I have written and broadcast on the subject of Senator Obama’s first book, Dreams From My Father. It has to be the most unusual book ever by a presidential aspirant, and much of what he writes cannot be classified as mainstream, and some of what he wrote would shock the average American, including his causal use of profanity and his admission concerning past cocaine use. The book was first published in 1995, before Senator Obama could have imagined a presidential run and perhaps before he could imagine anything more than the Congressional seat he unsuccessfully sought in 2000.
I did not learn until today that Senator Obama actually recorded the audio book, and I suspect that it won’t be long until the most controversial parts of that audio book are broadcast. I broadcast one excerpt from Chapter 4 today, from pp. 72-74, and asked the audience for their reactions. Some callers shrugged it off, but many were deeply offended. I pointed out that past profanity cases like Nixon’s “expletive deleteds,” Bush’s description of a New York Times’ reporter and Dick Cheney’s response to Pat Leahy have generated enormous headlines, but never has a presidential candidate ever purposefully recorded himself swearing so profusely or with such variety. I think the audiobook tape will matter a great deal, even if only used in context, and that of course the YouTube generation will begin manipulating the tape as soon as it is known to be available.
UPDATE: When a caller accused me of cherry-picking one profanity-laced segment of the book, I broadened the selection of excerpts to include Obama’s own profanity –not that of his friends which he recorded– as well as some samples of other controversial passages. You can listen to the first five clips I used in the third hour of the program when it is posted later tonight here.