Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dr. Goatherd

I've been reading Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams From My Father, for the past couple of weeks. Reading isn't quite the right word, savoring is more like it. There is a love of language revealed in his writing that is unusual for a politician. He offers a poetic turn of phrase and mind. An alchemy of words.

This morning, reading the local paper, there was column on the editorial page by Maureen Dowd from the New York Times. A couple of paragraphs in, she mentions that Obama's father was "a Kenyan goatherd". It's true, he was a goatherd when he was young, but his life didn't end there. It seems weird to present it as if it did, as if he didn't go on to get a doctorate from Harvard. But his life didn't end there either. He died a drunk and unhappy man.

I don't know why the goatherd comment bothers me so much. It feels like a half-truth. Selective information. Like saying George Clooney is a tobacco-picker.


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