The 2016 Netflix film “Barry,” starring Devon Terrell, attempted to dramatize the experience of Barack Obama at Columbia University in the early 1980s, even though Clinton factotum George Stephanopoulos, one year ahead, and Matthew Cooper of Newsweek, a year behind, had no memory of the future president there. On that score, the pair had plenty of company.
Wayne Allyn Root, the Libertarian Party candidate for vice-president in 2008, was in Obama’s 1983 Columbia political science and pre-law class, the identical course of study, and graduated on the same day. As Root told Matt Welch of Reason, he “never met him in my life, don’t know anyone who ever met him.”
In similar style, class of ’83 Columbia grads included a group of 25 lawyers, a doctor, several engineers and other professionals living in Israel. “Not one of us remembers Barack Obama . . . from our undergrad years, nor do we know anyone else who does,” explained Judy Maltz.
By contrast, most Americans and people around the world abound in memories of Barack Obama as president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world. His proclamation, “if you like your health plan you can keep it,” got plenty of attention when it turned out to be untrue. He also proclaimed his administration was scandal-free, despite the IRS targeting conservatives, despite “Fast and Furious,” and other dirty deeds the press refused to cover or deliberately downplayed.
Those include “Midyear Exam,” the exoneration of Hillary Clinton, and “Crossfire Hurricane,” the commandeering of U.S. intelligence agencies to target candidate and now President Trump. That one is still unfolding, but there is a better way to recall the 44th president of the United States, formerly known as Barry Soetoro, as in the eponymous movie.
On November 5, 2009, at Ford Hood, Texas, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, began gunning down unarmed U.S. soldiers, including Francheska Velez, a 21-year-old private from Chicago who pleaded for the life of her baby. Hasan shot her in the chest and her unborn child perished with the mother.
The Muslim major, a self-described “soldier of Allah” yelling “Allahu akbar” as he fired, killed two other women that day along with 10 men—more than twice as many victims as the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The Fort Hood massacre was also the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001, but that was not how President Obama described it.
In his mind, the Fort Hood mass murder was not terrorism or even gun violence. For the president of the United States, it was “workplace violence,” an absurdity for the ages that rendered Hasan’s victims ineligible for the medical treatment and medals they deserved. Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who took seven bullets, sought just 10 minutes to tell President Obama how the government mistreated the Fort Hood victims but the White House declined his request.
In March 2010, the president urged Congress to hold off on any investigation of the Fort Hood “terrible tragedy” and even referred to “the alleged gunman.” Two years later, it emerged that the attack could have been prevented. As a 2012 congressional hearing revealed, Hasan openly communicated with terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki, telling him in an email “Please keep me in your Rolodex in case you find me useful, and please feel free to call me collect.” Under FBI Director Robert Mueller “the case was dropped until November 5, when the media began circulating reports of the massacre.”
In 2013, Hasan faced trial for 13 counts of premeditated murder, 32 counts of attempted murder, and was sentenced to death. The soldier of Allah showed no remorse and at Leavenworth became an enthusiastic supporter of the Islamic State, which President Obama called a “JV team.” That president did not carry out the death sentence on Nidal Hasan. Neither has the current president, Donald Trump. But conditions are now favorable.
President Trump has just mounted a successful raid to take out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the lead terrorist of ISIS, at his compound in Syria. Convicted Islamic terrorist murderer Nidal Hasan, on the other hand, is already in custody and sentenced to death. The soldier of Allah shot Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, in the abdomen, Army Specialist Jason Hunt in the back. Hasan shot Private Kham See Xiong, unarmed like all the others, in the head.
When the shooting started, Captain John Gaffaney of the 1908th Medical Detachment charged Hasan and drew within inches of the shooter before taking a bullet. Army reservist Kathy Platoni was at Gaffaney’s side when he bled to death. In 2013, Platoni went on record that Hasan “doesn’t deserve to live,” adding, “I don’t know how long it takes for a death sentence to be carried out, but the world will be a better place without him.”
That is something for President Trump to ponder, and as he likes to say, we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, President Obama has inked a deal with Netflix and more hagiographical biopics are surely in the works. None is likely to show Obama disgracefully proclaiming the Fort Hood massacre “workplace violence,” but if the survivors remember him that way, it certainly would be hard to blame them.