Kristen Caldwell

(Text only) She grew up and attended Punahou School with "Barry" Obama. She recalls how as a young child, Obama alternatively told classmates he was an Indonesian prince or Kenyan royalty. Caldwell also recounts how a young Obama reacted to a disturbing racial comment from a tennis pro. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on June 27, 2012.

(Text only) She grew up and attended Punahou School with "Barry" Obama. She recalls how as a young child, Obama alternatively told classmates he was an Indonesian prince or Kenyan royalty. Caldwell also recounts how a young Obama reacted to a disturbing racial comment from a tennis pro. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on June 27, 2012.

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    Describe where you went to school and what it was like and what it looked like, and the time that you spent there.

    I went to Punahou School in Honolulu. I was there from kindergarten starting in 1966 through high school, graduating in 1979, along with the president. It's an amazing school. It's well known academically and athletically. It's a beautiful campus in Manoa. It's on a hill. ...

    Tell me a little bit about the reputation. What's the reputation of the school?

    I guess that really depends who you talk to. I think a fair assessment is that it is a very strong school academically and athletically. You'll hear it referred to I think by some people as the rich-kid haole school, you know, white-kid school, haole slang for Caucasian in Hawaii. It really means foreigner, but --

    But it wasn't that.

    But it really isn't. Exactly, exactly. I think I was one of two Caucasians in my senior calculus class, actually in that class one of two women. She was the other Caucasian, in fact. But a lot of people with different backgrounds. Hawaii has a lot of different backgrounds from influxes -- Chinese, Japanese, Filipino -- over the years. So my best friend in kindergarten and first grade, one was Japanese, one was Japanese Okinawan and Caucasian. My best friend in seventh, eighth and ninth grade, part Hawaiian Caucasian, 10 through 12 Hawaiian Chinese Caucasian. So we had a lot of mixture. ...

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    Growing Up Hawaiian
    'He told us his father was an Indonesian king and... he was a prince'

    So what do we know about Obama and his background? He wasn't rich. Would he have needed help? How did he fit into this --

    My understanding is that Barry -- and that's what we called him, so I'm not meaning to be disrespectful, but I'm going likely to refer to him as Barry for the most part. My understanding is that Barry was on a scholarship. And a lot of times if you're on scholarship you had to do some work at the school. You worked in the snack bar.

    My father told me -- and I didn't know it at the time -- that Barry did some work at the tennis courts. We all did work at the tennis courts, those of us who hung out there. So it wasn't unusual when the tennis pro would ask me, "Go and walk courts 1 and 2," and that sort of thing, because he would ask any of us to do that. So I wasn't aware of that.

    When I first met Barry, when he showed up I think it was the summer before fifth grade, he was hanging out at the tennis courts. And at the time that was the very Wimbledon-like, where everyone had to wear white clothes and white tennis shoes. Very careful about the soles of the shoes because you didn't want to scuff up the courts, mark them up.

    So yeah, I can picture him as this slightly -- "chubby" is too strong, but rounded, short little guy, Barry Obama. And he told us that his father was an Indonesian king and that he was a prince, and after he finished school he was going to go back, and he would be a ruler in Indonesia. And I absolutely believed him.

    I understand that he told his fifth-grade class that he was Kenyan royalty, but I never heard that story until years later. My sister and I remember very clearly that he was an Indonesian prince and that he would be going back there. So there was some reference to where he had come from, and the understanding was his family was there.

    I didn't know who he lived with at the time. I since know that it was his grandparents. I knew where he lived, because a lot of times if it rained, my dad would give him a ride home from the tennis courts, because we would hang out after school. In the summers we'd hang out at the tennis courts; after school we would hang out at the tennis courts. That's what we did. And that's what Barry did pretty much from fifth through eighth grade. And I think after he leaned up and grew and got into basketball, he shifted away from tennis.

    The Indonesian story and stuff, what was your take on that? What do you think he was doing? Why did he need to do that?

    I can only imagine now, a 10-year-old leaving his mother and stepfather and at that point I think baby stepsister. So he lived in Hawaii from when he was born until he was 6, lived in Indonesia from 6 to 10. Arriving in Hawaii -- again, having not been there -- I would think he would have felt very, very fish-out-of-water, very uncomfortable, and like anybody, he'd have to have a little bit of bravado to mask the insecurities. So I think that was the prince story.

    Did he have the bravado? Did he have this confidence? Did you see something, do you remember, way back when you first met him that this guy seemed to have something that other people didn't have?

