Greg Jaffe, Washington Post
Obama and his grandfather image fromExcerpt:
Unlike most presidents, Obama is staying in Washington so that his youngest daughter can finish high school. He is unique among modern presidents for his peripatetic childhood and complicated family history. His father was from Kenya. He was raised by his sometimes-absent mother and grandparents in Hawaii and Indonesia.
He eventually adopted Chicago, his wife’s home town, as his base.
Obama’s tenuous roots, cool personality, and lack of friends and former colleagues seeking favors made him something of an enigma to some of his advisers. “He may be the least sentimental guy I’ve ever met,” marveled one top aide from his first term.
To Obama, this rootlessness was a virtue. He sought to build a political identity that transcended the country’s old racial, geographic and ethnic divisions. He was the first black U.S. president, but also called himself the first Pacific president, and spoke proudly of his Kansas and Scotch-Irish roots.
“See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland,” Obama said at last summer’s Democratic National Convention. “Their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago.”
Even as the country grew more angry and polarized during his presidency, Obama believed that his shape-shifting identity, and ability to empathize with Americans of all races and backgrounds, could help him bridge deepening divides. In his final news conference, he imagined a future in which there would be a female president, a Jewish president, a Hindu president. ...