Monday, August 11, 2014

The Audacity of Being Born: Barack Hussein Obama II

This guest post, written by my husband Manny, is the second in a series about the family backgrounds of prominent pro-choice figures and the psychology behind their politics. The original version appeared at


The name, alone, demands respect. Barack Hussein Obama II, though born in Honolulu, Hawaii, bears a name that could easily belong to a sheik or a sultan. The fact that this has been used against him by some conservative pundits and lesser educated Americans is lamentable but almost inevitable. Born August 4, 1961 and destined to become the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama would have the honor of being crowned with many ‘firsts’. He would become the first President to win the Nobel Peace Prize before being President, the first President born in Hawaii and the first African American President. (As an interesting aside, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while still in office in 1906 and Jimmy Carter after his tenure, in 2002.)

Among the many accusations levied against President Obama, perhaps one of the most pernicious has been to accuse him of being Muslim. Not only is it insulting to millions of Muslims worldwide to have their faith thrown about as an accusation, but it is simply inaccurate. In an interview with the evangelical periodical 'Christianity Today', Obama stated, “I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.” Furthermore, on September 27, 2010, Obama released a statement commenting on his religious views saying “I am Christian by choice. My family didn’t - frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn’t raise me in the church. So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead-being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me.” These statements ought to retire any lingering doubt about the sincerity of his beliefs, at least among thinking adults.

Back to the historical and psychological assessment of Barack Obama, which is for those wondering why I’ve written this, the primary purpose of this article and it is with this in mind that we will now take a bit of a journey into the past.

Obama’s parents met in 1960 in a Russian class at the University of Hawaii at Manao, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship. The couple married February 2, 1961, when Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham was only 18 years old. The couple soon began living apart from one another when, in late August 1961, Obama’s mother moved with her one-month-old son to attend the University of Washington in Seattle for one year. In the meantime, Obama Sr. completed his undergraduate economics degree in Hawaii in June 1962, and subsequently left to attend graduate school at Harvard University on scholarship. Obama’s parents divorced in March 1964, after only three years of marriage. Obama Sr. returned to Kenya in 1964 where he remarried, visiting Barack in Hawaii only once, in 1971. He died in an automobile accident in 1982 when his son was 21 years old.

Now, using simple arithmetic and the fact that humans take 9 months to go from fertilized egg to “It’s a boy!” I can say with a reasonable degree of medical certainty (sorry, that’s a legal term of art I picked up along the way after being married to a lawyer for fourteen years) that President Obama’s mother was pregnant out of wedlock, and that her marriage to Obama Sr. was, as they say, somewhat of a shotgun wedding. How can I make such a bold assertion simply by counting the months? Well, let’s look at the facts. Obama was born on August 4, 1961 and his parents married on February 2, 1961 placing the two events only six months apart. (ABC News agrees.)

Young, pregnant, and without a means of supporting herself, Obama's mother may seem like the poster child for Planned Parenthood’s justification for why abortion must be available without restriction. Yet, this young woman chose marriage and life, and nine months later her son Barack Hussein Obama II was born.

Though he bore the name of his father, the father-son relationship was simply not to be.  Obama Senior, as we’ve noted before, divorced his son’s mother after only three years of marriage, moved back to Kenya, and remarried. So, Barry, as Obama was called in his childhood, grew up without a father figure until he was four years old, at which time his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, remarried. Fortunately for Barack (or Barry), he then moved to Indonesia along with his mother to live out his early adolescent years in relative stability.

Obama’s early education offers us a remarkable glimpse into how our future President’s character was shaped and molded.  From the age six to ten, Obama attended Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic School for two years and Besuki Public School for one and a half years, supplemented by English-language Calvert School homeschooling by his mother.  By all accounts, Obama would go on to become a devoted husband and a dedicated father to two lovely young ladies.  Perhaps growing up with a half-sister, Maya (daughter of Stanley Ann and her second husband, Lolo Soetoro), and a nurturing father figure contributed towards his caring and at times paternalistic attitude towards women.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Obama has been quite upfront and forthright about using alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to “push questions out of my mind.”  He even admits being a member of the “choom gang”, a self-named group of friends that spent time together and occasionally smoked marijuana.

His openness and sincerity carry over to his candid description of his diverse and quite numerous relatives. In a 2006 interview, Obama stated proudly, “It’s like a mini-United Nations. I’ve got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I’ve got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher.” Obama also has one half sister (from his mother) and seven half siblings (from his Kenyan father’s family).

It is safe to say that his extended family, given its size, did not benefit from the frequent utilization of birth control or the panacea of ‘safe and legal abortion’.  It is also fortunate for those who voted for Obama, as well as those who praise his efforts to defend a woman’s right to choose abortion, that his own unwed teenage mother did not make such a choice.  As a final thought, I wonder if the pro-choice mantra of ‘every child a wanted child, every child a planned child’ would have left us without our 44th president?  Was he planned?  If we are to judge matters by the available facts, the answer seems to be most definitely not. Was he wanted?  Absolutely, he was not only wanted but worth radically redefining and altering the life of his eighteen-year-old mother.  Which raises doubt in my mind about wisdom of the pro-choice agenda and existence of the right to abortion which it claims resides somewhere in the Constitution's penumbra.

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  1. Well that was pretty insightful information about Mr. O. I didn't see it from that perspective before. I wish you could send that post to him, perhaps he would reconsider his views on abortion after reading it! It's very well-written and contains a lot of truth!

    1. The truth will set him free... ;) Thanks, Agnes!

  2. One correction: Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 9 October 2009, in his first year as president, not prior to his entering into office. And in addition to Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson was awarde the Peace Prize whilst in office.

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