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Obama’s ‘Singular’ Mother

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Posted on May 12, 2011

By Ann Gerhart

This review is from a syndication service of The Washington Post.

The key to understanding the disciplined and often impassive 44th president is his mother, as Janny Scott, a reporter for the New York Times, decisively demonstrates in her new biography, “A Singular Woman.”

The solicitousness that can anger liberals, the deliberativeness that can infuriate conservatives, the unusual belief in both empirical research and human goodness, the wicked cutting humor—all of it comes from a woman who defied conventions.

A bookish outsider and only child, Ann Dunham was plunked down in Hawaii the year after it became a state by her restless father and her resolute mother. In her first months as a college freshman, at 17 years old, she got pregnant by her first boyfriend, an older student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama, who left her when the baby was 11 months old. Twice she married men from different cultures and races, then divorced them. With the help of her parents, she raised two biracial children as a single mother on the Pacific islands of two nations, got degrees in math and anthropology, spent years in peasant villages studying Javanese cottage industries, and pieced together grants and development work to make money and provide for her children’s education. Colleagues credit her with helping pioneer microcredit as a tool for lifting women out of poverty.

Through Scott’s meticulous reporting, archival research and extensive interviews with Dunham’s colleagues, friends and family, including the president and his sister, a portrait emerges of a woman who is both disciplined and disorganized, blunt-spoken and empathetic, driven and devoted to her children, even as she ruefully admits her failings and frets over her distance from them.

 

book cover

 

A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother

 

By Janny Scott

  

Riverhead Hardcover, 384 pages

 

Buy the book

“She was a very strong person in her own way,” the president told Scott, “able to bounce back from setbacks, persistent—the fact that she ended up finishing her dissertation. But despite all those strengths, she was not a well-organized person. And that disorganization, you know, spilled over.” He said she took too much for granted that everything would just work out, and that had it not been for his grandparents “there to provide that floor, I think our young lives could have been much more chaotic than they were.”

The same global perspective that lent Barack an Indonesian calm and an outsider’s curiosity also led him to seek a more traditional family life. And so he chose Michelle Robinson, a woman who had returned home to the South Side of Chicago after Princeton and Harvard. Ann Dunham said of Michelle, in a letter to a friend, “She is intelligent, very tall (6’1”), not beautiful but quite attractive.” She noted her Ivy League degrees and added: “But she has spent most of her life in Chicago” and was “a little provincial and not as international as Barry,” as the young Barack was known.

“She felt a little bit wistful or sad that Barack had essentially moved to Chicago and chosen to take on a really strongly identified black identity,” recalled Don Johnston, Dunham’s colleague at Bank Rakyat Indonesia. That identity, she felt, “had not really been part of who he was when he was growing up.” Dunham thought he was making what Johnston called “a professional choice” to strongly identify as black. “It would be too strong to say that she felt rejection,” he said. But she felt “that he was distancing himself from her.”

As Dunham’s uncle Charles Payne takes pains to tell Scott, family history is recalled in fragments, reassembled and turned this way and that, distorted and reimagined, depending on the narrator. He offers examples, then looks at her evenly:

“All of this is just to tell you: Don’t trust memory.”

Better, instead, to follow the guidance of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro, who always instructed her young research assistants, and her children, to emphasize “accuracy, rigor, patience, fairness, and not judging by appearances. “ ‘Don’t conclude before you understand,’ ” a friend from the Ford Foundation recalled her saying. “ ‘After you understand, don’t judge.’ ”

Ann Gerhart, an editor at The Washington Post, is the author of “The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush.”

