Like everyone else, David Brooks is trying to figure out Barack Obama. But I think he made a small but significant error in his column today:
There is a sense that because of his unique background and temperament, Obama lives apart. He put one foot in the institutions he rose through on his journey but never fully engaged…
This has been a consistent pattern throughout his odyssey. His childhood was a peripatetic journey through Kansas, Indonesia, Hawaii and beyond. He absorbed things from those diverse places but was not fully of them.
The error is that Obama’s childhood journey did not take him through Kansas at all. Judging by his campaign statements and ads, it seems Obama would like you to think that it did, but he doesn’t actually say so. In an ad entitled “Country I Love” — the one in which he claimed to have passed laws moving people from welfare to work — Obama spoke of his mother and grandparents who “taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up.” But Obama wasn’t there himself. Indonesia, Hawaii, yes. Kansas, no.