October 24, 2008, - 10:46 am

“History” Gives Obama Hope: Dysfunctional Family, Absent Father, Controlling Mother Often Leads to . . . the White House?

By Debbie Schlussel
When I first wrote, back in 2006 about Barack Hussein Obama’s absentee Muslim father and how he desperately wanted to please him, I was mocked by liberals around the net and the media for it (and by some ignorant conservatives). I wrote:

So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father’s heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam?

But this was not pop psychology. It’s human nature. Not only was I right, but, now, historians agree with me.
Apparently, history favors an Obama history . . . but it’s not exactly the kind of history anyone yearns for. And his absentee Muslim father–who abandoned him and his mother–has a lot to do with it.


Wall Street Journal “Work & Family” columnist Sue Shellenbarger interviewed several authors, historians, and biographers of our nation’s Presidents. They say that the families that have produced American Presidents are dysfunctional, with eccentric, controlling mothers and absentee fathers.
Look at Bill Clinton. He’s Exhibit A, with a mother who chose abusive men and who, herself, was always the chief suspect in an Arkansas scandal involving a nurse (she was the suspected nurse) who euthanized her infirm and elderly patients.
Obama–well, he’s a different story. Also, father figure issues, but his mother was the opposite of controlling. She dumped him off at her parents and abandoned him for her own career aspirations. Imagine the issues he had from that.
The Kennedys–in Joseph Kennedy, JFK had a pro-Hitler, demanding father.
Poor John McCain. He had a relatively normal family and upbringing with two parents, which means the odds are–at least, in this case–against him, though the article tries to call John McCain’s father’s patriotic military service as “absenteeism” and compare it to Obama’s fathers total abandonment and irresponsibility (they are hardly the same):

The families that have produced U.S. presidents aren’t always great role models. In fact, they show a striking tendency to be deeply flawed. The childhoods of past presidents have been marked to an unusual degree by absent fathers, mothers so overinvolved that they could easily have been the original helicopter parents, and in some cases outright dysfunction, based on interviews with historians and family-history scholars and a review of presidential history books.
Childhood events that would destroy most children seem somehow to spark greatness in leaders-to-be, says Doug Wead, author of two books on presidents’ families. As two candidates with highly unusual family backgrounds vie for the presidency, Mr. Wead even sees Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama — to different degrees and in starkly different ways — fitting a pattern he describes as “Mama’s boys with absent fathers who were perceived by the sons as high achievers,” he says.
Sen. Barack Obama’s father, a failed, troubled Kenyan politician, separated from his mother when he was 2 years old. He saw his son for only a few weeks during his childhood and died when Sen. Obama was 21.
To be sure, analyzing family patterns from afar, through the veil of history, risks oversimplifying them. Many presidents’ families, including the parents of John Adams, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, serve as relatively positive examples. But in this era of parental perfectionism, studying the unusual ones can lend hope to parents that our children, too, can rise above our foibles and failings. Beyond any particular thing, Mr. Wead says, the key to success for past presidents was a harder-to-define internal drive. . . .
Some presidents’ families have been famously dysfunctional. Thomas Lincoln abandoned 9-year-old Abraham and his sister, 12, for several months in their frontier cabin right after the death of their mother, while he went to find a new wife, says Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author most recently of “Team of Rivals,” a book about Lincoln. When Thomas finally returned with their new stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston, the couple found them “wild — ragged and dirty,” seeming barely human, the stepmother later wrote.
Abraham’s father was “constantly taking him out of school or making him work off debt with other farmers or making fun of him that he was lazy because he was reading” so much, Ms. Kearns says. She and other historians credit his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and stepmother with providing the nurturing and love that propelled him to leadership. “All that I am or ever hope to be,” Lincoln said of his mother, “I owe to her.”
In another notably troubled family, Bill Clinton’s father died before Bill was born; his stepfather was a womanizer and an alcoholic who beat his mother, Virginia, according to biographer David Maraniss. Although Virginia, a warm, nurturing woman, made her son the adored centerpiece of the family, President Clinton said later that he often pined for his birth father.
Many leaders manage to draw inspiration from troubled legacies, Mr. Wead says. Sen. Obama’s father, a failed Kenyan politician, separated from Barack’s mother when their son was 2 years old, saw Barack for only a few weeks during his childhood and died when Barack was 21. Yet the senator as a child experienced relatives’ larger-than-life stories about his father as “a morality tale,” he wrote in his book, “Dreams from My Father.” He focused on his father’s good qualities — as a brilliant, gifted orator with high ideals and ambitions — and came to regard him as the embodiment of hope. “Even in his absence,” Sen. Obama wrote, “his strong image had given me some bulwark on which to grow up, an image to live up to, or disappoint.”

