The Gospel Truth

An American Chameleon:Obama and His Sense of Identity

April 13, 2010

I have a standard line that I use frequently to get a rise out of people.  I tell the unsuspecting friend that some one stole my identity.

After an initial reaction of shock and horror, I add: Yeah but the guy called a week later and said he was giving it back because it was too hard being me!

No matter what one may say or think about President Barack Obama, I think he can rest assured that nobody and I mean–nobody will ever steal his identity.

I mean we have been through this a lot recently.

What do we really know about the most transparent president in history, as he likes to pretend?

Here are some questions about him.  See is you can honestly answer them.

1) Where was he born? You say Hawaii? Are you certain?  Have you ever seen a birth certificate?

Of course most of us have never seen any president’s birth certificate but this president has spent over a million dollars of someone’s money trying to avoid showing his in public.

You don’t have to be a birther to wonder about his national origins, give the suspicious way he has reacted to the questions.

f there were a valid birth certificate available–the State of Hawaii has not released any to my knowledge…even under the Freedom of Information Act–it would be in every newspaper.

This would effectively end the issue.

2) Who was his father? Barack Senior, you say.

Again we have been over this territory.  II have read an article that lines up pictures of the president with his mother, Virginia, Barack Sr. and Frank Davis, a self-admitted Communist who mentored the younger Obama when he was known as Barry.

You don’t have to be an expert in identification to see the close family resemblance to Davis and on a similar note, the lack of resemblance to Barack Sr.

Of course if Comrade Davis had been his natural father then any debate about his national origins would be mute.

3) What religion is he? You say Christian.  That’s possible but how do we really know.

People are still debating the religion of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Obama certainly studied his namesake’s religion when he lived in Indonesia and his mother had married a second Muslim man by that time.

He said in 2008 that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had brought him to Christ yet I have never once heard him invoke the name of Christ in any speech, talk or personal interview.

If Reverend Wright brought him to Jesus, he is certainly tight-lipped about the ramifications of his “conversion.”

Several professional athletes that are born-again, refer to Jesus in virtually every interview they give and even on the field during games.  Just listen to Kurt Warner sometime.

4) What race is he? Biracial or mixed you say. He had a white mother and a black father–either Frank Davis or Barack Obama.  That seems like a 50-50 mix to me.

Well they just released his census form answers and President Obama checked the box for black.

In her column, Obama’s Census Identity for the WSJ the other day, Abigail Thernstrom makes several cogent points about just another of the president’s many identity issues.

First of all, she pointed out how officially he changed his race from  biracial which he is, to black, which he is not, on his census form.

Funny how we can know about this but we still do not know conclusively about his birth origins.

And I wonder, isn’t it illegal to falsify information on a census form–even if one has a good reason?

Well some people are above the law–like Bill Clinton for one.  I think perjury is still illegal.

Thernstrom goes on to recount his appearance on the David Letterman Show in September of 2009, where he talked about his search for his identity as an adolescent in high school.

This prompted the host to quip:  How long have you been a black man?

This may have more of an element of truth in it than the intellectually challenged host realized because it his high schools days, Obama was known as Barry and tended more toward the white side of his genetic make-up.

What neither seemed to understand or say was that Obama’s racial preference is based on the ante-civil rights assumption that even one drop of black blood made one a black person.

Thernstrom also points out that his false choice on the census was a slap at his dead mother, and the grandparents who acted as surrogate parents for much of his boyhood.

It is also strange that Obama has chosen the identity of his father who abandoned him when he was barely two years old.

Thernstrom opines that the reason he joined Reverend Wright’s Trinity Church was because it was an Afrocentric church with strong ties to the black community.

Thernstrom contrasts the president’s politicization of his race with the attitude of defamed golfer, Tiger Woods, who calls himself, because of his own mixed parentage a Cablinasian, that is a Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian.

Though I hate golf, and was very disappointed by his extra-marital behavior, I do admire Tiger’s witty approach to the dicey question of racial identity.

If only we could have gotten something similar from our president, then maybe the country would not be sending so many mixed messages.

He is very much like an American Chameleon because of his ability to try to change his identity to suit the blowing winds of political change.

Some day I expect to see him on a recreation of that old popular TV show of the 1950’s To Tell the Truth, where the original host, Bud Collyer would say:

Will the Real Barack Obama please stand up!

A Big Mac Attack Part II

January 17, 2010

We all know now that McGwire was thinking of quitting, so bad was his pain in the early 1990’s from a chronic heel problem.

The idea of such a gentle giant succumbing to an “Achilles Heel” malady is laden with a rich irony.

Suppose he did quit in 1994?  I doubt I would still be a baseball fan!   Just as the Babe did in 1921, “Big Mac” literally saved baseball for me and I’ll wager millions of other die-hard baseball fans.

He literally took it off the railroad tracks of self-destruction in 1998 before the sinister villain of owner/player greed eviscerated it for all time.

“Big Mac” led a cavalry charge over the hills to save the wagon train.  With a little help from Sammy Sosa, McGwire pulled baseball back from the brink.

For those with short memories…in 1993 Major League Baseball was forced to cancel it annual World Series because the billionaire owners could not get an agreement with their millionaire players.

As a result we were all deprived of parts of two seasons and…the WORLD SERIES.

The last time there was no Fall Classic was 1904 when the National League’s John McGraw refused to play the upstart league’s champion Philadelphia Athletics.

In those 50 years baseball had survived two world wars, a Depression, Korea and Vietnam and several political assassinations.  It was unforgivable.

