Quotations From Chairman Barry

Garen Thomas, author of Santa's Kwanzaa and Let's Go: The Budget Guide to Rome (1995), has written a biography of Barack Obama targeted to young adults, and it seems to imply that he's the messiah. The Wall Street Journal's review characterizes her writing as "hagiography", "worshipful", and anything but even-handed. Clearly, this is an attempt to propagandize to the key bookish middle-schooler demographic.

The Journal's review seemed strongly worded, but the publisher's site does little to contradict the estimation of the book as unmittigated admiration.

Born in the U.S.A., the son of an African father and an American mother, a boy who spent his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii, Barack Obama is truly a citizen of the world. His campaign for the presidency is powered by a fierce optimism, an exuberant sense of purpose and determination, and, above all, a belief that change can happen.

Admittedly, young adult novels are hardly the place for hard-hitting political analysis, but there has been a real problem with the media dealing with Obama in terms ill-suited to active politicians. A few months ago, Gerard Baker in The Times of London addressed the core of the problem.

Mr Obama is portrayed throughout as an immanently benevolent figure. Not human really, more a comforting presence, a light source. He is always eager to listen to all aides of an argument, always instilling confidence in the weak-willed, resolutely sticking to his high principles and tirelessly spurning the low road of electoral politics.

Maybe the problem is that we shouldn't be young adult biographizing Obama quite yet, and that much of the media is kind of already dealing with him like the subject of a young adult biography.

Quotations From Chairman Barry

Perhaps we're so used to Jackie Robinson and Sandra Day O'Connor bios emphasizing great figures triumphing over adversity to make history that it's the only way we feel comfortable addressing the prospect of our first African-American President. In doing so, we've ignored the danger of lauding a guy before his legacy is clear.

[via WSJ]