Back in 2008, Michelle Obama charged that Americans faced a “veil of impossibility,” and “only one person will snatch that veil of impossibility off their heads.” Michelle proclaimed,
“I am married to the answer,” and “for the first time in my life I am proud of my country.”
In this and other speeches, Michelle came across with the fury of a “Parking Wars” encounter. In her new book Becoming, however, the former first lady says, “I was a disappointment to feminists, lacking a certain stridency.” She may also lack a certain consistency because her book confirms that in America it was possible to advance long before her husband came on the scene.
Her father Fraser Robinson’s job at a Chicago water filtration plant provided the family with a middle-class lifestyle. Fraser drove a Buick Electra 225, a top-of-the-line luxury car. Michelle attended Whitney Young High School where “it was safe to be smart,” and “you never hid your intelligence for fear of someone saying you talked like a white girl.” All through the book, Michelle sees everything through a racial lens.
Some Chicago families moved to the suburbs in search of “whiteness.” Washington was “just a faraway city filled with a lot of white buildings and white men.” The capitol “confused me with its decorous traditions and sober self-regard, its whiteness and maleness.” And she divides humanity into “people of color” and the other kind.
Readers will learn about life in the White House and Michelle reveals the former first family’s experience with in vitro fertilization. Michelle styles herself as a “first mom” but in regard to her husband, she is something of a guardian.
Becoming portrays the future president as an “exceptional” and “gifted” student who “worshipped books.” At Columbia he “consumed volumes of political philosophy as if it were beach reading” and “spent all his spare change on books.” She provides no titles or quotes and, as during his presidency, no sense of broad erudition emerges.
Michelle’s husband, the future president, “sold his idea for a nonfiction book about race and identity.” For obvious reasons, she doesn’t mention that in the 2017 Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, biographer David Garrow proclaimed Dreams from My Father to be “historical fiction” and the author a “composite character.”
She married an “out-of-the-box thinker” who “steered himself with a certainty I found astounding.” On the other hand, he had influences such as Valerie Jarrett, deputy chief of staff to Chicago mayor Harold Washington. “Valerie was the right person to address any concerns,” Michelle writes. “Valerie was like a fast-moving comet and clearly going places.” Jarrett went on to great power in the White House, a de-facto first lady on policy issues.
Valerie spent her childhood in Iran, “where her father had been a doctor at a hospital.” Michelle does not divulge that Valerie’s father, James Bowman, and her father-in-law Vernon Jarrett were both Communists and associates of Frank Marshall Davis, the beloved “Frank” of Dreams from My Father. Frank does not appear in Becoming, so the racially conscious Michelle missed an opportunity to explain the devotion of a black American to all-white Communist dictatorships.
In 2008, Michelle recalls, Christopher Hitchens said of her senior college thesis, that “to describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be ‘read’ at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn’t written in any known language.” Michelle was fond of black radicals like Stokely Carmichael but she wasn’t much of a writer.
About halfway through Becoming, readers meet David Axelrod, who would “lead the messaging and media for Barack.” Michelle fails to recall that the New York Times dubbed Axelrod “Obama’s narrator” and his fingerprints are all over this account. In his 2015 Believer, Axelrod explains that he left journalism because he liked to tell stories. He described Obama, who had no record of publication, as a fantastic writer with the skill of an historical novelist.
Michelle writes that her husband “spent the first 20 years of his life going by the nickname Barry,” but “somewhere along the way, though, he’d stepped into the fullness of his birth name—Barack Hussein Obama.” Michelle does not note that, in all his writings from 1958 to 1964, the Kenyan Barack Obama mentions nothing about an American wife and Hawaiian-born son.
Later on, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright “was known as a sensational preacher with a passion for social justice.” No word about Wright’s pal Louis Farrakhan or the suppressed 2005 photo of her husband with the Nation of Islam boss.
Michelle says her husband was “the right person for this moment in history,” but what about Michelle her own self? “I have no intention of running for office, ever,” she claims. But maybe her husband and Democrat bosses intend to tap her as the right person for 2020. In politics, one should never believe anything until it has been officially denied.
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