We've all heard President Barack Obama's American journey. Twice. In "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," Obama told his glossy, airbrushed story: son of a black father and single mother with international background but American values, a man who overcame his personal struggle with race to become a great uniter.
Then there are the untold parts of his background that we've heard from other sources: his associations with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. His real estate dealings with corrupt businessman Tony Rezko. His political backstabbing in Chicago.
Finally, there are the parts of his story we never hear about at all: the stories from his childhood and adolescence. The most formative time of our lives are the years between birth and age 21, when we explore who we are and learn from those who surround us. We know virtually nothing about this time in President Obama's life. But we're learning.
Young Barry Obama spent the ages from 6 to 10 attending school in Indonesia after his mother married Lolo Soetoro. During that time, according to Obama's third-grade teacher, the "fat, curly-haired, curious" Barry studied Quran and went to Islamic classes over the protestations of his mother, Ann. Ann apparently showed up at the school demanding to know why the religious teacher had accepted young Barry into class. "But," said Barry's teacher, "he kept going to the classes because he was interested in Islam. He would also join the other pupils for Muslim prayers."
Even as young Obama reportedly embraced the Quran, his nanny was teaching him about other lifestyles. According to The New York Times, "His nanny was an openly gay man who, in keeping with Indonesia's relaxed attitudes toward homosexuality, carried on an affair with a local butcher, longtime residents said." The nanny was part of a transvestite volleyball group who called themselves the Fantastic Dolls.
Perhaps, the most enlightening detail from that Times article came from one of Obama's childhood friends, Slamet Januadi. One time, Januadi related, Obama asked some of his friends whether they'd rather be the president, a businessman or a soldier. The soldier would be armed, the businessman would be rich, and the president would have nothing. The boys gave various answers.
"Then," Januadi recalled, "Barry said he would become president and order the soldier to guard him and the businessman to use his money to build him something. We told him, 'You cheated. You didn't give us those details.'"