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Obama to Visit Dying Grandmother

Barack Obama with his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at his high school graduation in 1979. (Photo: Obama for America, via Associated Press)

Barack Obama with his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at his high school graduation in 1979. (Photo: Obama for America, via Associated Press)

Sad news this morning:  Barack Obama’s 85-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, is “gravely ill.”  She “all but raised” him, so it’s an especially devastating situation for Obama.

He’s canceled his Friday campaign stops and is flying to Honolulu Thursday afternoon to see her, and planning to fly back Friday evening and resume campaigning Saturday.  NYT’s Michael Powell says the whole trip will be “more than 36 hours.”  Given that a flight from Indianapolis to Honolulu takes 14-1/2 hours, or 29 hours for the round trip, that’s not much time with his grandmother.

That’s the price of running for president, I guess.  It’s a high one.

Powell writes,

To leave the trail at this juncture, when the bell lap is upon both Mr. Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, carries an element of risk. Mr. Obama is running ahead in every national poll, but his lead in some recent polls is not large.

But Mr. Obama has little family left. His father and mother are dead, along with his grandfather, Stanley Dunham. His grandmother raised him for many years, while his mother lived in Indonesia.

Somehow, I don’t think taking a few hours to say goodbye to his grandmother will hurt his campaign. He’ll likely come to regret taking so little time. The demands of public life at this level, though, leave little time to take care of personal needs.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Obama to Visit Dying Grandmother: Barack Obama with his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at his high school g.. http://tinyurl.com/6hgk4e

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  2. DC Loser says:

    I don’t think it’s partisan to give our best wishes to Senator Obama and his family and wishes that his grandmother will live long enough to see the results of the election.

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  3. Derrick says:

    Best wishes to Obama and his family. Hopefully people can put down their political swords and not make an issue of a sad situation. It’s bad enough to have such little family left, but the prospect of being close to such an accomplishment and the possibility of not getting to enjoy it with her by a week or so has to be bittersweet.

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  4. There is an old saying that life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. I wish them the best in what must be a difficult time under any circumstances.

    Chicago to Honolulu on a commercial carrier commercial can be as little as about 10 and 1/2 hours with a stop in Denver. Since Senator Obama has his own plane, it shouldn’t take 14 and a half hours each way. Presumably he won’t have to deal with TSA and the normal built in hurry up and wait scenarios that the rest of us do as well. Small consolation, but hopefully he has a few more hours than anticipated.

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  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Politics are politics but family is something much more to a man. My sympathies to Barak Obama and his family who are enduring a trying time.

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  6. davod says:

    This is the October surprise.

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  7. DC Loser says:

    Is this Davod’s lame attempt at humor?

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  8. DC Loser says:

    Another observation of Obama’s grandparents.

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  9. sam says:

    @ davod

    This is the October surprise.

    Asshole.

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  10. Bithead says:

    This is the October surprise.

    Asshole.

    I dunno, Sam.

    Look, I wish them both well, but from a purely objective POV, Davod may have a point. After all, Obama has been spending money at a rate of 4 to one over McCain, by some reports, and yet the best he can manage popularity wise, is numbers that are best described as a tie. Some would define that as a rather fragile lead.

    So, while unarguably this event is tough for all concerned, it does knock Obama off the stump for a couple of days at least, at a time when he can least afford that time, and may in fact have the (numeric) effect of an October surprise. This may be a reasonable excuse for a loss, too.

    OTOH, and arguably, this could give Obama something he hasn’t had before… a reason to be seen as a sympathetic figure, and may thereby benefit him in the polls. Look at your own defensive knee-jerk reaction as an example.

    I guess it all depends on the timing.

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  11. sam says:

    I dunno, Sam.

    Oh for Christ’s sake, Bit. Look, I agree with you about 1% of the time, but I’ve always thought that, even at your most partisan, you do have integrity. Don’t force me to give up that opinion.
    “Defensive knee-jerk reaction” — Jesus.

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  12. Bithead says:

    Thanks for reinforcing my point, Sam.

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  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    Oh for Christ’s sake, Bit. Look, I agree with you about 1% of the time, but I’ve always thought that, even at your most partisan, you do have integrity. Don’t force me to give up that opinion.
    “Defensive knee-jerk reaction” — Jesus.

    Maybe should pray in his name for 0bma’s Grandmother instead of taking it in vain Sam.

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  14. Bithead says:

    Perhaps we’d do better if you’d describe exactly what your problem with my comments is, Sam.
    Would you mind?

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  15. DC Loser says:

    Since we’re doing the loony tin foil theory here, we can discuss whether McCain is the Manchurian (or Tonkinese) candidate. I mean, who knew about what kind of brain washing he got over there?

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