That’s like someone canceling Christmas because the elves went on strike.  It’s like the Pope refusing to say Midnight Mass in the Vatican because his Swiss Guard had gone on strike.

And believe me baseball has always been my game. Due to my indelible attraction for the game, I later taught what is arguably the first accredited baseball history course in the midwest at Maryville College in 1973-74.

Unlike most of our “professional experts” I have studied the game in its entirety and know its history–even its sordid side.

For me to walk away from a game I have loved and cherished since I first heard Vince Scully’s dulcet tones describe Pee Wee Reese ‘s sterling play at short-stop in 1952, would be tantamount to Tiger Woods forgoing golf and  saying he was entering a Buddhist monastery.  (Maybe he should do just that!)

What McGwire admitted to having done pales in comparison to the Black Sox of 1919, Ty Cobb’s beating of a crippled heckler in 1910 and Pete Rose’s nasty demeanor.

And while I am on Rose a USA Today columnist had the thoughtless temerity of favorably comparing him with Mark McGwire.

I suggest that she read a little history and then maybe she might understand that it was gambling that nearly killed baseball for good in 1920. What McGwire did in the short run at least was very good for baseball.

Those who had suspicions, like writer Ring Lardner did in 1919, should have raised them when baseball was losing its hold on the public consciousness.

Fat chance our keepers of the faith would have further jeopardized their dying golden goose.  It is only under the protective coating of baseball’s boundless success and record attendance–largely due to “juiced” players that they dare rock the boat of baseball history.

So please stop with all the self-righteous, “holier than thou” gum-beating!

About Big Mac’s regrettable appearance before Congress–just what business does the United States Congress have with baseball? Like they are the beacons of honesty and integrity?

Haven’t these people already ruined much of what is decent about American life?  Why do they have to put their ignorance to work on our once great National Pastime? Aren’t these the same people who are trying to destroy the best health care system in the world?

I knew immediately that McGwire refusal to answer their questions was the work of his attorneys. They could not get him immunity, so as they say  “silence is golden.” (I wonder how much gold he had to pay them and if he got his money’s worth.)

Now we find out that they warned him that he could have suffer prosecution or a grand jury hearing if he said the wrong thing.  What would trigger that?

Had “Big Mac” broken the laws of the land or were they referring to his denials as being perjury?  It seems to me all this flap about drugs and steroids–are they the same thing?  Are all steroids essentially the same?  Are they all bad for you?

I have always resented having to learn economics to understand baseball…now I’ll have to study pharmacology!

Too bad it just wasn’t just about sex…. Tiger Woods could have lied his head off in front of Congress and no one would have cared, except maybe Kenneth Starr.

Let Congress investigate golf and leave baseball alone!

I think one could make the case that both his “co-defendants” before Congress who even addressed their questions might have perjured themselves.

Sammy Sosa immediately forgot what little English he knew and Rafael Palmeiro vehemently denied he had used anything.  When he was busted months later for doing what he denied it made his testimony very suspect.

And how can anyone gauge if his steroid use added any home runs to his total?  Most of his dingers I saw cleared the walls by 50-100’.  How far did he really need to hit them? Do you think the Governator could hit a fastball or Lou Ferrigno?

McGwire still had to hit the ball.  Look at his rookie photos with Oakland when he was relatively slender.  He hit 49 home runs, still the rookie record I believe.

Lets face it since 1968 when no one in the American League could hit more than .301 baseball has done everything in its power to add power to the game. If you are looking for the origin of the “untraditional” DH, 1968 is arguably where to start.

To help the batter, ML baseball lowered the mound, outlawed pitching inside.  They also made smaller stadia while batters padded themselves like goalies.

Baseball did everything but make them pitch underhand or better put the ball on a tee.

As an aside to the Maris family who now say that McGwire’s admission means that their late father regains his home run record.

Maris hit his 61 home runs in 163 games.  Babe Ruth hit 60 in 155 games.  Maris got his 60th in his 156th game and his last one in the last game of the 1961 season.

So if McGwire is off the pedestal he stood on for three years, I think so is their dad.

To this with all due respect, get a life.  Without the other “M” in the Yankee line-up hitting in front of their dad, I seriously doubt he would have broken the Babe’s record.  And he had a longer season to surpass the Babe.

And to people who say that they should expunge all their records, thinking that makes as much sense as whistling “Dixie” in a dark alley in Harlem.

And what about Barry Bonds, who looks like he has been filled with helium? He broke a lot of hearts with his 73rd homer run in 2001.

Was he injured?  Rumor has it that he “pumped up” to beat “Big Mac.”  Now I have trouble with that attitude.

From what I understand he has more trouble with the IRS than he does over any home run record.

Look I have studied “Big Mac” from afar for years and think he is an honest, decent, quiet, almost shy kind of giant, who like his mentor and boss, Tony LaRussa does not impress with his communication skills.

I think he is still very family oriented and as he said, he did not want to put them through the anal exam that Congress often pleasures itself with.  I can believe that.  So I am glad that he is coming back to baseball because it was poorer without him.

I hope he can get his reputation back and maybe even make the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

I am however, eternally grateful that he did not go on with Oprah to make his teary confession.  That might have been more than I can take!

And finally I have my own “confession” to make. Though I do not list it in my bio, one of my favorite accomplishments was capturing a photo of “Big Mac’s” historic 70th homer on September 27, 1998.  It now hangs in the “McGwire Room” in one of the leading trattorias in Clayton.

About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at