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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2007 / 28 Shevat, 5767

Barack Obama and the breakdown in family

By Linda Chavez


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Barack Obama, the Illinois freshman senator who hopes to occupy the Oval Office, strikes me as a man uncomfortable in his own skin. I say that having just finished reading Obama's first book, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," written before he decided to enter the political world and was therefore less careful about revealing his own doubts, fears and confusion.


The book, a combination of strikingly lyrical prose interspersed with mundane liberal platitudes, describes Obama's search for identity. That search takes him from a childhood in Hawaii, where he was raised mostly by his white, maternal grandparents; to the Southside of Chicago, where he tried to organize public housing residents; to Kenya, where his father was born and where his half-siblings, aunts, cousins and grandmother still live.


Throughout the book, Obama is obsessed with race. But it is not the usual preoccupation with racial discrimination, though he occasionally invokes this as well. Instead, Obama imbues race with almost magical qualities. Race defines character, culture, history, even personal fortune.


But with all his endless fixation on race, Obama never fully comes to grips with the single fact that is responsible for his own confusion about who he is. Obama was abandoned: first by his father, a Kenyan undergraduate who met and married Obama's mother while on a scholarship at the University of Hawaii, and then by his mother, who remarried after Obama's father left, divorced again, and sent Obama to live with his grandparents.


His father, whom Obama met only once as a 10-year-old, was married and the father of two by the time he met Obama's mother and married her. The circumstances of their marriage — whether he was even free to wed — are sketchy, as is their divorce. One thing is clear, however, Obama's father (also named Barack) was a troubled man.


After abandoning his new wife and son to attend graduate school at Harvard, the elder Barack met another woman — also white — whom he married, fathering two more children. Obama Sr. returned to Kenya, where his new wife insisted that he give up his African bride, though he frequently paid her visits and fathered at least one, possibly two more sons (the younger son's paternity remains in question because the first wife also had taken other lovers). But this marriage didn't last either, so his father moved on to yet another woman, in a long chain of broken families that ended only with his death in a car accident when Barack was 21.


Obama tells us less about his mother, who is still alive. She is missing through most of the book. Even when Obama describes his time in Indonesia when he lived briefly with his mother and her second husband, an Indonesian, the details are sketchy.


What does come across, indirectly, is Obama's sense of loss when his mother sends him back to Hawaii to live with her parents, while choosing to keep his younger half-sister with her. Obama describes his awkward reunion with his grandparents at Honolulu's airport: "suddenly, the conversation stopped. I realized that I was to live with strangers." This can't have been easy on a 10-year-old boy.


"Dreams from My Father" never directly grapples with the question of what these abandonments did to shape Obama. Instead, Obama chooses to portray himself as caught between two worlds: the white, middle class world of his mother's family and the African tribal system of his absent father. But Obama's African heritage explains almost nothing about who he is, and racism barely touches him growing up in multi-racial Hawaii.


Family history should neither be a qualification nor disqualification from becoming president. But Barack Obama's history cannot help but shape the person he is today, just as Bill Clinton's dysfunctional family shaped him.


If Sen. Obama spoke more about the troubled state of marriage and its consequences, if he acknowledged that the absence of fathers was the single most important factor in explaining persistent poverty among blacks, if he understood that the traditional family is becoming an endangered institution, perhaps he'd have something new to say to the American people.


Instead, he's chosen the safer political path. He talks about racial healing, ending partisan bickering and providing universal health care. But he ignores the single most pressing social issue of our day — and one on which he could speak with some authority: the breakdown in family.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate

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