(c) 2011, Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group


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By John Poole, October 30, 2011 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

to drbhelthi:  Why the combative and insulting stance?  John Poole is my name not
an alias. Look me up at wyncoteacademy.org faculty.  Did I insult you by not
immediately becoming a believer?  Rancor rarely leads to enlightenment. You
shouldn’t be frustrated that a total stranger doesn’t agree with you and not even
know who you are. You could be some crackhead, pissed off loser. Do you have
your own blog site? How would I know about your career and present activities?
Big War will somehow find a way to stay holding the reigns of mayhem regarding
who runs or wins in 2012 so I think our exchange is moot.  It seems humans are
headed towards flaring this orb and the only comfort I can muster is knowing the
singe factor will be insignificant considering the scope of the cosmos.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, October 30, 2011 at 1:15 am Link to this comment

“@drbhelthi   Quite a Manchurian Candidate scenario you posit.  I would enjoy
debating you about your conspiratorial theories but am reluctant to converse with
aliases. ”  John Poole

Your summary sentences reflect your naivete.  Perhaps even stupidity, considering the information about “B. H. Obama” that has been available since his having been inserted into the Chicago mob position, which led to his insertion in the senate, which led to his insertion into the “POTUS slot.”
 
Comprehending the information at the links I provided removes your classification of
“conspiraratorial theories”.  Since the term, “Conspiracy Theory” was introduced by CIA and
related shills as a means of disqualifying accurate information, the underlying suggestion is that you are one of “them”. 

How a debate could take place, considering your ignorance and denial of factual history, is in itself a conundrum. 

As far as aliases are concerned, “John Poole” is not an alias?  And how have you established that Bernard Gottfried Helthi is not my name, and I am not a doctor ?

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By John Poole, October 29, 2011 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To wrldtrvir:  A partial definition of manhood for me would be using one’s real
name when posting attacks. Let’s just say we disagree. You may be an Obama
dead ender for all I know. If not, I apologize.  I admit to being fooled by Obama -
again another aspect of being a man.

Report this

By John Poole, October 29, 2011 at 7:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@drbhelthi   Quite a Manchurian Candidate scenario you posit. I would enjoy
debating you about your conspiratorial theories but am reluctant to converse with
aliases. I think is wrong to not use one’s name in all postings. Unless you worry
that your job would be in jeopardy I don’t see the justification.  If things are as
dark and nefarious as they might be we shouldn’t “play it safe” by thinking we can
somehow derail the empire’s plans by staying in the shadows with anonymity.
  I felt there would be no national election in 2008 and was laughed at by many of
my friends for I sensed that the empire types would not pass on a baton to anyone
who wouldn’t take up the next leg of the race and Obama seemed like he wasn’t
part of the hegemonic plan.  I was completely fooled by Obama. The baton of
empire was nicely palmed by Obama and he’s moving down the track at a better
pace than his predecessors. Thanks for your input.

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By wrldtrvlr, October 29, 2011 at 5:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Quoting John Poole: “I see Obama as a clear momma’s
boy. He has no defining manliness except that
which women define for him. I guess I have to blame his
mother although I think
she was clueless about raising a male”.

I’m thinking, based on your statement, that you are
probably speaking of what you know of your own mother,
the mother with whom you are most familiar. It does
appear you are a meek excuse for a man, and/or does not
understand the meaning of being a man.

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By drbhelthi, October 29, 2011 at 1:49 am Link to this comment

@ John Poole
. . . twould be nice if it were so simple.

When one reviews the affiliation of Ann Dunham with the CIA & Ford Foundation, within the
perspective provided by the Reese Commission of the U.S. Congress, 1954, one views the source of her social values, acquired as she aged into adulthood. Also, the social values of her son.

The coordination of subterfuge and original-records-falsification, by the C.I.A. and Ford Foundation, required for associating Ann Dunham´s son with the name of Barack H. Obama, was quite a feat.  Combining that information with the production of two falsified birth certificates, more recently, denote the type of influence under which Ann Dunham aged into adulthood.  The same influence applies to her son, a Brit born in Kenya, who has used the name, Barack H. Obama, since having been overtaken by the C.I.A. at the age of eighteen.  http://wn.com/JOHN_AND_THE_CIA  click no. 6.

