The Spectacle Blog

Standing Ignorant of History

By on 3.3.08 | 10:34AM

Jed Babbin notices something fishy about Obama's "inspirational" speaking method:

We can learn a lot about a man by discovering what he read and what influenced his mind in his formative years. Churchill said, “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.†Has Obama studied history? If so, he does not value it enough to mention it. In Dreams, Obama mentions only one book that influenced him, the autobiography of black radical Malcolm X. Obama writes, “Only Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in discipline, forged through the sheer force of will."

It's an important point. Obama has noted that he writes most of his own speeches. He certainly wrote his own books. Yet even in these contexts, he's not given to drawing parallels with history, something that you'd expect.

It's not a slam. But for all the kudos Obama gets for being a thinking man, an intellectual, why do so few volumes appear in his mental library?

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article