    You know, a lot of people say, "Wow, yes, I saw that he was going to be president." ... To me he was a normal kid. But to be fair, probably no kid at Punahou is really a normal kid. So he didn't seem outstanding academically or athletically or any other way. To me he seemed normal. But I was surrounded by very bright, very articulate, athletic, academically inclined kids. So, I mean, you didn't get to go to Punahou if you weren't smart and didn't have a lot of capabilities.

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    Growing Up Hawaiian
    Why Hawaii is important to understanding Obama

    You started talking about how Michelle had said it, that, if you don't understand where he comes from, if you don't understand that he comes from Hawaii, you don't get Obama, because it's so unbelievably important to understand the guy. What does she mean by that? What are your thoughts about that?

    Well, I think what she means, we're incredibly lucky, those of us who grew up in Hawaii, to be exposed to so many different people, so many different racial heritages, so many different combinations. And that's just normal and cool. ...

    There's a rich cultural heritage of the islands themselves. And we have two Hawaiian words I'm going to use -- ina, which means the land, but it's almost more than the land. In wine they would say terroir. It's more than just the soil; it's more than just the land. It's a sense of --[if] you saw the movie The Descendants, there's a sense of responsibility for and oneness with the islands I think. It really gets in your blood.

    And the other is ohana, which means family. There's a strong sense of ohana. And family in Hawaii always means extended family. You talk about your "calabash cousins," and what that means is kids you grew up with and of the same calabash, the same pot basically, whether that was literal or not -- it could be -- but that your families were close, that they'd known each other a long time, that you hung out together.

    In those early years, Barry was certainly a calabash cousin, not because our families had known each other forever, but because he had the same calabash.

    How does it define Obama?

    Well, I think it gives him early exposure to a lot of different cultures and a lot of different people, and a comfort, an ease with them. I think there's an understanding and appreciation for people being able to be different, but we can still have understanding and get along. As well as our differences, we have many similarities: looking for common ground; having a sense of stewardship for the land. I think certainly having a real sense of community I think would be the ohana idea. ...

    But basically you can tell, if you had never met him before, you kind of know that if you just looked at Obama that this is a guy that grew up in Hawaii?

    I'd love to say that, yes, but I can't say that. He's got this new accent now, this whole Chicago thing.

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    Obama and Race
    Growing up 'hapa haole'

    Hapa is a term. What is hapa, and what does it mean for growing up hapa in Hawaii? How does that help them maybe define some of what Obama went through?

    So hapa means half, and it's slang for half something or part something, so typically if somebody's hapa haole, which means you're part Caucasian, part something else. And as I said earlier, that's kind of a cool thing to be, hapa haole, because you've got a better tan and tend to be better-looking, I think.

    So for Barry it's a little bit different. I mentioned that we have a lot of different races, racial backgrounds in Hawaii. We didn't, and I think still don't, have many blacks. And many of the blacks were there from the military, because we do have a number of military bases on the island. So there wasn't quite the same familiarity I think with blacks with some of the -- we had some Indians, India Indians, but not a lot. We had back then not many Vietnamese, a few Koreans. So we had many, many Asians, but not all represented at the time. I think now there are obviously a lot more of everybody there, and I think as well more blacks.

    So we didn't have a lot of blacks in Hawaii, and we didn't have a lot of blacks at Punahou.

    Could you tell it affected him in a way, that he needed to sort of search out an identity; that maybe he felt somewhat awkward, that he was dealing with something about being slightly different in a place where everybody was slightly different, but he was slightly different in a different way? Could you see it in him, in that he had some stuff to deal with?

    In hindsight, absolutely; at the time, no, I didn't have any idea. I'm sure I was more caught up in my own identity issues, like any kid is trying to find himself. But you're right. Not every kid has the differences that he had.

    I think part of the reason that he came up with being an Indonesian prince or a Kenyan prince to his fifth-grade class was sort of that sense of OK, I feel a little different, so I'd better be something a little fancier, because it was a fancy school. So while not everyone there was wealthy, and not everyone there was Caucasian, despite the reputation, there were a lot of wealthy people at the school. I mean, in high school, an awful lot of kids had their own cars, which I didn't. I'm pretty sure Barry didn't.

    But some kids, families went on ski trips over Christmas. You know, a lot of people traveled. People had been places. I had never been anywhere. I hadn't been out of the islands until I was 10. The farthest east I'd ever been was Los Angeles all the way through high school and into college. So it was a little bit different, different worlds.

