Barack, We Hardly Knew Ye–And That's the Problem!

Barack, We Hardly Knew Ye–And That's the Problem!

If President Obama has taught us nothing else, he has reminded us of the old wisdom: Character is destiny. That is, you will become what you are.

One who has a special insight into Obama’s youthful character is Wayne Allyn Root.  He is the same age as Obama, and they graduated from the same university.  And so while much of what he of what he asserts can’t be proven, it’s a darn persuasive hypothesis.  

Root grew up in suburban New York as a Republican, then moved to Nevada and for a few years  became a member of the Libertarian Party (LP).   He was actually the LP vice presidential candidate in 2008.   But Root has recently rejoined the GOP; the biggest single reason for his return, he told Breitbart News in an interview, was the LP’s laissez-faire stance on border security.  Once again a Republican, Root says that we need a foolproof fence, not just to deal with illegals coming from Mexico and Central and South America, but also to stop would-be terrorists from Muslim countries. 

Yes, we might observe, the LP is hard-pressed to explain its continued support for open borders in a dangerous world.  Does the LP really think that a flood of new Americans would continue to support libertarian policies?  Isn’t it more likely that we would be importing the politics of Mexico–or Venezuela?  

Root has a new book, The Murder of the Middle Class: How to Save Yourself and Your Family from the Criminal Conspiracy of the Century, which offers both an effective critique and a powerful manifesto.  It’s an effective critique of big government and its handmaiden, crony capitalism, and it’s a powerful manifesto on behalf of the Constitution and limited government.    

In addition, we watch as Root’s theatrical imagination takes flight: He declares that the middle class has been “murdered,” then walks us through the “evidence,” the “crime scene,” the “motive,” and the “murder weapon.”  And of course, he identifies the “chief suspect,”and the “accomplices.”  It’s a scenario that’s amusing, disturbing, and compelling–all at once.   

Yet perhaps the most interesting part of the book is Root’s analysis of Obama–where he came from, and who he is.     

Root, born in 1961, is just a few weeks older than Obama, and, in fact, they both graduated, in 1983, from Columbia University.    

So Root has a good understanding of Obama, albeit not in the way you might think.   Root never, in fact, met Obama in school.  And that’s what’s so interesting.   As in the Sherlock Holmes story, Silver Blaze, it’s not the dog barking in the night that reveals the truth, it’s fact that the dog did not bark.   

As Root says, “I was very active at Columbia, and I thought I knew everyone in poly sci and pre-law.  But not only did I not know Barack Obama, I never heard of him.”   And that is rather remarkable: To spend any time with Root is to know that he has an outgoing, voluble, even boisterous, personality.   He is the ultimate people person: It’s easy to see that he would get around a lot on campus.   And yet he never knew, or knew of, Obama. 

Root doesn’t claim that Obama was not a student at Columbia, but he says that his low profile there is a mystery that deserves to be unraveled.  Why?  Because, he says, Obama’s record at Columbia eerily anticipates his record as President.    So in pulling out these clues, Root declares, “We can see him as the Manchurian Candidate.”  “Or maybe,” he adds slyly, “the Manchurian Machiavellian.”   

So what’s the Obama story at Columbia?  The official record is astonishingly thin, because Obama has refused to release any of his grades or academic records–and a supine MSM, of course, has never pushed to see them.    

Root’s answer comes in three parts: 

First, Obama was invisible because he simply wasn’t on campus very much.  So where was he?  Some have argued that he was into the drug scene, or more, but as Root sees it, he was more interested in far-left causes than in going to class.   And in fact, one of the few solid clues that we have about him in those years is  a 1983 essay that appeared under his name in a student magazine, entitled, “Breaking the War Mentality.”  That is, breaking the war mentality of the United States in the Reagan era: No good leftist would worry much about, say, the Soviet Union.   

So that was Obama the student, not interested in being a student.   Now let’s fast forward three decades: Obama the president doesn’t seem very interested in being the president.   

So score one for the Root Thesis.  

Second, Obama doesn’t talk about his record in college, Root asserts, because he doesn’t have a very good record to talk about.   That Obama was the beneficiary of affirmative action is beyond question, but Root wonders if he was accepted as a foreign student.  One can believe, as Root does, that Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii, and yet still allow for the possibility that he gained admission as a foreign student; after all, his mother moved him to Indonesia as a child, where he was adopted and renamed by his new Indonesian step-father.   So did Obama lie on his application to Columbia?  Or on his student-aid form?  Once again, we don’t know, but if he did fib, it’s suddenly easy to see why he would be so secretive about his student career.  And of course, in the White House, Obama has been more secretive than any previous president.   

So score two for the Root Thesis.  

Third, the attitude and tactics that Obama learned at Columbia helped him in his subsequent political career.  As Root recalls, the politics of the campus were so hard-left that in 1981, when the news that Ronald Reagan had been shot rippled through the campus, most of the students in Root’s classroom stood up and applauded.  Indeed, we can be sure that Obama wasn’t just a “progressive,” he was a part of the hard-left subculture that soon took him to Chicago as a “neighborhood organizer.”   

Columbia was, in fact, an east-coast outpost of Saul Alinsky-type thinking–and  Alinskyism is a major part, of course, of Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary, America: Imagine The World Without Her;  the major tenet of such lefty politics is that the world would be better off without America.  So here Root and D’Souza agree: In his bones, Obama views America as a mistake, or worse, and would be happy enough to see America disappear.  
And of course, now that Obama is in the White House, he has a chance to turn his America-death-wish into a reality–the evidence is all around us.   

Root’s book is a must-read.  The Murder of the Middle Class is written as energetically and punchily as the author talks, and it is filled with righteous indignation about what has happened to this country in the past few years.  

Yet most of all, Root’s book is a shrewd assessment of our 44th President, and a lesson for all of us: Nothing Obama is doing today should have come as a surprise to those who knew him 30 years ago.  But of course, few knew him 30 years ago.   And that was part of the problem.  If only we had known.