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The Pop Presidency of Barack Obama

By Tevi Troy, Commentary - October 8, 2013

In his memoir Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama describes the after-school routine of his childhood in Hawaii, where he was raised by his grandparents:

"I might stop off at a newsstand run by a blind man who would let me know what new comics had come in. Gramps would be at home to let me into the apartment, and as he lay down for his afternoon nap, I would watch cartoons and sitcom reruns. Homework would be done in time for dinner, which we ate in front of the television. There I would stay for the rest of the evening, negotiating with Gramps over which programs to watch, sharing the latest snack food he’d discovered at the supermarket. At ten o’clock, I went to my room (Johnny Carson came on at that time, and there was no negotiating around that), and I would go to sleep to the sounds of Top 40 music on the radio."

Obama had the stereotypical American pop-culture childhood, and then some. Indeed, Obama’s nonstop television-viewing was a point of contention in the one brief interaction he ever had with his father. Barack Obama Sr.’s visit to Hawaii in 1971 was an uncomfortable one. His mother’s parents had never approved of their daughter’s union, and his mother Stanley, who had left her son with her parents and was living in Jakarta, returned to Hawaii for the visit.

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