The Wall Street Journal today editorializes about Senator Obama’s reticence regarding his time at Columbia University. Although he has, as someone or other recently pointed out, written two autobiographical books, he has paid scant attention to the years spent on Morningside Heights.
The Columbia years are a hole in the sprawling Obama hagiography. In his two published memoirs, the 47-year-old Democratic nominee barely mentions his experience there. He refuses to answer questions about Columbia and New York — which, in this media age, serves only to raise more of them. Why not release his Columbia transcript? Why has his senior essay gone missing?
These forbidden fruits usually turn out to be more tantalizing than tasty. Hillary Rodham’s Wellesley Senior Thesis turned out to be somewhat less than a Rosetta Stone for her suspected radicalism. But for someone like Senator Obama, whose remarkable life story is itself a weight-bearing pillar (or, at the very least, a flying buttress) of his candidacy, the details —along with any devils that might lie therein — become of especial interest.
Voters and the media are now exercising due diligence before Election Day, and they are meeting resistance from Mr. Obama in checking his past. Earlier this year, the AP tracked down Mr. Obama’s New York-era roommate, “Sadik,” in Seattle after the campaign refused to reveal his name. Sohale Siddiqi, his real name, confirmed Mr. Obama’s account that he turned serious in New York and “stopped getting high.” “We were both very lost,” Mr. Siddiqi said. “We were both alienated, although he might not put it that way. He arrived disheveled and without a place to stay.” For some reason the Obama camp wanted this to stay out of public view.
Such caginess is grist for speculation. Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference. Yet he later graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, so he knows how to get good grades. Others speculate about ties to the Black Students Organization, though students active then don’t seem to remember him. And on the far reaches of the Web can be found conspiracies about former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who became the candidate’s “guru and controller” while at Columbia in the early 1980s. Mr. Brzezinski laughs, and tells us he doesn’t “remember meeting him.”
What can be said with some certainty is that Mr. Obama lived off campus while at Columbia in 1981-83 and made few friends. Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him.