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Has Obama Been Vetted?

The question almost answers itself--the press is in love with him. Glenn thinks that he has, but as his reader points out, it's only been by the left. Interestingly, when the Clinton campaign attempted to go at him obliquely from the right, tainting his electability by talking about his race or past drug use, it was viewed with opprobrium. But in fact there are a lot of unanswered questions about him, and now that he's looking like the likely nominee, the true vetting on the right is starting. For instance, was he a red-diaper baby? If so, should we care? Is to ask the question (and yes, I am asking the question) intrinsically dirty politics? Is it "McCarthyism"?

But here's a more interesting issue that is just starting to surface. Michelle Obama hasn't gotten a lot of attention, and particularly negative attention, to date. But that's starting to change as well, with her apparent inability to come up with anything about which to take pride in America in the past quarter century. They're supposed to be the first "post-racial" candidates. But are they?

...the evidence is plain that Barack and Michelle Obama both belong to that subset of educated black Americans to whom their own blackness is of obsessive interest, or at very least was up through their college years. Barack famously wrote "A Story of Race and Inheritance", about his own long struggles with his racial identity.

Now here's Michelle Obama in the current Newsweek cover story. She graduated from Princeton in 1985 with a major in sociology and a minor in African-American Studies. Sociology, huh? At first sight that's encouraging -- I mean, at least she didn't spend her entire college career obsessing about her blackness. Then Newsweek tells us the title of her senior sociology thesis: "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." (I have this mental image of her thesis adviser saying: "Michelle, isn't there some way we can squeeze another 'black' into that title?")

Again, does it matter? At least in her case?

A little history is in order here. Once upon a time, a man ran for president. He had a law degree. So did his wife. Both from Yale, to be specific. In fact, the wife was lauded by an adoring press to be one of the most brilliant women in America, if not the world. But there were things about her that were not only not reported, but actively kept hidden (and we're not just talking about the Rose law firm billing records). One of them was her college thesis, which only recently became available for the public's perusal. Why was it secreted away for the eight years of the presidency? And why should we have cared?

Well, one of the themes of that presidential race was that the superwoman would be a "co-president," that the fortunate nation would be getting "two for the price of one."

So now enter Barack Obama, a charismatic young man with a message of, if not from, Hope, with a law degree of his own and a wife with a law degree as well (both from Harvard). Now he hasn't been campaigning as a two-for-one special, but it's very clear that his wife strongly influences him in his campaign, and there's no reason to think that she wouldn't do the same as commander-in-chief. So, even setting aside the issue of whether we want someone who values "feeling" over "thinking," it seems reasonable to wonder about her political views and methods as well, particularly if we're going to get a "co-president" by stealth.

And as we wonder, what do we discover? That (assuming the report is correct) her college thesis has been embargoed until election day. Like Jonah, I wonder why as well. What are they trying to hide? Something that can't simply be laughed off as the naivety of youth?

I also wonder what other similarities to another aspiring first couple there are.

[Update a little later]

I hadn't read that entire WSJ piece, but deeper down in it, we find this:

In her senior thesis in 1985, Mrs. Obama wrote that her college experience "made me far more aware of my 'Blackness' " than ever before, adding, "I will always be Black first and a student second" on campus. At Harvard Law, Mrs. Obama, involved in the Black Law Students Association, pushed hard to improve the low numbers of African-American faculty and students.

"We got into big debates on the condition of black folks in America," says Harvard classmate Verna Williams. "She's got a temper."

I guess someone read it before it was locked away.

Does she remain this aggrieved? Based on her very recent statement that her husband's presidential campaign is the only thing praiseworthy about America, one suspects so.

[Update an hour or so later]

How do they do that? I only posted this an hour or so ago, and it's already in the top ten of a Google search for "michele obama princetonn thesis." And they didn't even spell "Princeton" or "Michelle" right.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Someone just did a search on it spelled correctly (after reading this post?), and it was only in the top thirty, not the top ten.


[Late afternoon update]

Per the commenter who answered my rhetorical questions above about "red diaper" babies. I agree. So does Andrew Stuttaford over at NRO. It will probably be a counterproductive avenue of attack.