So, in other words, his family lied about his father who abandoned him. Guh-reat. Now, we know where he gets his ability to effectively tell voters tall tales and spread the mythology while he aims to “spread the wealth”.

In an even stronger pattern, historians say, many presidents had dominant and eccentric mothers. When Nancy McKinley’s son William became president, he set up a special telephone wire from the White House to her home in Ohio so they could talk every day, Mr. Wead says. And when young Franklin Roosevelt was quarantined with scarlet fever at his boarding school, Sara Delano Roosevelt found a ladder and climbed to his window to inspect him daily, wrote historian Doris Faber in a 1968 book on presidents’ mothers.
Lyndon Johnson’s mother had Lyndon sleep in her bedroom when his father was away; she “put him at the center of her life,” says Ms. Goodwin, his biographer. That bond helped create in her son “that ambition to go forward in the world.” Some presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Johnson, have actually called themselves “Mama’s boys.” In his book “Faith of My Fathers,” Sen. McCain, too, calls himself “my mother’s son.”
Even the McCain family, with its tradition of distinguished military service, fits the pattern of an absent father and an overinvolved mother who fills the gap, Mr. Wead says. Sen. McCain’s father was a respected four-star Navy admiral and commander of Pacific forces in the Vietnam war, but he was mostly absent from home during Sen. McCain’s childhood. Sen. McCain reflects pride in his father and was taught to regard his long absences “not as a deprivation, but as an honor.”
But he also spends a fair amount of ink on his fathers’ failings. He writes that he grew up lacking “a loving and protective family.” He describes his father as “a distant, inscrutable patriarch”; of his father’s battle with alcoholism, he writes that “when he was drunk, I did not recognize him.” He turned to his mother as a result, writing, “Her heart has always been large enough to encompass her children with as much love and care as any mother’s child has ever enjoyed.” (Both candidates declined through spokesmen to be interviewed for this column. [DS: Gee, I wonder why.])
Mr. Wead undertook his 2005 book, “The Raising of a President,” hoping to discover “some little key” to parenting children who rise to leadership, he says. But, he found the presidents’ parents “were as neurotic and possessive and awful as anybody’s,” he says — a discovery he found “very liberating” as a parent. Instead, the unifying thread was “how these presidents were able to transcend these experiences or re-invent them as inspirational.”
What’s the takeaway for parents? “Love is the key,” Mr. Wead says. Even in families that lacked discipline, future presidents were often able to find it elsewhere, in the military or school. But with enough of the crucial ingredient — parental love — Mr. Wead says, a child can realize, “I do not have to be a prisoner of my past.”

Well, I’m happy for the Marxist, “spread the wealth”, William Ayers/Jesse Jackson/Louis Farrakhan candidate that he was able to not “be a prisoner of [his] past.”
Let’s just hope that come Election Day, we won’t be prisoners of his future.

18 Responses

“Country First” is truly the appropriate slogan for the McCain campaign. It says it all. And was proven.
Although I never was a McCain fan on certain issues, the situation we’re in oblige me to vote for him.
We cannot allow the anti-America, socialist, terrorists supporter take over the White House.
If McCain loses, the American people will lose.
If Hussein wins, the terrorists, the anarchists, the socialists, the communists and all the enemies of America will win.

Independent Conservative on October 24, 2008 at 11:55 am

Hey Debbie,
Speaking of how some of our presidents were raised. Is their any validity to the rumors flying around that Obama might not have been born in America, or is not a citizen? I thought this was total nonsense until Rush mentioned it about two days ago, and then Michael Savage spoke about it for the majority of his show yesterday. The interview is in Mp3 format on his website. I would really like to know your opinion of the potential legal ramifications if these rumor’s are true?

OneIrishJew on October 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Due to alliances with Islamic terrorists organizations like CAIR, Nation of Islam, etc., and with unrepentant domestic terrorists, any person should not be given the highest security clearance in America.
Such a person would be a threat to national security.
Barack Hussein Obama is a threat to national security, is a fifth columnist and should never be given the highest security clearance in the country.
Any person who is allaying himself with terrorists is a terrorist.
Therefore, Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist.
Al Qaeda, China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria and other America-Haters could have never found a better ally in the White House.

