Obama’s missing friends and neighbors

It’s been months since the election, but something still bugs me.  I live in, and have lived in, multiple communities:  Elementary school, junior high school, high school, college, law school, year in England, my legal career (and friendships), my neighborhood, and my community from a parenting perspective.  I’m a gregarious type, so lots of people know me from each era but, even if I weren’t so outgoing, a few people would know me from each of those times in my life.

What I’m still struggling with is the fact that, despite a similar path to mine (schools, professional affiliations, neighborhood and parenting community), no one has ever come forward to tells stories, good or bad, about Obama. It’s as if, in each environment, he didn’t exist.  He made no friends, he made no enemies, he left no memories.

How can someone be such a nonentity, and then suddenly burst on the political scene as the essence of charisma?  People are what they are.  They’re shy or outgoing or down to earth or fun-loving.  But this is a man who switched from cipher to cynosure in a matter of months.  I cannot figure this out, and would be delighted if someone could explain to me the missing people from Obama’s past, as well as his apparent transformation from putz to prince.

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  • http://betterangels.typepad.com Ronald Hayden

    I’ve seen interviews with people who waxed rhapsodic about their experiences with Obama as a (failed) community organizer, so there are at least some normal “people on the street” who remember him.

    But not much beyond that…going by Freddoso’s biography, he mostly figured out ways to have the next advancement handed to him on a platter and laid low knowing the fix was in. Which, by the way, is fine; it’s just another way to advance in politics (though I admit to having qualms with winning an election by kicking everyone else off the ballot).

    Given his approach, it would seem there were no memorable table pounding moments where he had to persuade those around him to action, so there isn’t much for anyone else to remember about him. I suppose the reason there are people from his organizer days is because he actually *did* do some table pounding and influencing there. But I suspect with that failure he decided that wasn’t his forte and he looked for a different route.

  • johnfromcolumbus

    Perhaps he flew under the radar due to his ability to speak vague words that everyone can nod their head to yet lack the ability to stick in someone’s memory cause they are as filling and satisfying as a rice cake.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I suggest that he is the ultimate chameleon who blends into circumstances and situations rather than defining the situations (I also propose that from the people that define situations that memories of those situations are forged). This was his record in the Illinois Senate – he left no mark other than a plethora of votes marking his being “present”. I really don’t believe that Obama is driving this agenda. Rather, I believe that he is the front man for people such as Rahm Emanuel, George Soros and others that are really driving the agenda…one inimical to the interests of our country.

  • http://betterangels.typepad.com Ronald Hayden

    I dunno, I suspect he is in charge of the agenda. This was his endpoint, and now that he’s here, I don’t see anything to indicate he’s not in charge. Especially since the actions he takes reflect what few actions he has taken in the past — that is, after expressing a moderate well-rounded approach, actual decisions almost always take the left-most possible route.

    Though, of course we must keep in mind those areas where he hasn’t taken that course — in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to some degree (believe it or not) with the banks. His hardcore followers are pissed that he hasn’t simply nationalized the banks outright and perceive his current course of action as a giveaway to his administrations big-banking friends.

    A bizarre way to look at the banking bailouts, to be sure, but it’s true that he didn’t go totally Cultural Revolution on their asses.

    I don’t give him much credit there, while I do give him credit for doing what has to be done in Afghanistan and for not doing a wholesale pull out from Iraq.

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    Maybe he sprang – fully-grown – from the head of Zeus.

  • Danny Lemieux

    You mean….like snot?

  • Marguerite

    Danny – I am sitting her laughing so hard I can hardly type. I sent your response to Helen’s input to my kids who will appreciate your humor . . . wish I had half your quick wit.


    Book posed a good question not to mention the perfect title for a book (Putz to Prince).
    What I gathered from the responses is that…

    He is a chameleon, who is as satisfying as a rice cake with snot.

    Maybe the reason we have not heard a word from a friend, a classmate, a former girlfriend is that they never really existed for him. He may have been one of those aloof and alone types and anyone who can speak for him ‘have officially shut up’ or are bidding their time until a good book deal comes along.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    My sense is that he may be one of those individuals who are only interested in those people who can be of obvious practical assistance to them….so, if you were a neighbor and he didn’t see any way you could be of use to him, he wouldn’t have much to do with you. If you *were* an obviously valuable resource, OTOH, he’s turn on the charm.

    May be unfair–but there are certainly quite a few people who fit this profile, and many of them surely gravitate to politics.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    “only interested in those peope who can be of obvious practical assistance to HIM”