I used to have a friend with a few screws loose. But you'd never know it.
Barbara dressed impeccably in designer wear, and her house resembled a museum. She was a professor, tops in her field.
But behind the impressive image, all wasn't right. She said she loved her son, Noah, but acted like he didn't exist. A single parent, Barbara wouldn't hesitate to introduce Noah to her boyfriend of the month. She skipped some of his meals, claiming that she was too busy to cook.
Barbara called me her best friend. But she'd cancel dates at the last minute for no good reason. And she always flaked when I needed her.
Even though Barbara looked perfectly normal, there was something awry. Perhaps the neurons in her brain weren't firing properly.
I've been thinking about Barbara since Obama came on the scene. Like Barbara, Obama professes concern for people, but treats many with utter disregard. Since both are charismatic and successful, it's easy to get fooled.
Some would say Obama's cool detachment is narcissism. But narcissists are charmers; they know exactly what to say and do, even it's all hot air.
Others think that Obama is disengaged because he's elitist, arrogant. The day-to-day grunt-work is beneath him. His motto: I'd rather be golfing.
All of the above may be true, but it's something else: he seems off to me.
During a "60 Minutes" interview with Steve Kroft when the stock market was sinking, Obama giggled. He wasn't embarrassed afterward, or apologetic. More worrisome than his bizarre behavior was that he didn't regard it as strange.
Then, last week, we're faced with a national crisis: soldiers killed and gravely injured by an apparent Jihadist in the guise of a military doctor. When announcing the catastrophe, what does Obama do?
He drones on and on for three minutes about Native American health issues, even doing a shout-out. In a monotone voice, Obama then reports
that soldiers have been shot. He's nonchalant, flat, as though he's reporting the weather.
Afterwards, the opinions roll in. Some say that Obama looks down on the military. He views our soldiers as the great unwashed, trashy and ignorant, like Sarah Palin.
Others assert that Obama's sympathies lie with the Muslims. Thus, he wants to avoid our burning questions: Why wasn't Major Hasan put on leave after he made anti-American remarks and surfed the web for information about Jihad? Most importantly: what is the government going to do to keep our military people and civilians safe?
True, Obama's disinterest could be related to all of the above. But there's one more possibility: he may not have the foggiest idea what to feel or say or do.
He may not realize that after dozens of our soldiers are shot, he should be angry. Sad. Worried. He should feel something. Or at least pretend to.
When Obama isn't prepped and rehearsed, he flails around like a blind man. He's clueless, lost in space.
Obama wrote in his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, that he's not comfortable around people. This speaks volumes about his disengagement.
People who cannot relate to humans, who are made nervous by close proximity, shut down. They isolate and hide, like a snail inside its shell.
This is when my therapist mind goes into overdrive trying to figure out what's wrong with Obama.
Is he schizoid (a detached, asocial person)? Bipolar (manic depression)? Does he have a brain syndrome? What about Asperger's (high-functioning autism causing a defect in social skills)?
Is something wrong medically -- a hormone or blood-sugar imbalance, a head injury, too many drugs in his youth?
Or is his disconnect caused by damage from childhood, from being raised
by freaky people?
Barack, Sr. was an abusive alcoholic and a bigamist. Obama's mother, like my former friend Barbara, made decisions about little Barry that showed little parental concern, like schlepping him to Indonesia, then back to the States, then wanting to return with him to Indonesia (he stayed with his grandparents).
Obama's grandfather Stanley was impulsive and volatile; he was expelled from high school for punching his principal.
Stanley weirdly named Obama's mother "Stanley" because he wanted a boy. He anointed Frank Marshall Davis, an alleged pedophile and avowed communist, as young Barry's mentor. In his autobiography, Obama reports feeling uncomfortable at having to listen to sexually charged, drunken trash-talk between Stanley and Frank.
Did Obama start sealing himself off in childhood? It would be understandable: who would want to bond with people so disturbing? And why form emotional ties when you'll soon be leaving?
Obama may have felt continually out of place and alien: black in a white family, American in Indonesia, middle class with average grades at a rich kids' prep school, and child of an odd, Communist-leaning family.
In Dreams, he reveals how he started detaching. About living with his grandparents from preteen on, he writes, "I was to live with strangers." And: "I'd arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents; I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my troubles out of sight."
All grown up, Obama remains hermetically sealed. Although he's been a media star for a couple of years, we have no idea who he is inside.
I've often wondered why people haven't come forth to say, "I knew Barry when..." We live in a media-saturated, exhibitionist world where everyone wants his three minutes of fame.
So where are all of his school chums, best friends, and old flames? The groups he hung with? His teachers, neighbors?
Where are the anecdotes of what Obama was like, his interests and predilections? Was he friendly, funny, insightful? Did he win any prizes or trophies? Pen any papers?
Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review. Yet from his former colleagues we find no accounts of putting out the journal together under his leadership.
He was a lecturer on constitutional law. Why hasn't a single student come forth and offered evidence like a good attorney?
Why the silence? Could it be that Obama left no dent, not even a single footprint? Is there nothing there?
When I envision the youth of other public figures, my impressions are vivid:
Little Bill Clinton: people-pleaser, Mama's boy, showoff.
Young Hillary: brainiac, smartest girl in school, bossy.
W: wisecracker, class clown, smart-aleck.
McCain: impetuous, volatile, ornery.
Sarah: sweet, popular, every teacher's favorite, Miss Congeniality.
Young Barry: _________________. Blank.
Only this: stranger in a strange land.
Obama's identity seems to have been formed when he found his clan: Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and Bernadine Dohrn. But these are disconnected people, misfits who aren't comfortable in their own skin. Their radical ideology arises from rage and alienation.
They, like Obama, treat people with disdain. Rev. Wright damned us after 9/11. Ayers and Dohrn bombed us, even masterminded a failed plot to kill U.S. servicemen attending a dance.
Obama's indifference and distaste are on display every day. He golfs while unemployment surges. He pontificates after an attack against America.
Why the "let them eat cake" attitude? Is it because he's pleased that the Left's long-laid plan to decimate capitalism is working nicely? Is he stubborn, not wanting to do what he doesn't want to do?
I'd say yes. But there's something much more unsettling.
He may have a limited ability to care.
Sure, Obama loves his wife, children, dog Bo, and himself -- especially himself. And he relishes his far left ideology.
But the working stiff, the heart and soul of this country? I don't see it. The United States? I don't think so.
And that's why Obama should never have been elected president.
A man or woman can be a decent president without getting As in school or graduating from the Ivy League. He or she does not need to have had a Brady Bunch childhood.
The person can even lack experience if he or she is committed to working 24/7, learning the important stuff, and seeking expert advice.
But there's one requirement that is nonnegotiable: Any viable candidate for president needs to be able to care about us.
And, frankly, I don't know if this president is capable of it.Robin is a licensed psychotherapist and a recovering liberal in Berkeley.