    But I do think a lot of times you could feel -- I certainly did -- like a little bit of a second-class citizen if you didn't have a lot, because there were children at the school who had a lot of designer clothes, whose father was the president of the bank, doctors, politicians, some very influential people.

    Where did he live?

    So it was off campus, but not too far from campus. So typically he would walk home. But as I mentioned, in the younger grades, when we were at the tennis courts late, if it was raining a lot of times my dad would come pick my sister and me up and would drop him off at home, so you didn't have to walk home in the rain.

    Did he live in a big house or a cottage?

    No, he lived in an apartment, an apartment building. I've never been in the apartment. I know now that he was living with his grandparents there, but it never came up. And it's funny that I never thought to ask, when he had said that his family was in Indonesia and he was just coming here for school, who he lived with. It didn't even cross my mind to ask.

    So he never talked about his grandparents.

    Not to me. I know a lot of my classmates in high school went over to his grandparents' house and were very comfortable with them and hung out there, but I didn't.

    Talk just a little bit more about hanging out at the tennis club and stuff. You guys would all gather. What was that like? How was he in those situations?

    Normal kid, decent tennis player. We all played in tournaments. Now, to be fair, that was kind of the boom years for tennis, the early '70s. I would say all the '70s were a pretty big time for tennis across the country. So we played competitively. We played tournaments. But the level of tennis in Hawaii at that time didn't reach the level of say, Northern California [did], which was pretty much a tennis powerhouse.

    I know one -- Nial Brash was a very good player, a little bit older than we were. Nial's mom actually sent him to California. He was a good player that was sent to California to go to school for his tennis and then moved here. So we were good for Hawaii, which meant we were OK for the mainland.

    So how did Obama do sports? How did it seem? Some people use sports in different ways. Some people are just great and talented, and they excel in it. Some people depend upon it to identify themselves. How did Obama view the sports that he played?

    To be honest, I don't know. Clearly he seemed to thrive with basketball on a number of levels. We've read about that. But from my personal experience, he just played. We were just kids who played tennis. We were competitive, played as well as we could. We did a lot of other things here on the tennis courts. You couldn't play for five hours in a row. So we played cards, Hearts, probably Spades, Three-Man Trump, you know, depending on how many people you had.

    You'd hang out there, do homework, get into trouble -- not bad trouble, but you raised your voice so you got in trouble because you might be bothering another court, that kind of thing.

    Was he competitive? Was he a team player? What kind of a sportsperson was he?

    I think he was very competitive. I mean, I think everyone wants to win. He wasn't a bad sport or anything. He just played to play, played to win. And I don't remember how he did specifically. I know well enough to advance in tournaments. He wasn't ever ranked first in the state, but I'm sure that he got through some rounds.

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    An ugly racial incident

    Let's do the tennis tournament, the draw sheets. Take us to that story, and tell us in as much detail as you can.

    Well, the junior tournament's in Hawaii. When the draw was posted, everyone would go over to see, OK, who do I play in the first round? Where am I in the draw? Who's seeded? When might I meet them? And as kids, as anybody does, I think -- people do it now with NCAA basketball, right? -- you look at the draw, and you say OK, if I win this match, that person will probably win; I'll probably play them. And you're never supposed to look out farther because you have to focus on the match you're about to play, right? But you always do, and you anticipate.

    So we were at Punahou tennis courts. The draw was posted. I think it was for the Dillingham Juniors. Could have been for the Hawaii sectional juniors; they were both played at Punahou at the time. And we were all looking for our names on the draw, and Barry included. And the tennis pro came over, and he said to Barry, "Don't touch that; you'll get it dirty." And there was something in his tone that horrified me, because it was clear that he didn't mean, "Oh, your hands are grubby," which he would have ragged at any of us for that. It was clear that he meant you're black; you're going to come off on the draw sheet, of course pristine white posted draw sheet.

    And we were young, and you're not supposed to talk back. I'd like to think that if something like that happened today, I would stand up for my friend and say, "Wow, that was completely uncalled for." But I think we were probably 11. And I mean, I could tell it upset Barry, but I have to say, again in hindsight, he was actually very cool in how he responded, because he didn't talk back, but he stuck up for himself. He said, "What do you mean by that?"

