Obama's 'Lost Year'

Barack Obama has been skillful at trying to deflect attention from slices of his life that may embarrass him or cause political problems. He has written two books and in both of them deliberately ignored his work on behalf of a weekly newsletter concerned with trading and hedging for profit. He may rail against Wall Street now (a recent ad touts that he passed up "Wall Street" jobs) but for at least a year he saw no problem promoting financial speculation for profit.

His first year out of Columbia in 1983, Obama was employed as a junior editor for Business International Corporation, a publisher based in New York. Obama edited manuscripts and wrote for a financial newsletter during his time at the firm. He mentions in his biography that there were times that he actually saw himself as a potential "captain of industry."

No wonder he has censored this year from his biography-he might offend his left-wing base. 

Cass Sunstein, his biggest booster at the University of Chicago where as a professor, he was otherwise known for his aloofness from colleagues,
goes to bat for him once again at the end of the Times article by rationalizing his year in the hedge fund publishing world (Sunstein, who married Obama's once and future foriegn policy advisor Samantha Power, is the go-to guy for journalists looking to burnish Obama's record).

While he addressed this year in his book "Dreams From My Father" in an elusive way, his account, according to those who worked at the firm, contains inaccuracies and misrepresentations (are we surprised?). Among them are Obama's boosting of his own role at the firm and a depiction of the firm that departs from reality. The company were boosters for multinationals and helped to devise strategies for eluding foreign-exchange rules in order to maximize profits. Sasha Issenberg writes in the Boston Globe:
 They were boosters for multinationals and they thought globalism was the way we should be going," Chang said.

But the publications for which Obama worked had far narrower interests. Written for bankers and financial executives, Business International's money report delivered practical, if often rarefied, advice for eluding foreign-exchange rules that often limited the ability of investors to efficiently control their assets.
"If you're just working on the technical financial points, the social implications are out of the question," said Michael Veseth, a professor of international political economy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. "You're just dealing with, 'How am I getting my money from here to there?' "

No wonder Barack Obama has given short shrift to this aspect of his career.