs to be amended.
We now have a far more serious problem. We have a sitting president of the United States running for reelection who has proven himself a liar in a matter that directly raises the issue of his eligibility for office. People have been sent to jail, or thrown out of the armed forces for questioning it, and now we see they were right.
And it is our own damned fault, not Obama’s.
In questioning former and current officials in the White House, Treasury Department, Secret Service, and the FBI, I have asked a simple question. Presidential candidates for the nomination get Secret Service protection which costs the American taxpayers millions of dollars. Did these departments and agencies require any proof that any of the potential nominees satisfied the constitutional eligibility clause for the presidency before spending a penny? After all, the FBI is in the business of grinding out tens of thousands of security clearances for government employees and civilians working with the government as well. They know just what to do and how to research. And compared to a six-month long FBI full field investigation of the kind I went through as an Army officer needing top clearances in security and cryptography, it is child’s play to simply run down and authenticate birth records and the residency requirement that satisfy eligibility. And it can be done in one week.
To my astonishment no one had ever heard of any presidential candidate of any party having undergone an eligibility test for the highest office in the land. And no department or agency had been assigned the task.
So while low-level government clerks making $30,000 a year could cost another $30,000 getting cleared as needed for their jobs, and grannies and toddlers, congressmen, senators, and journalists were being molested by the TSA “to insure security,” anyone running for president has a clean pass.
Now while beginning the process tomorrow might seem as harsh and discouraging as, say, Florida insisting on voter IDs for its 53,000 dead voters, somehow I don’t see anyone with their papers in order objecting to it. Romney’s vice-presidential selection team is working to make sure any vice-presidential candidates are eligible since they might succeed to the office of the Presidency.
And no one can say, after the problems caused by the uncertainty over Obama, that this problem isn’t worth solving. Hans A. von Spakovsky suggests the Federal Election Committee as a possible coordinator, since it includes representatives of both political parties who would presumably keep one another honest. And the FBI could easily do the legwork.
We have squandered “the Peace Dividend” at the “end of history” and we are back to the world as a dangerous place. Risking a fraud in the presidency is unacceptably dangerous. It must stop now.
So for now, as far as I am concerned Obama is a Martian. And he’d be well-advised to consider what happened to the Martian in Bradbury’s story. Separated from his “parents” in a crowd, all of whom have lost loved ones, the Martian has to quickly shift from one of the missing to another causing the entire crowd to rush towards him with joy and anticipation, and he dies from spasms caused by trying to change so many times for so many competing interests.