    And the pro sort of [shrugged] a little bit and said: "Nothing. I was making a joke." But it wasn't funny. And there certainly was an overtone of that. To be fair, it wasn't just because he was black. The pro could be that way with a lot of different people. And he was originally a tennis pro from the mainland, from Oakland, Calif. So I think he probably came with some biases for that.

    But that was -- I remember reading Barry's Dreams [From] My Father book, and first thinking, what the heck? I don't know about all this racism; that wasn't so. We grew up in Hawaii; people are very accepting and accommodating of different races. The only thing I remember is that incident that happened with a draw sheet. And then lo and behold, oh, my gosh, there it is. And I do remember it. My mother remembers it. And it was upsetting.

    So I later thought OK, I don't know what his experience was; it was his experience. So I don't know how many of those instances a, he experienced, and b, he felt, right, so how much of feeling picked on. Another one of our classmates who was black ended up leaving Punahou I think after ninth grade. I remember people used to call her "Aunt Jemima." I mean, really.

    And that was upsetting. On the other hand, kids used to call me some kind of crummy stuff, too -- Kristy Deville, after Cruella Deville. I did not like that. They sang the song and everything, right? So it's hard to say how much is kids being hard on other kids as a normal thing and how much of it is specifically being hard on each other because of their background.

    However, I think if you have a different background, obviously you're going to see it that way.

    One of the things you said, though, that I thought was very interesting and key to the understanding of this is that "some of our innocence kind of disappeared there." What do you mean? How do you think that affected you guys in a way?

    The fact that the way the pro said it made me realize he was picking on Barry for being black, and I wasn't used to that. I wasn't used to people being picked on because of their race. Pick on them for their personality, pick on them for other things. And it shocked me. And I do think that was sort of a "Whoa." It was different. It stopped me in my tracks, and it made me more aware of a certain ugliness I guess that I hadn't really felt or lived with before.

    A little loss of innocence.

    Absolutely. ...There's a naivete of everyone gets along, right? And people may tease me and call me "Shark Bait" because of Orca, because I've got pale skin, but I never felt it was really a racist thing, whereas that remark really did feel that way.

    I really don't know how [else] to say it than it certainly was a loss of innocence, an unpleasant reality slap in the face perhaps.

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    He's renowned [for] having a cool head. What's the Hawaiian expression? Was he always sort of cool in [any] situation, no matter what? Was there something different about him in that way?

    I think he was. In that particular instance, I think he handled that amazingly for an 11-, 12-year-old kid in just saying, "What did you mean by that?," with just a perfect amount of iciness to get his point across without, as I said, talking back to his elder. But in general, to me, Barry was Barry. He was a normal kid. He joshed with you; he teased you; certainly picked on you, but not in a bullying way, more in a humorous back-and-forth sort of way.

    I didn't see this great thinker, orator, cool under pressure. And I think to a large degree, as he matured, he developed that, right, as anyone does. You learn more; you're exposed to more. You go away to college. He had both the blessing and the curse of having traveled quite a bit when he was younger as well. Some of us had not done that.

    But yeah, I think he certainly bloomed, blossomed. I guess what I'd say is when I watched his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and we all knew he was going to talk, so I recorded it on my VCR, and wow, I was so impressed and excited. And my sister -- I come from a long line of [rock-ribbed] Republicans, very hard-core Republicans. My sister called me up, and she said: "Oh, my God, did you see Barry? He was amazing."

    "There are no red states and blue states, the United States." It was fantastic. And it was. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. And not just because, wow, he was an amazing orator and he had wonderful words that he said, but because I knew he meant it. And he articulated how I feel, very proud of the United States of America, very much want us to come together and work together, figure out our differences, which really shouldn't be that great. And it was so exciting to hear him articulate what I think so many of us feel, and have it be somebody we knew. Wow, how cool is that, right? That's that punk kid I used to play tennis with.

    And he's a grown man, and he's thoughtful and smart and well-spoken and a dynamo. I got all excited and compared him to -- don't laugh -- President Bartlet on The West Wing. I thought, yeah, this is it. Here's somebody who gets it. Education is important. I have no kids. I don't begrudge any of my property tax money that goes to my schools, the schools in my neighborhood.

    I believe -- and of course I have the luxury of having gone to Punahou, which was an amazing opportunity, and I always say, "Wow!" I thank my parents, even now, you know, "Thank you for sacrificing," which they did, so that we could go to Punahou, because no one can ever take that away from me. I have this fantastic education. I have this base from which to draw.

