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Obama in 1990:”A little too good to be real”


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Vanity Fair has this blog comment by one of their writers on an interview she had with Barack Obama in 1990 when he became president of the Harvard Law review.

The author concludes:-

But reading the article today, I do wonder why this man—the current repository of so many other people’s hopes and dreams—made virtually no impression on me. All I can guess is that, even back then, he seemed admirable as hell, and also a little too good to be real.

Interestingly the concluding sentence above, much like the concluding sentence extracted below from the 1990 article have a similar tenor. A sense, a vague one perhaps, that Obama seeks to present himself in a favourable light to everyone, that perhaps there is not much more than the shell, on which people paint the picture they wish to see.

Adam liked this quip as well:-

I wish I could say, as so many have, that he struck me as a future-president-of-the-United-States type. If anything, I thought the guy was easy to talk to, had a killer backstory, and gave great quote. After which I erased the entire experience from my mind.

The 1990 article is here.

Now the comments below seem at variance with Obama’s currently reported history:-

He saw brutal poverty while growing up in Singapore with his mother, an anthropologist, and his half-brothers and -sisters in Kenya still live hand to mouth at times.

Adam thought Obama spent time in Indonesia not Singapore. Adam having lived in Singapore in the 1970s would refute the suggestion of brutal poverty, but certainly there was brutal poverty in Indonesia. Perhaps Obama mis-spoke or the reporter got it wrong.

Obama says that his late father’s experience in the Kenyan government left him a broken and bitter man, and he responds warily to the assumption that he himself will run for office. “If I go into politics it should grow out of work I’ve done on the local level, not because I’m some media creation.” Though, as media creations go, he’d be a pretty good one.

Note the prescient final sentence.

One Comment
  1. Andrew D permalink
    28/07/2008 21:37

    I think you were right, he did spend several years in Indonesia as a child, my authority on this is his memoir. As far as I know the Singapore mention is just wrong. He’s not that exotic though, the majority of his childhood and teenage years were spent in Hawaii.


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