Two underlying facts in this mess are to me distressing.  As factually revealed by the Dodd Report of the Reese Committee, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Carnegie Endowment were / are preparing the U.S.A. to enable merge with the Soviet Union. Thus, the current U.S.A. debacle(s) and the destruction of the 3rd world countries.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upH_Iei7_A4
The history of John D. Rockefeller Senior´s early oil discoveries reveals the hidden secret behind the emergence of the Soviet Union as a dictatorship.  The genuine history of the C.I.A. reveals that it was established as the furtive tool of the Hitler entourage, the H.Q. of which was transferred from Berlin to D.C. and cities south and west, by “Operation Paper Clip” 1945, follow-ons, and other similar secret operations. Thus, both sides of parentage of Ann Dunham, Ann Dunham, and Ann Dunham´s son have been misused as implements, or tools, or puppets.  All assisted to fulfill the intent of the named “tax-exempt Foundation” frauds, to alter the U.S.A. into a dictatorship, that can be merged with the Soviet Union.  Thus, the two major political parties are separate in name only, highlighting the influence of the G.H.W.BushSr entourage. 
The Patriot Act enabled the Nazification of the U.S.A., and Barack H. Obama has accelerated it. 
http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/the-traitorous-bush-family/the-bush—-nazi connection.html

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By John Poole, October 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see Obama as a clear momma’s boy. He has no defining manliness except that
which women define for him. I guess I have to blame his mother although I think
she was clueless about raising a male.

Report this

By dr wu, May 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Forget Obama—he’s not really there when you need him. What we need is 50,000 activists to occupy Wall Street—use Facebook to get it together—the media will love you for it.

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By Carol Dijkhuyzen, May 15, 2011 at 12:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This great Lady Mrs.Ann Dunham Obama,has championed the cause of volunteerism in her days and the cause of micro financing.She had helped a lot of poor eople in asian countries.Asian Americans will reelect President Obama in 2012,you betcha and Iam one of them.Thank you for our President Obama,You have made your marks..Salute!

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By drbhelthi, May 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

“drbhelthi: - - And spare me your biased paperwork. A better question is, why are trolling here on TD posting this crap?” virginia777

First of all, I have seen no evidence that you are an editor of Truthdig blogs.  Truthdig is available to registered and non-registered commenters.

Truthdig is an excellent medium for presenting not only emotionally-laden blogs, but also accurate, documented information.  Accurate, documented information places the New World Order propaganda of the current USGOV administration in better perspective, for “truthseekers.”  Whose numbers seem to be increasing.
 
Also, the effect of valid information on Truthdig tends to call out the New World Order shills, who vehemently attack accurate information, often mislabeling it “jewish hate,” sometimes “trolling.”  Especially, those misguided persons who drive a computer in a cubicle in an AIPAC or USGOV office, whose minds are programmed to believe they are doing the world a good deed each time they refute honesty and accurate information.  For example, your venomous response.

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By Virginia777, May 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

prisnersdilema:

“Essentially, making his first term in office equivalent to a third term by W.”

That is inaccurate.

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By Virginia777, May 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment

drbhelthi:

“A very neat picture, as pictures go. Perhaps a better title would be, “Obama´s Single Mother”. The child would have been about 3 yrs of age, placing her at about 17, per information acquired from pertinent documents.  Documents resulting from investigative-type journalism, within the Negroid community.”

The Negroid community???

And spare me your biased paperwork. A better question is, why are trolling here on TD posting this crap?

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By Virginia777, May 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

Mack:

“Virnia777, you seem to be a person with a head filled with gelatin.  Maybe something like agar with a few colony growths, thriving in that wastelnd. I can see how you could use a drink.”

I seem like a person whose head is filled with gelatin???

I am not the one with the blender making the vanilla flavored kumquat shakes!