    What's important to Barry, what I think is important to me, education, bring together, for example, religions. In my world, the United States of America was founded on freedom of religion. I've actually had people tell me: "No, that's not true. It's the freedom to practice Christianity." And that's not my understanding of the rules. And that's not how I want it to be.

    I don't want to impose my beliefs on someone else, just as I don't want them to impose theirs on mine. I'm excited to be exposed to what other people think. I think that's neat. I think it can give me better ideas. One cool thing about our Asian history class in 10th grade, we had this incredible teacher, Peter Powlison, who loved Asian history, and was so enthusiastic that you couldn't help but get enthusiastic about the topic.

    I can still quote some dynasties to you, you know, which in China -- OK, sorry, but why would I really care? But he was that enthusiastic. Being exposed in that class to some of the tenets of Daoism and Buddhism, I thought yeah, OK, that makes a lot of sense. And I guess it's sort of like when you study mythology, and you look at Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Norse mythology, certainly Hawaiian mythology, and you see how many similarities there are among the stories that they tell.

    Obviously if they're not near the volcano, they're not going to have the Pele, the volcano goddess. But there are so many similarities across the world, across cultures. Fundamentally I think it's important, again, not only just within the United States but around the world to have an appreciation for other cultures.

    And that was another thing that excited me about having Barack Obama as a candidate back in 2008 was that I thought he would have a good appreciation and understanding of, OK, his father was from Kenya; his stepfather was from Indonesia; he had lived in Indonesia for a little while. He had exposure to more places, and I thought frankly, that it could give United States a little more credibility in the world community because he had that experience, because he wasn't a middle-aged white male.

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    I know you didn't know him that well afterward, but what was the reputation of Barry as he hit the high school years and stuff? He changes. I mean, some of his teachers will talk about he was taking on a different kind of swagger. He grew a 'fro; he was taking on more of a black identity. How did he change over the years? He plays basketball, and he's on the team at the end in senior year. What was his rep within the school? How did you view him?

    Well, so as far as the afro, forever, when he signed yearbooks -- I mean, starting in fifth grade, and we had yearbooks every year -- he drew a little afro over the "O" in Obama. So I don't think that particularly changed. Yes, his hair grew a little bit longer, and he did have more of a 'fro. He might have been copying his older friend, Keith Kakugawa, a little bit with that. Keith had graduated a couple of years before us. I don't know.

    He was a decent student. He was a decent athlete. He was a decent guy. I think he was well liked. But he wasn't a big man on campus. He didn't run for student government or anything. He did do some writing for the -- we had a literary magazine that we put out a couple of times a year. I was one of the editors of the school paper, which we put out I think every week. Might have been every two weeks.

    And I also wrote a little bit for the Ka Wai Ola, a literary magazine. So that wasn't unusual. He sang so that he was in the -- Again, I don't remember if it was the [40:29] or not, but he was in one of the better singing groups. But he was sort of normal.

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    The Choom Gang
    The Choom Gang's reputation

    Did he get in trouble? Was he known as a troublemaker ever? I mean, there's all the stories about the Choom Gang and stuff. How do you view that? Was that sort of a search for a kid? We all go through those years, a search and making some trouble here and there, or searching for identity, or smoking too much dope, all that sort of stuff?

    Well, to be fair, in the 1970s in Hawaii, marijuana was very available. A lot of kids smoked dope, even Punahou kids. And some smoked it so much that they ended up getting kicked out of school because it impacted their studies or they got caught. And obviously yeah, you would get in trouble if you got caught.

    I'm not aware of Barry ever getting caught. I'm not aware of it having impacted his studies. Perhaps he would have been an amazing student. If you look at our high school program, the senior year graduation program, commencement, it has everybody's names, and it has -- you have an asterisk or a little plus next to you if you graduated with honors, or if you got the President's Award, and Barry doesn't have either one. And that's not a bad thing. Everybody was smart. Everybody was capable. It is a little amusing in hindsight that he didn't get the President's Award, since he's the president. But that was an award that you were nominated [for] by your classmates and ultimately picked by your teachers, so you sort of had to be something extra.

    And I think people who got the President's Award were considered pretty special. I think that Barry really found himself and his stride, I would say, later, I would say after Punahou. And I do know from his book, obviously, that he went through a lot of self-discovery and trying to figure himself out more then.

    I'm glad that he did.

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    The Choom Gang

    Was the Choom Gang a thing that was known, a group? Or was it just a thing among themselves...?