Independent Conservative on October 24, 2008 at 2:14 pm

“should never be given” or “should never have…”
Read further about his alliances here:

Independent Conservative on October 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm

We’re all on the same page re BO. As for the topic linking dysfunctional families to great men, if the press had ever done anything but annoint Jack Kennedy as they’ve done with BO, we’d find that Joe Kennedy was a criminal and a philanderer. It doesn’t seem credible to call Lincoln’s family dysfunctional. It is an anachronistic perspective. Children were left alone on the prairie, summer and winter, to allow the parents to homestead additional acreage during the 19th & early 20th century. Even middle-class parents dragged their children across the prairies to the west to take advantage of homesteading opportunities. Many were left in graves along the trail. Times and expectations were different. Expectations of children were expanded to ensure survival for the entire family. How lucky we are to have been born during this time, even with BO & MO looming on the near horizon.

iowavette on October 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

So this must mean that Chelsea will become the President someday. Controlling mother & absentee father?

c f on October 24, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Hopefully Michelle will keep Barack BLACK, because Billy Ayers is a whiteboy, Jesse a housenigger, and Farrakhan a nigro kapo who offed Malcolm!
From where i’m sitting, the greatest fear is that like Bill Clinton, B.O. is gonna be another Republican Lite

EminemsRevenge on October 24, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Well all the presidents mentioned had real issues as Presidents which should not be suprising. I also have read that Lincoln’s wife abused him and their own marriage was very disturbed and his wife was very disturbed and most of her family served in the confederacy. Washington also had a controling mother who he stayed away from although he did have some strong male influences (his half brother) as he certainlly was a very good upstanding man from everything you read about him. In terms of Lincoln though while slavery was wrong I don’t Licoln was a good man and what the North did to the South during the so called “civil” (they burned cities to the ground and had no concern for civilians and Lincoln suspended basic rights and people were put in jail without charges) and Lincoln was a lawyer who was very out of touch and the real reason for the war was economic as the North was afraid of the lost revenue if the South succeeded. I also know that the Jews being kicked out of property under Grant was during Lincoln’s presidency and his response was he mostly agreed with it. The Southern leaders did treat Jews better for the faults they had. There have been books both on the left and right that think Lincoln was very disturbed and while it may have ended slavery Lincoln’s motivation’s were much different then what we say today.
What I am hearing about McCain though is bothersome as well as he seems to distrust other men in general and that will also lead us to marxism if certain leaders think they are the only good man or project their own problems onto others.

adam6275 on October 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

Don’t forget the polygyny problems with Osama/Obama. I know womanizing is part of Leftist politics, but his dad took it to morbid heights.
Osama/Obama is the son of a Muslim polygynist. According to this article, he has a desperate need to be approved by his polygynist father. Here’s something no one has brought up: would an Obama Administration and liberal super majority legalize polygyny? Theyíre backing gay marriage and supporting pedophilia through the judiciary ñ why not polygyny?
Just in Utah we have over 100,000 (1% of the population) folks who practice Sharia-type polygyny. Some folks claim the number is much lower, while some estimate it at around 400,000 – 420,000 (4-4.2% of Utah’s population).
I’m LDS from a very deep LDS background. My great-great-great Grandpa Park was one of the first into the Salt Lake Valley with the Taylor wagon company. On genealogical records, he had four wives and about 26 children. My great-great grandfather down to me had only one wife and didn’t practice Celestial Marriage since.
Now, the concepts and practices of polygyny and Celestial Marriage are very different: Celestial Marriage had multiple rules regarding how to treat wives and children, how the ceremonies must be followed, how wives are to see each other – it would take volumes to reproduce it all here. But the crux of the concept and practice is the husband is to completely care for the family independently of any welfare, the wives are to be the closest of friends as sisters, and abuse by the husband is nearly a death sentence. It was discarded in 1890 under threats by the Fedís to seize all LDS property, private property, and ruin lives to the level of a holocaust.
The concept of polygyny practiced today by excommunicated groups like the FLDS, LDCC, TLC, AUB (or UAB; depending on who you ask), Eagle Mountain, Tom Greenís Greenhaven, etc. completely violates the old Celestial Marriage concept and practice, and is similar to polygyny practiced by Sharia law. These guys claim to be splinters of the LDS faith, but they don’t practice anything close to the LDS faith in those times or today. They only share a history with the Church – nothing else.
Many of these groups claim abuse by government entities and hold grudges since the early 1900’s. Some hold grudges against LDS Authorities and had made some attacks. Many of these folks, despite their lobbying efforts and propaganda, are quite violent. The TLC, founded by schizophrenic James Harmston has made threats to siege the Manti LDS Temple. Many already know what the FLDS had done, and we’re still hunting down members of the murderous LeBaron sect.
We get stories from the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, and many other Leftist and New Media outlets regarding these child @#$%ers. Reports of the LDCC stockpiling caches of ammo, the FLDS owning 3 Cessna airplanes that, according to Hill Air Force Base folks could carry firearms, and the TLC said they have arms to do the will of their prophet. These guys are a total threat to Utah and the west. Even the LDCC are linked to the Bruno Mafia!
Does B. Hussein Obama have any plans to legalize polygyny? I need that answered for the sake of my family and our peace. Heís already made statements supporting Socialism, Marxism, and every other depraved new world order crap. What about polygyny? Will he support these rebels?

bhparkman on October 25, 2008 at 11:02 am

bhparkman, you haven’t been back to see the nice man in the white coat, as I advised, have you?
I fear it might be too late, reading this past diatribe of yours I feel you may have slipped from being slightly bonkers into total frothing-at-the-mouth-barking-at-the-moon insanity.
When President Obama’s Secret Service detail come to take you away to a padded cell, remember at least that it was I – NoPasaran the Socialist! who tried in vain to save you.

