COMMENTARY | This is not another tiresome treatise on Barack Obama's birth certificate. He was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen.
Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner about a new biography of the president soon to be published by David Mariness, a Washington Post reporter. York describes a brief time in the early 1980s when the future president lived in New York after graduating from Columbia University. Obama at the time was questioning whether he was an American in the way he viewed the world and followed politics.
The sense of Obama's rootlessness with his own country is perhaps understandable, given his biography. He was born of a Kenyan father and an American mother and had spent part of his childhood in Indonesia where he had become absorbed in the local culture.
But the ambivalence Obama felt and might still well feel toward his American identify also seems to have informed his politics. In a now infamous speech in Strasbourg, France, Obama seemed to lecture his own country by accusing it of having "shown arrogance" toward the views of other countries, particularly in Europe, according to the U.K. Telegraph. As Austin Bay adds, Obama also was dismissive of American exceptionalism, stating, rather sarcastically, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
It could be argued America had shown arrogance when it saved Europe in two world wars and the Cold War from tyranny. America has been exceptional in its democracy, its love of free markets, its regard for individual worth and its technological triumphs such as the moon landings.
It probably can be said with safe assurance that none of the previous 43 presidents had any struggle over their American identify, except for some of the earlier ones who had to fight in a revolution to be an American. Obama's ambivalence over his American identity might well inform the skepticism many feel toward him. The image of Obama as "the other" is not, as many liberals believe, caused by racist bigotry toward the black president with the funny name. It is a reaction to Obama's own attitude toward himself.