UM, YOU TOLD ME BARACK OBAMA WAS A STRANGE AND EXOTIC GUY AMERICANS COULDN'T RELATE TO
This morning, Mike Allen at Politico's Playbook helped kick off the de-embargoing of David Maraniss's still-unpublished Barack Obama biography, by quoting from a review in The Washingtonian:
"Maraniss's Obama is sympathetic, and in contrast to his exotic background, he emerges as a normal, well-adjusted guy. At Occidental, 'Barry''s Mick Jagger impression was legendary, and as a teen at Honolulu's Punahou School, he was known for snagging joints from his buddies' hands and shouting 'Intercepted!' before taking an extra hit...."
BuzzFeed followed up with extended marijuana-related excerpts from the book, under the title "A User's Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama."
Obama's a guy from my generation (he's two years younger), and what strikes me about the Politico quote is, yes, the fact that Obama just sounds so normal. Hey, I used to do Jagger impressions, too. And that "Intercepted!" thing sounds like every kid anywhere. And it's a football allusion! American football, not soccer or some other socialist sport!
Obama and his friends had favorite hangout spots. They gave a name to one particular friend's reliable ride. They invented rituals that became an in-group language. This is so normal -- and it matters because it cuts against the bizarre portrait the right paints of Obama as a red diaper baby/communist agent-in-training/madrassa-bred stranger to American cultural norms. Trust me -- if you lurk on the right, the picture of young Barack Obama is of a kid in a treasonous hothouse being secretly bred to grow up and destroy America. And really, he was just a typical American kid of his generation.