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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama and McCain Have Daddy Issues

posted by on August 21 at 11:00 AM


I’d like to direct your attention to this week’s books lead, by Eli Sanders. It’s called “Who’s Your Daddy,” and it’s at once a great review of two similarly themed books and a fascinating analysis of the men who would be president and the men who made the men who would be president.

…If you thought you had issues with the man who brought you into this world, try being the man who grows up to believe he has what it takes to be leader of the free world.

Over the next two weeks, we will be introduced—at the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions—to two men who have come to believe just this and who, naturally, have had plenty of issues with their fathers. They’ve even put out similarly titled books on the subject: Dreams from My Father, in the case of Barack Obama, and Faith of My Fathers, in the case of John McCain.

I haven’t seen any other reviews of the two books done in quite this way, and Eli really finds some new insight into Obama:

Generally speaking, politically minded people lack the freedom (or the ability) to convey the subtleties and paradoxes of life as it is actually lived, which tends to make them terrible writers. Barack Obama, in Dreams from My Father, turns out to be all about the subtleties and paradoxes and weird private moments of life, and on top of that he is a talented writer, naturally skilled at constructing the interlocking narratives and interesting characters (many of them composites) that he relies on to tell his story.

and McCain:

If McCain had his father to thank for his somewhat above-average [prison] conditions, he also had him to thank for the B-52s that were sent late in the war to “rain destruction on the city where I was held a prisoner.” The lesson, evocative of Abraham’s Old Testament willingness to sacrifice his son for God’s will, was that McCain’s father would risk killing him to win a war.

McCain admired that devotion to duty.

It’s a great piece that I’m proud to have in the books section. You should read it.

RSS icon Comments


That should be expanded and brought beyond the book section.

Posted by A | August 21, 2008 11:29 AM

everyone has a dad, everyone has daddy issues.

Posted by max solomon | August 21, 2008 12:04 PM

Um, gee, @1, we didn't cut anything to put it in the books section, and it's over 2000 words. You're giving my section an inferiority complex.

Posted by Paul Constant | August 21, 2008 12:08 PM

This review is worthy of a book deal on the subject itself. I have saved it as a PDF and will include it in my private collection of the "Best of the Stranger."

(Tim and Dan, why has there never been a book collection of the best of your articles? No matter what people say, you have had some of the best young American writers of the past 15 years working for you.)

Posted by elswinger | August 21, 2008 12:15 PM

I just meant that beyond a book review it would a make a good comparison of the two candidates in general. These kind of comparisons, combined with their voting records, show what kind of people they really are. Not whether or not they eat arugula or whatever.

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