Obama's mentor at Occidental College speaks

Lawrence Goldyn, Barack Obama's mentor during his freshman and sophomore years at Occidental College, speaks out about the young Obama in an interview with The Southern Voice, a gay newspaper in Atlanta. He provides some helpful context in understanding the political and academic development of Barack Obama.

A very big part of Lawrence Goldyn's life as a junior professor of political science seems to have involved his homosexuality. He designed and taught a course on sexual politics, mentored gay students (and some heterosexuals like Obama), and attributes denial of tenure at Occidental in 1981 to perceptions of him as a radical. The article by  Lou Chibarro, Jr reports:

His reputation for holding out-of-class discussions with students attracted a number of straight students, Goldyn said. He noted that many of those students who gravitated toward him were older black and Latino students who were interested in his strong views on social issues and racial politics.

Goldyn said Obama stood out, though, by participating in the discussions as a freshman or sophomore.

"He was younger, and coming to a somewhat elite, private college ... I am sure he felt like a fish out of water, and he had every reason to feel insecure about himself in a place like that," Goldyn said.

Obama appears to have been undergoing a political radicalization during these two years.

[As] the New York Times reported in February 2008 that several of Obama's fellow Occidental students saw the young Obama grow increasingly interested in politics, particularly in his sophomore year. [....]

"He wasn't a very serious student yet," Goldyn said about Obama when the student arrived at Occidental. "So I felt good that I contributed to him sort of getting it together and focusing on what he wanted to do.

Goldyn does not mention whether or not he had any role in Obama's transfer to Columbia. Did he write a recommendation? Did he help Obama decide to transfer to a college with an urban setting, and a strong left wing activist presence?

But the most fascinating observation of all comes at the end, when Goldyn, an enthusiastic Obama supporter, is asked by the reporter to comment on Obama's failure to support gay marriage (he supports civil unions):

"It's very hard to put a whole coalition together, and you have to figure out a way to negotiate and navigate where he is clearly supportive of gay rights, but he cannot come out up front and say that he's in favor of marriage, because the country, I don't think, may be ready for that in an election," he said. "And I don't have a problem with that."

Here you have a man who knows, likes and supports Obama, who, like me, believes he is a phony who will say things just to appease stupid voters.  Goldyn apparently shares Obama's low opinion of ordinary people as dimwits, and approves of Obama's cleverness in lying to the rubes. Superior folk like him know better.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman