Two facts worth highlighting from Drew Westen’s controversial NY Times piece titled ‘What Happened to Obama’:
- Obama published nothing (except his autobiography) during his twelve years as a faculty member at the University of Chicago
- Before joining the Senate he voted ‘present’ (instead of ‘yea’ or ‘nay’) 130 times
What is one to make of this? I won’t speculate on Obama’s not publishing anything in an academic journal, but one thing presidential candidates are often attacked on is their voting record. During a heated political campaign a candidate’s previous legislative votes are scrutinized and picked over for any possible controversy (see John Kerry). As an astute observer of political history and campaigns, Barrack Obama would be well aware of this.
Was his voting ‘present’ strategy all about playing it safe and as Westen puts it “dodging difficult issues”? Or is there another explanation all together?
Perhaps those of us who were so enthralled with the magnificent story he told in “Dreams From My Father” appended a chapter at the end that wasn’t there — the chapter in which he resolves his identity and comes to know who he is and what he believes in.
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