No Pasaran! on October 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

You cant choose your families, however you can choose your friends. Obama’s friends and associates are totally on the radical side. Now we cant know or not know if Obama was born here or to whom he claims his father was. Berg’s lawsuit thrown.
Oh well the Muslim Snake Charmer COBRA-MA will tell everyone to drink the Kool-Aid, get on his magic carpet ride and on election day the national self-induced emasculation will commence.
No Pasaran, the problem with you socialists is you feel you have the right to “save” us. This country was founded on freedom. That is why it has survived for so long. Freedom to suceed or fail. Free people want the ability to live their life without government control. Socialists like Obama want subjugation through “financial security”. He wants to “spread the wealth”. He wants everyone to rely on government so they will be “secure”. Give everyone a stimulus check, because we cant allow them to fail. You know in freedom there will be failures. Free people understand that. Socialism doesnt want failure, therefore it doesnt want freedom. Now is that “freedom”? Obama never uses freedom in his speeches. Freedom was Reagan’s anthem. He understood people yearned innately for freedom. He helped liberate Eastern Europe from socialism. What brought people from socialistic countries to America was they wanted opportunities. The freedom of opportunity which is what Socailists want to take from individuals. Socialists want fascism, endoctrination of the family through political correctness. Socialists have a world view and want complicity to that world view. They are PC, they cant have dissent. Free people dont mind dissent until you subjugate us to that view. We may think you are kooks, but free people wont take away your right to be an idiot.
No Pasaran please dont “save” us.

californiascreaming on October 25, 2008 at 6:51 pm

No Pasaran!,
Good to see you still have your assignment in the Leftist SS.
By the way, I have something called “work”; w-o-r-k. A word used to describe a method of honest employment to earn money and prestige. I’m earning a truck load of money right now from commodities and consulting fees. I’m helping folks save themselves independently from the financial mess your side’s politicians brought us.
“When President Obama’s Secret Service detail come to take you away to a padded cell, remember at least that it was I – NoPasaran the Socialist! who tried in vain to save you.”
Now who’s delusional? I reamed your Leftist hyde last time and can do it again. Rush is right, you guys can’t stand folks like me, Deb, samurai, or c f; you can’t debate us openly – you have to silence us to win.
HA! You’ll never win!

bhparkman on October 25, 2008 at 9:03 pm

My wife just asked, “Did that guy threaten to stick you in a gulag?”
I said, “He’s threatening that Obama’s henchmen will stick me in a gulag.”
To which she said, “But, we don’t believe in public schooling!”
HA! HA! HAAA! Love it!

bhparkman on October 25, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Who the heck cares about polygamy as to vote against Obama for this reason is absurd and who knows if this is true or not? There are plenty of legit reasons to not vote for Obama but this is crazy. I agree the ideal is one man and one woman but I still think while not ideal it is better for a women to be married under polygomy then not to be married at all. Abraham and Jacob both had a number of wives although their wives partly encouraged it. In Russia they allowed polygomy because their is a shortage of men in the country as men live 13 years less then women do or did. To be honest most Jewish men who I have spoken to believe POlygomy will be brought back one day not that it is the most important issue as these same men on other issues worship Rabbi’s even though their idea controdicts the bible’s idea’s.

adam6275 on October 25, 2008 at 11:27 pm

“I creamed your Leftist hyde last time”
You did?
I must have missed that bit, was it on a thread I don’t know about?
If you think that you were anything other than humiliated in our early debate, you are indeed too far gone for psychiatric help.
“No Pasaran please dont “save” us.”
That was a joke. In fact I have no interest in saving any of you people. The more you people suffer the more I love it.
Your government is collapsing, the human race has turned it’s back with revulsion on your failed philosophy. You have allowed Iran to win the US v. Iraq war (how did you manage that? – You people couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery) and your government has had to nationalize your finance industry to save it.

No Pasaran! on October 26, 2008 at 4:01 am

Here’s why:

ramjordan on October 26, 2008 at 8:02 am

Deb, This is one of your greatest columns. The last line is perfect. Let us pray and even more so . . . VOTE!!

gregoryp on October 26, 2008 at 10:25 am

You should have done more with Roosie and Wilson.
It isn’t how nutty the family is, but how they interprete it: O-boy is just living a fantasy about his. The problem is that he will act on it and God help us!
When people are that disconnected, their fantasies will let them do absolutely anything with no conscience whatsoever.

taffy on October 28, 2008 at 7:55 am

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