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By wrldtrvlr, May 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The bottom line is that being a man of color, an
intelligent man of color that does not fit the
stereotypes generated by the bigoted American mind,
such Americans are not satisfied with just vilifying
Obama, they must vilify the mother who bore him also. 
Being uncomfortable that Obama is performing better
than most presidents of the past under far more
difficult circumstances, bigots must tear him down. 
I give the Republicans credit for their honesty in
acknowledging upon his election that their goal was
to make him fail.  It’s just so tragic that they are
willing to destroy the country in order to accomplish
their goal.

Report this

By Vincent G Thomas, May 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is admired by more people around the world than any President prior to him. This is because there are more people of color than those without.
It is sad to note that so many still expect much more from Obama in less than three years, than they expected from his predecessors. His record and influence throughout the world is underplayed by the corporate media.
In an atmosphere that has wanted to undo the New Deal ( which saved us) ever since the Nixon era, Obama, and a few stalwart Democrats, know saving us from the “free marketers” and corporate rulers cannot be achieved without compromise. Do most of us want to change the system entirely? Try to understand what is happening around the world as a result of the change we brought to our country.Some factions may dislike us, but most people around the world for the first time since Eisenhower and Kennedy are not anti-America. This includes China and India the most number of people in the world. Obama would like to extricate us from the wars. How does he achieve that goal with upsetting the purveyors of war?

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By gerard, May 14, 2011 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

By bringing up “cultural absolutism” I was hoping to tease out some recognition of the every-day-illustrated fact that most “Americans” regard “American values” (whatever that means to them personally) as absolutely virtuous—with a few rare exceptions that can easily be forgiven because “we meant well.”

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By drbhelthi, May 14, 2011 at 3:33 am Link to this comment

A very neat picture, as pictures go.
Perhaps a better title would be, “Obama´s Single Mother”.
The child would have been about 3 yrs of age, placing her at about 17,
per information acquired from pertinent documents.  Documents
resulting from investigative-type journalism, within the Negroid
community.  Which contrast the information presented in the carefully-
worded article.  Yes, she was quite different, as are most only-child,
spoiled brats, regardless of gender and parentage.

Remembrances from early childhood sometimes contain a bit of accuracy.
When called up at the age of 50 by a politician seeking re-election -
who attempts to improve his PR - perhaps still a bit of accuracy is
present.  Perhaps.  A picture and description of a loving Mamma hits
close to the heart of all.  Especially folk who do not recognize
canned propaganda.  Especially so, when such memories are presented by
a person who can view murder scenes by the S.E.A.L. allegedly in
Pakistan, on a TV screen that is displaying only grey static – no
pictures of any kind.

“prisnersdilema”  is much too gentle in the presentation of “growing
up without a father.” Numerous books and case studies provide detailed
details.  When the NAZI element of the CIA becomes ones father, at the
age of nineteen, only distortion, fraud and evil, with redundant
presentations of falsified birth certificates, are the predicted
outcome.  Which fraud, Americans are wising up to, rather swiftly, who
recognize increasingly, that,  “what you do speaks so loud, I can not
hear what you say – “.

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By prisnersdilema, May 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

I would define betrayal as continuing the same policy’s as W., appointing Goldman
Sacks to run the treasury department,  taking it in the butt from BP, and giving the
insurance industry a big payday. Basically betraying the people in favor of the
plutocracy. Essentially, making his first term in office equivalent to a third term by W.

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By prisnersdilema, May 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment

Marvin Harris would be rolling in his grave.. On this one.. Please read what I wrote
instead of projecting what you think of me..

I never said anything about cultural absolutism, what I said was cultural relativism.

The truth should never be a thing of fashion, nor should science, or the judgment of
scientists equated with the wishful thinking of those that find it’s methods unsupportive of
their daydreams.

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By Virginia777, May 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

Mack:

“Ann Dunham might have stood out of the ordinary with regards to American brainwashed students of the 50s.  But as it turned out she was just another vanilla flavored kumquat on order from the Ford Foundation’s global search for likely candidates.”

