Maybe this is so obvious nobody has said it, but reading Karl Rove’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal made me think of it once again.
Obama is not making “gaffes.” He’s been a myth-maker from the first. Isn’t that the message of his books? He is basically nothing, with a mother who’s a total flake and a father who’s as absent as a father can be, no real other family to depend on. So he uses his brains (he has some), and he turns to literature of various kinds to assemble an identity.
In a big part of that identity construction, as John Derbyshire has written, Obama gets “hung up on his negritude.” And for all the rest, it’s a Chinese menu, with two from Column A and one from Column B.
He’s Gatsby, he’s the King (or the Duke) from Huckleberry Finn, he’s Philip Roth’s carefully constructed professor from The Human Stain. He is, in short, a creature of American literature, not really an organically developed person at all. He is an exemplar to the max of identity politics, or all politics is persona.