American Elephants


Who Is President Barack Obama: The New Books. by The Elephant's Child

As the elections approach to determine whether or not Barack Obama gets a second term; more books about Obama are appearing, and the reviews proliferate. I have not yet read any of the books, but the reviews are interesting, here’s a roundup.

David Maraniss has written a generational story about Obama and his background, called simply Barack Obama: the Story. What appeared in the press about the book, were the not very startling revelations that not all the stories in Obama’s autobiography Dreams From My Father, were exactly true. Obama had taken some remarkable liberties with the facts. Many of his characters were composites or inventions. That doesn’t much bother Mr. Maraniss who is more upset about those who doubt the claims about Obama’s life that Obama finds to be true. His attack on Obama’s doubters does extend however, to those who do not find him a pragmatic liberal politician.

There have been a number of astonishing national security revelations recently, many of which came to light in two new books. The most notable reaction has been from prominent members of Congress demanding investigations into who leaked them.

New York Times reporter David E. Sanger’s Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and surprising Use of American Power describes in remarkable detail the Obama administration’s previously secret cyberwar campaign against Iran, the targeted drone strikes against Al Qaeda and affiliated  fighters, and any number of other covert operations including the one that killed Osama bin Laden. Sanger concludes that the biggest surprise of the Obama presidency is just how aggressive Obama has been with military power. Obama has apparently signed an executive order to give himself the authority to kill whoever is on his list.

The Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear establishment was rumored to be either from Israel or the US. Actual information was expected to be a military secret no matter who devised it. Obama’s use of drones to kill members of al Qaeda, their associates and families, and the details of just how he goes about it weren’t expected to become public knowledge. Obama is waging unacknowledged and undeclared war, according to Sanger, quite thoroughly. Senator Diane Feinstein was shocked by learning, as she said, more from one of the books than she did in her top oversight post on the intelligence committee. Leaks about the SEAL team, their mission and what they acquired from the Osama compound shocked the committee.

Longtime Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman’s new book Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency doesn’t suggest that the authors are particularly concerned, but does paint a disturbing picture of power stretched to new lengths in an environment, as the Huffington Post review states, where politics trumps principle. Public statements are wobbly about collateral deaths from drone strikes, but one investigation has documented the deaths of 482-849 Pakistani civilians including 175 children in drone strikes. Capture and question are seemingly off the table, as is the information that might be gained. And there have been errors in just who was to be eliminated.

Bestselling author Richard Miniter’s new book Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide For Himis available for pre-order, but the Daily Caller got a look at one chapter, which contains the revelation that “at the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011 Navy SEAL mission.” Obama has been pictured by his team as a decisive leader who took down America’s greatest enemy. Indecisive and reluctant to make any decision is a more apt description, according to Miniter, Valerie Jarrett makes the decisions.

Stanley Kurtz is a serious scholar and his meticulously researched new exposé due out August 2, is available for pre-order: Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. “Obama,” he says,” has been laying the regulatory groundwork for a profound transformation of American society…. In the eyes of Obama’s community organizing colleagues, America’s suburbs are instruments of bigotry and greed. Moving to a suburb in pursuit of the American dream of an affordable family home and quality, locally controlled schools looks to Obama and his organizing mentors like selfishly refusing to share tax money with the urban poor.”

“Obama means to fix that with regulations designed to force Americans out of their cars and into high-density urban centers, squeezing the population into a collection of new Manhattans.”

Barack Obama has been President of the United States for nearly four years, and we really don’t know much about who he is. The Obama of the 2008 election campaign was a creation for the media by David Axlerod, who wanted a different campaign for a different candidate, that made him seem to be inevitable for a 21st century America. We know by now that wasn’t the real Obama, but we also don’t know just who the real one is. Richard Epstein,professor of law at University of Chicago and  New York University,  who knew him in Chicago, said he imitates an intellectual, his ideas are fixed in concrete — he does not change his mind, and he has no respect for the separation of powers.

David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale says of his foreign policy:

Iran disdainfully snubs him, Russia snubs him, Europe ignores him, the Israelis can’t stand him, the world grows more dangerous by the hour. He did indeed take out Osama, and has moved aggressively to kill terrorists. But any other president would be deemed to have turned these victories into defeats by his tone-deaf campaigns afterward to squeeze out maximum political gain–as if he had killed Osama himself, bare-handed. The cost to US intelligence sources or the dignity of the office matters nothing, evidently, as the Obamiacs mash every last drop of juice out of the pulp. In fact this is a man to whom “cost” seems like a foreign concept, a word he has never learned.

If you wander around the web quite a bit, you can find all sorts of serious opinions about just who Barack Obama really is and why he does what he does.  There are of course those who hold wild opinions with no basis in fact, but there are many serious thinkers who have given long thought to their ideas. And they are all over the map. So, here you go. Study up, do your homework, here are the resources from serious, responsible authors.

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