Now that it has been established that a candidate's teenage years help define the man to come, it might be time to take a new look at the adolescent Obama and his then-mentor, the late Frank Marshall Davis.
I would guess that not one Obama voter out of one hundred could identify Davis by name, and I doubt if one media person out of a thousand has read his memoir, Livin' the Blues. This is unfortunate on any number of levels. For one, Davis's book captures the ebb and flow of 20th-century black American life as well as any ever written.
For another, no one individual influenced the young Obama more than Davis has. This combination should have made Davis a staple of the multicultural canon and a pin-up in every reporter's cubicle, but it did neither. Like Boo Radley, Davis remains in the shadows for one reason: the media fear what the light would do to him. For all of Davis's gifts, and they are many, his lifelong flirtation with darkness makes him a little too creepy for his own display case in the Barack Obama presidential library.