'The Obama Chronicles,' Part 1: A Look at Barack Obama's Parents

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In "The Obama Chronicles" segment tonight, we begin this extensive 25-part series.

Now you may have noticed that I have not called Senator Obama "Barry" or "Hussein" or have mocked him in any way at all. That's because that kind of presentation gets the country nowhere. It is bloviating at its worst.

If you are not going to vote for Obama, you should know exactly why. If you are going to vote for him, you should also know the reason. And those reasons should be based on facts.

There's far too much stupid ideology in play in America, so we've decided to give you the facts about Barack Obama in a straightforward manner. Unlike John McCain, whose life story is very well known, the senator's story has been somewhat obscured by zealots on both sides. So we begin the chronicles with a look at his parents, who shaped the man we see today.

Click here to watch Part 1 of "The Obama Chronicles."

Barack Obama was born in 1961 in Hawaii. Two years later, his father, Barack Senior, left his mother, Ann Dunham. Except for a short visit years later, the man never returned to the home. At age 6, Barack Obama's mother took him to Indonesia, where she eventually married another man. At age 10, four years later, his mother sent him back to Hawaii, where he was attended to by his grandparents. Three years later, his mother returned to Hawaii.

Joining us now from Chicago to chronicle Barack Obama's upbringing, David Mendell, author of the book "Obama: From Promise to Power."

This is a tough upbringing. You know, this reminds me of Bill Clinton's upbringing. We had the flamboyant mother and, you know, the abusive father who left the home and all kinds of craziness there. Barack Obama...


O'REILLY: Just let me set the stage here. Barack Obama had no stability in his life at all. None, for the first 13 years. Now, that has got to be a powerful influence on a boy. Go ahead.

MENDELL: Yes, I don't know if there was no stability. His grandmother and mother did try to provide some sort of stable environment through those years. But you're right that he was — he did feel a sense of parental abandonment as a child. He would tell people as an adult that he felt like an orphan in contrast to his wife sort of Ozzie and Harriet upbringing. So yes, his mother was doing field work as a cultural anthropologist overseas. She obviously had children by two different husbands, and so his life wasn't nearly as stable as, you know, your traditional family.

O'REILLY: OK. Now I just want to walk through this. You're being very kind to Barack Obama's mother, but she was a hippie. She was a hippie, OK? Because, you know, kind of a free spirit, in the '60s, wandered...


O'REILLY: Took, what, you know, decades to get her Ph.D. in some kind of carpentry thing. Very free spirit. And there's nothing wrong with that.


O'REILLY: But when you grow up without a structure, and then you're the only person, David, to speak with the grandmother, who really primarily raised Barack. So what did you learn from speaking with her?

MENDELL: Well, there were two — the mother and the grandmother were the two primary influences on his life. He's got — and they're very different personalities. His mother was this romantic dreamer. You called her a hippie. She wasn't necessarily into the drug culture, but she was a very liberal human being, a follower of like Adlai Stevenson.

So the grandmother was very different than that. She was sort of a pragmatist. She went to work for a bank as a secretary and ultimately rose through the ranks there. Through pulling her up, herself up through her own boot straps and retired as a bank vice president. She was a very pragmatic person who, when she saw someone, she kind of was leery of that person, or as Obama's mother saw that person, and kind of looked for the good in that.

So he had these two kind of different ying and yang influences coming at him, and he's sort of a mixture of both of those personalities. If you really look at him...

O'REILLY: Now what about the grandfather? He was a little unusual, too, right?

MENDELL: Right. He was like Barack's mother. He was more of a dreamer, a restless soul. He fashioned himself to be sort of a bohemian. He listened to jazz. He liked to — he kept moving the family from one part of the country west, further west, farther west, and eventually landed in Hawaii. So he was a very restless soul.

O'REILLY: All right, so...

MENDELL: It was really the grandmother who kept the family together.

O'REILLY: OK. Now that all manifested itself later as Barack Obama got into his late teen years, early 20s when he rebelled, correct?

MENDELL: Yes, he went through — certainly, he went through a period of adolescent rebellion and self-reflection. He was raised in this white family, and he was an obviously — obviously looked African-American. So that gave him sort of a curiousness about his identity.

And he — nobody in the family could really help him with that. There weren't many blacks in Hawaii. He realized he was going to move to the United States, and he tried to figure out what — he was trying to figure out what it meant to be a young black man in the United States. So, he read a lot. He read Langston Hughes and James Baldwin and these black authors, and he was searching for what it meant to be a black man...


MENDELL: ...because he hadn't experienced that.

O'REILLY: Now we have a minute left to go. You know, Barack Obama is very generous to his father in his books. And I think his father was just a cad, c-a-d, you know? And I mean, when I see a guy…

MENDELL: His grandmother would agree with you.

O'REILLY: You know, when I see a guy running out on a baby and having, you know, a number of different families and just irresponsible — all he thought about was himself, but I'm seeing this from a distance. I don't know the man. But you know, I think Obama, that has got to play, just like Bill Clinton's mom played, a major role in the guy's life.

MENDELL: Yes. He felt like he was abandoned by this fellow, and he was trying it figure out why. I think that's why he searched out that ancestry. Why did this guy leave my mother? And — but they were just kids. They were, you know, 19, 20 years old when they got married.

O'REILLY: When they got married. Still, but this guy's pattern of behavior — he died in 1982 — was all over the place.


O'REILLY: I admire Barack Obama and Bill Clinton for overcoming, you know, what they did. And they didn't have the advantages that most of us have, and look where they are today.


O'REILLY: Mr. Mendell, thanks very much. We appreciate it. We'll have Part 2 on Michelle Obama Tuesday.

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