    I think for the most part it was among themselves. I mean, they had their name. I certainly knew what the word meant, choom, toke. You know, it was another expression. I had never heard it anywhere outside of Hawaii, but it didn't originate with that group of guys.

    I knew all of those guys who were in the Choom Gang. I didn't know they were on the Choom Gang. Many of them mention it in their senior section of the [Punahou] yearbook. And certainly now they've gotten a lot of attention.

    But no, I wasn't aware of it. It doesn't surprise me that people were smoking dope, but I wasn't aware of this sort of en masse group. Everybody knew -- not everybody -- I think most people knew that a lot of kids went over to the Makiki Pumping Station and got high. And a lot of people would sneak out from Bing Mall to go across the street, because you certainly weren't going to do it all on campus to get high.

    Another tennis-playing kid -- I think he appeared around the tennis courts right around the summer after eighth grade and started at Punahou at ninth grade, ended up getting kicked out of Punahou because he got into dope and got carried away with it. That was nowhere near what Barry was involved [in].

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    Growing Up Hawaiian

    Were there any other examples of struggling that you can remember, anything else that you ever saw in him that showed that this kid -- that life wasn't all peaches and roses? He came from a difficult situation. I mean, it's not everybody that you know your father walks away from you when you're a baby, and your mom, though you love her dearly, is not around a lot.

    And engrossed with her studies and research. Yeah, so honestly, I wasn't aware of it. I think it had to be tremendously difficult. And living with his grandparents who were his mama's parents. So here he is with dark skin living with, you know, older Caucasian people. I've read people saying, "Oh, well, his grandmother was a mucky-muck at the bank," but she worked her way up. And I don't think they had a lot.

    And apologies to any bankers out there, vice president at a bank tends to be a fairly ubiquitous title. It's not necessarily as significant perhaps as vice president of another kind of a company. So I really wasn't aware of any great struggles other than, as I say, everyone has a little bit of swagger, a little bit of bravado unless they're cringing and hiding in the corner. People I think respond to insecurity in different ways.

    The bottom line is, it wasn't always an idealistic life in paradise.

    Oh, absolutely not. Yeah, I know a lot of people think of Hawaii, "Oh, yeah, that's where we go on vacation, and it's a paradise." Or they think, oh, I could never live there because it's a rock and you'd be just enclosed in a small place. But it's actually a pretty big world, especially when you don't know anything different. You've got mountains; you've got ocean; you've got symphony, theater.

    But no, it's not idyllic and paradise. It's like growing up anywhere else, and yet it's not like growing up anywhere else. So as far as being a kid and trying to find your way and figure out who you are, completely normal I think wherever you live.

    As far as having this wonderful, special place to live, that means so much to people. Even so, I moved to California in 1979 after we graduated. Went to college here and have stayed here to work, but I still call Hawaii home. It is home. It's in your blood. It's in your very sense.

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    Last question. Some people [say] -- and the [David] Maraniss book sort of talks about [this] -- that Obama was really good at never getting trapped, and that he was always trying to maneuver around traps. And to some extent maybe Hawaii in his head was viewed as a trap because he couldn't achieve the things he wanted to achieve. Do you think there's any truth to that? Here's a guy who needed to achieve certain things always. There was some sort of a future that in the back of his head was pushing him forward. And to achieve that, one of the things he had to do was he had to lose Hawaii; he had lose the concerns that he had there, and he had to move onto the bigger world. What's your take on that?

    Well, it would have been tough to be a state senator from Hawaii, because senators there have been in place for a really, really, really long time. Escaping Hawaii? I don't know about that. Cost of living in Hawaii is very high. Limited number of jobs. I mean, it is a tough place. I think that's why so many of us who came to school on the mainland have stayed on the mainland even though, as I said, we still think of Hawaii as home.

    Perhaps for Barry, especially when he started finding his inner Barack, as it were, perhaps he did feel that he needed to get away, to find more people he felt a kinship with. Obviously he found Michelle, very happy. I think he probably considers Illinois home now. And yet he does still go back to Hawaii every year. And it's not just because oh, I can go body-surfing there. I need a little shave ice. I'm pretty sure he could get a shave ice machine in the White House.

    But there is a draw. There is something about Hawaii that is meaningful. It means something to live there, to be from there. So I don't know. I mean, it wouldn't surprise me if he went back to live at some point. But it also wouldn't surprise me if he just ended up settling in Illinois after he finishes up in Washington, D.C., because he does have now a history there and family there as well.

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