A professionally shot video of Barack Obama from 1995 has recently surfaced. Shot at the Cambridge, Mass. Public Library, the video captures a skinny, youthful Obama promoting his then newly released memoir, Dreams from My Father.
In this hour-long presentation, Obama openly talks about his relationship with his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist and pornographer. Perhaps more importantly, Obama gives us a much clearer picture of who he was in 1995, on the cusp of his political career, than we had seen before.
The Obama of 1995 was not a firebrand, at least not on the surface. He presented himself to the small, roughly half-black Cambridge audience as an optimistic, easy-going liberal. In the question-and-answer session, he distinguished himself from the more obviously angry black professor Cornel West. “Cornel West has to go back to his Bible. Got to have faith,” said Obama in a black accent almost as cringe-inducing as the one Hillary rolls out on occasion. In fact, Obama turned that accent on throughout the presentation, especially when answering questions from black women.
Obama’s allusion to the Bible was purely metaphoric. He made no reference to his much bruited Christian faith. He made no reference to Islam, either. Despite his concession that white Americans were “basically decent,” Obama did not think they were “making a serious effort” to compensate for the “brutal experience” of black history. That “was going to cost some money,” and, according to Obama, “Americans don’t like to sacrifice.”
Obama made the supersized claim that “American culture at this point, what is truly American, is black culture to a large degree.” As evidence, he cited Pulp Fiction, a pop-art gangster movie with a surfer music sound track and an Italian-American director...
Obama did not write Dreams unaided. In listening to Obama speak, one could not help but note the stark difference between the eloquence of the words he read and the tortured syntax of the words he spoke. Sentences like “Most black folks always have an open hand to individual whites” were not unusual in his talk.
What is more, in answering a question on how he organized his writing, Obama could not quite get his story straight. He never can. In this retelling, he initially planned to write an academic treatise on racial issues, but at some point he shifted instead to a family history.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
UNEARTHED: A 1995 Video of a Youthful Obama Speech at Harvard
Jack Cashill writes:
at 1:32 PM