The Autobiographical President.


Apparently, Mississippi governor -- and presidential contender -- Haley Barbour sees President Obama as a fundamentally mysterious and unquantified person:

Barbour was asked by a reporter whether the Pew poll showed there was a coordinated misinformation campaign on the subject of religion by Oabama’s critics. "I don't know why people think what they think. This is a president that we know less about than any other president in history,” Barbour said. “But I have no idea why. I accept just totally at face value that he is a Christian. He said so throughout the time he has been in public life. That's good enough for me. Do I think there is a vast right-wing conspiracy? No ma'am."

This is blindingly stupid. Taken alone, Obama's two autobiographical books -- Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope -- contain a wealth of information about Obama's life, from childhood onward. Barbour claims that there isn't much "known about his time in college," but Obama devotes a large chunk of his first book to his time at Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School. He has written candidly about his high school drug use, and overall, his personal journey has been the centerpiece of every political campaign he's ever run. Not inclined to believe Obama's telling of his story? New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote an excellent biography of Obama that deals with every major event in the president's life, leading up to the 2008 presidential election.

Haley Barbour hasn't read Obama's books, but my guess is that he probably knows this. Like Mitch McConnell's declaration that he'll take Obama "at his word" with regard to his religious beliefs, Barbour's apparent cluelessness about Obama's life is meant to suggest something shadowy and foreign about the president. Barbour's allies in the Republican base will listen, and understand.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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