July 24, 2012
Salon contributor Eric McHenry will likely be surprised to find himself categorized as "the media," but his omissions and evasions about Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis so impressively mirror the major media's that he deserves the honor.
What drew my attention to McHenry's recent article in Salon, "Obama's Oddest Critic," is that yours truly is the "critic" in question. According to the subtitle, "Jack Cashill is obsessed with the president's college poetry and positive it proves his life is 'one massive fraud.'" In that exactly none of my most recent 100 articles is about Obama's poetry -- and only a few even mention it -- I doubt I rank high on anyone's obsession index other than McHenry's.
The reason I mention the poetry at all is to shed light on the young Obama's relationship with Davis, his Hawaiian mentor. In my early writing on Obama's literary talents, I took him at his word that he wrote some "very bad poetry" and largely ignored the two radically different poems he submitted as an Occidental College undergraduate, the cringe-worthy "Underground" and the more complex "Pop."
It was my co-conspirator Don Wilkie who prompted me to take another look at the latter poem. "I have read 'Pop' now maybe 20 or 30 times," Wilkie wrote me a few years back, "and I think it is about Obama telling us that 'Pop' really is, his pop."