The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Mommy Weirdest

Posted on | April 21, 2011 | 32 Comments

“To describe [Stanley Ann] Dunham as a white woman from Kansas turns out to be about as illuminating as describing her son as a politician who likes golf. Intentionally or not, the label obscures an extraordinary story — of a girl with a boy’s name who grew up in the years before the women’s movement, the pill and the antiwar movement; who married an African at a time when nearly two dozen states still had laws against interracial marriage; who, at 24, moved to Jakarta with her son in the waning days of an anticommunist bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were slaughtered; who lived more than half her adult life in a place barely known to most Americans, in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world; who spent years working in villages where a lone Western woman was a rarity; who immersed herself in the study of blacksmithing, a craft long practiced exclusively by men; who, as a working and mostly single mother, brought up two biracial children; who believed her son in particular had the potential to be great; who raised him to be, as he has put it jokingly, a combination of Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and Harry Belafonte; and then died at 52, never knowing who or what he would become.”
Janny Scott, New York Times Sunday Magazine

Some people might uncharitably describe Barack Obama’s mother as a “weirdo” or a “flake,” but my purpose in linking this article is not to invite readers to pass judgment on Stanley Ann Dunham Obama-Sotero. Rather I would call your attention to the thumbnail biography of the writer:

Janny Scott . . . a reporter for The New York Times, went on leave in 2008 to write “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” from which her article in this issue is adapted.

So the Times grants extensive leave to one of its reporters to permit her to write what is (we can be sure) a glowingly laudatory word-portrait of the president’s mother, a book that is then promoted with a 6,000-word feature excerpt in the paper’s Sunday magazine.

For those unfamiliar with the newspaper business, a standard op-ed column is 750 words, so this book excerpt is the equivalent of eight columns. That’s a helluva lot of space to devote to promoting a book about the president’s late mother.

I’m just sayin’ . . .


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