But here's something interesting in regards as to whether or not Obama is an empty suit. One of the questions was how effective his speeches are without a teleprompter. Now the issue is how effective his speeches are without his ability to plagiarize others' speeches:

Speaking at a Town Hall in Texas, and the Deval things appears to already be having an effect. He was reading straight from a speech in front of him on the lectern, instead of the famous sweeping oratory, complete with hand gestures and eye contact. He stumbled a lot, and the ideas were awkwardly phrased. He was talking about the mortgage crisis, which I'll admit, I don't fully understand myself, but he clearly didn't understand it either. I don't know if he's tired, or if he feels he can't use his normal stump speeches for the time being, or if it was the format, or what, but it was weird for sure. I've grown used to the other Obama, the confident, consummate Obama.

Apparently, if true, he's not only lost without his teleprompter--he's been using a lot of stock phrases as part of his magician's patter that he's no longer able to use, and his speeches are suffering for it.

[Mid-evening update]

The Anchoress is thinking along the same lines as I am--is Michelle Obama the new Hillary?

[Another update a few minutes later]

Is David Axelrod the man behind Obama's curtain?



FC wrote:

What sort of thesis has any discussion of the author's own "awareness"? Apparently the social sciences are as big a waste of time at Princeton as anywhere else.

Bob wrote:

Cognitive Science theses sometimes discuss the awareness of the author as well as the awareness of others.

Bob wrote:

Re Red baby diapers

I haven't seen any evidence in the National Review piece or elsewhere that Obama's family had any involvement whatsover with communists of any flavor.

But just imagine that his family did. So what? Senator Obama (D, IL) isn't a communist.

Why stop at asking about "red diaper babies"? My question: What has to be true of a person's parents before that person is qualified to be in a position of trust, such as being a banker, a surgeon, or a President?

Disqualifying job candidates because of who their parents were, or what their parents did, instead of because of who the job candidate is and what he or she has done, seems like a good way to miss out on very good candidates. I'd be very surprised if there is much disagreement about this point.

Anonymous wrote:

Disqualifying job candidates because of who their parents were, or what their parents did, instead of because of who the job candidate is and what he or she has done, seems like a good way to miss out on very good candidates. I'd be very surprised if there is much disagreement about this point.

I wouldn't, especially if you ask people responsible for conducting security clearances of non-politicians.

Someone who wanted to be a Secret Service agent and protect the President would certainly be asked such questions. Why shouldn't someone who wants to be the President?

Anonymous wrote:

the "proud of America for the first time" comment would probably not be a problem by itself but this is the Obama couple's third strike. Obama has refused to wear a flag pin and he's been photographed not standing or putting his hand on his heard during the anthem. That's three strikes. Anybody clearly showing this much contempt for America has no business being his President. But the Liberal media will bury this because they have the same contempt, absolutely want a democrat in the White House, and they've lost faith in Hillary, so they'll put this empty suit on their backs and carry him to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. if they have to. And they will.

Anonymous wrote:

The whole truth about the flag pin:

The whole truth about the anthem:

"My grandfather taught me how to say the Pledge of Allegiance when I was 2...During the Pledge of Allegiance you put your hand over your heart. During the national anthem you sing."

Anonymous wrote:

Questioning Obama's patriotism on the basis of flags and anthems is silly anyway. The Constitution is what makes the United States great. The President isn't asked to uphold flags or anthems, but instead, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

To quote Obama himself (referring to the fact that he was a professor of constitutional law): "I will be a president who has taught the constitution, who believes the constitution, and will obey the constitution of the United States of America."

poetryman69 wrote:

Energy Independence Now!

No more Oil Wars!

Stop funding the terrorists!

Drill in Anwar.

Build more nuclear power plants

Use More coal.

Use more natural gas

Turn trash into energy

Double the efficiency of windmills and solar cells.

If France can do nuclear power so can we.

If Brazil can do biomass/ethanol power so can we.

If Australia can do LNG power so can we.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on February 19, 2008 10:44 AM.

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