I’ll take a vanilla flavored kumquat shake, Mack.

Your blender, mixed-up logic, means you serve good ones.

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By gerard, May 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

Actually, I still request that prisonersdilema define “cultural absolutism.”

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By wrldtrvlr, May 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cultural relativism is an anthropological approach
which contends that all cultures are of equal value
and need to be studied from a neutral point of view.
The study of a and/or any culture has to be done with
a neutral and unbiased perspective so that a
particular culture can be understood on its own
merits and not another culture’s merits.  IOW, every
culture thinks there’s is the best because that is
the culture that shaped them, what they know best,
and that is their basis for referencing the world.

For example, many people think it is criminal that
the Chinese dictates how many children a couple may
have. China, the most populous country with a land
mass far less than that of the U.S. and a population
multiple times that of the U.S. should be seen as
being proactive in caring for their population,
considering the available resources to sustain the
population, as how can they feed the world’s most
populous nation with the limited land resources
without some form of population control?  Would it be
more humanitarian to let the population expand out of
control and let people starve to death?  Even some
animals have methods of aborting themselves during a
drought in consideration of the very real possibility
of starvation to the unborn and current offspring.

All other things being equal, Can a parent with 12
children in a 3 bedroom house behave the same as
parents with 2 children in a 3 bedroom house??

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By gerard, May 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

prisonersdilema:  ... “Anthropology and other graduate” degrees sounds formidable. I’m almost afraid to ask—but—what is a “cultural absolutist” and is it a good thing?  If so, why?

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By wrldtrvlr, May 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ignorance is bliss.  prisnersdilema mentions “Many
thousands of gulf residents, mortgage holders, along
wit those he betrayed on health care.”  She/he seems
ignorant to the fact, or simply chooses to
conveniently forget that the mortgage crises occurred
under President Bush; that the bailout of the banks
was initiated under President Bush; that millions did
not have ANY healthcare at all before Obama passed
the nations very first universal health care plan,
though imperfect, definitely more than the U.S.
(supposedly the greatest nation in the world) has
ever had before.  It’s awfully strange to me that
she/he speaks of betrayal in terms of Obama, when the
republicans are choosing to sell out Medicare, Social
Security, and American education to cut the budget,
while refusing to cut tax loopholes benefitting big
oil worth trillions of $$. prisnersdilema, with
supposed many graduate degrees, how do you define
betrayal??????

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By prisnersdilema, May 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Yes many will support Obama simply because of what he is, but he stands for nothing.

Many thousands of gulf residents, mortgage holders, along wit those he betrayed on
health care. These are observations, not judgements. As a holder of degrees in
Anthropology, and other graduate degrees as well I am well aware of the import of his
mothers words and where they led young Barak.

His mothers words are spoken like a true cultural relativist.

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By wrldtrvlr, May 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

prisnersdilema’s shade tree psychology above is mightly flawed.  Obama had a father figure in his grandfather who was present in his life more often than most of our genrals and military men have been present in their children’s lives. “Most” military families are raised in a one parent, female headed household without the presence of 2 parents as Obama had in his grandmother, grandfather, and mother. He had the support of an extended family.  I, hoever am in agreement that the Democrats have not behaved with much of a backbone, but remember that the president
can’t pass bills on his own, he has to wade through the crap of Congress.  Let’s hope he, and the Democrats have enough backbone to stave off
Republican threats to destroy Medicare, American
education, Social Security while the very same Republicans demand continuing tax breaks for big oil.

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By DBtv, May 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

@prisnorofyourwillfulignorance

Your completely inaccurate characterization of The President illuminates your transparent agenda.

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By gerard, May 13, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

prisonersdilema:  Nothing like a few gross negative generalizations to trash positive qualities.

Good advice in the last line of the review, taken from Obama’s mother:  ‘Don’t conclude before you understand,’ ... ‘After you understand, don’t judge.’

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