Sunday, May 8, 2011

Is Obama Jimi's love child? Cutting through the Purple Haze of another crazed 'Birther' theory

Like son ...

In Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President, Jack Cashill lays out an Obama "birther" conspiracy that, unfortunately, is way too good to be true.

According to Cashill:
President Obama is the secret love child of rock immortal Jimi Hendrix.
The evidence for this one is pretty solid. Both are African-American. Both are left handed. Both are ... did we mention African-American and left handed?

This conspiracy theory is stitched together from a reference to Hendrix and the Monterey International Pop Music Festival that Obama wrote about in Dreams From My Father. We presume the book is about Barack Hussein Obama Sr. and not Jimi's acid flashes. Within these pages, the president lets it slip that he recalls 1967 as the year Hendrix played the iconic California gig. father?

Next best thing to a confession.

Cashill also calculated that Hendrix and Ann Dunham, Obama's mother, were in the Seattle area at exactly the same time. Well, not exactly. There's not enough exactly in this one for Jimi and Ann to have hooked up and produced a normally gestated future president. But Cashill is correct. They both were there.

Dunham was a senior at Mercer Island High School in suburban Seattle. Hendrix, known in 1960 as Johnny Hendricks, was building a rep for himself in the city's club scene. In the summer of 1960, Dunham moved with her family to Honolulu. Hendrix apparently missed the flight and continued to hang in Seattle playing with his band, the Rocking Kings.

Did they get together? Who knows. But if they did, Obama likely wasn't the result. Let's cut through the Purple Haze on this one.

On August 4, 1961, after meeting and wedding the 23-year-old Obama Sr., Ann gave birth to the future president. She was three months pregnant when the couple married. She likely conceived in late November or early December, 1960 - six months after arriving in the 50th state.

The record for the longest human pregnancy belongs to one Beulah Hunter who reportedly carried daughter Penny Diana for 12 months and 10 days before finally giving birth in 1945. Penny tipped the scales at a modest 6 pounds, 15 ounces. For Hendrix to have fathered Obama, Ann needed to best Beulah's historic pregnancy by a good three months.

But maybe this is why Obama's birth weight wasn't listed on the long form birth certificate released last month by the administration? Obama may not become a two-term president. But at 15 months, he would have been just a trimester shy of becoming a two-term baby - with a birth weight roughly equal to a Shetland pony.

In September, 2010 a reference to Hendrix popped up again, this time in an off the cuff remark made by the president.

"Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time -- and they're not always happy with me - they talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks, but it's true," Obama said.

It might not have been in his prepared remarks, but it was in "Stone Free," the first song Hendrix wrote after moving to England in 1966. "They talk about me like a dog," the song says.

Coincidence or conspiracy? Or was Hendrix simply on the president's iPod playlist that morning? Now if he had quoted "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," who knows?

We can credit Hendrix with making rock music much of what it is today. But absent a medical miracle, Cashill can't seriously credit him with the making of a president. Not this one, at least.