Writing in The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson draws attention to a little problem with President Obama elucidated by David Mariness’s mostly loving biography, Barack Obama: The Story, which was released today: The president is a committed fabulist.
Ferguson focuses on a section of the book in which Mariness describes some irregularities concerning Obama’s taking of literary license in his book, Dreams From My Father.
As Ferguson notes, Obama acknowledges in the book that “for the sake of compression,” some of the characters therein are “composites.” But this, Maraniss reveals, is an even more damning fiction. Because some of the characters are little more than Dreams from Obama.
The book derives its power from the reader’s understanding that the events described were factual at least in the essentials. Maraniss demonstrates something else: The writer who would later use the power of his life story to become a plausible public man was making it up, to an alarming extent.
That is, some of the pivotal characters in Obama’s book who supposedly had a profound influence on his life don’t exist. Not real. Not a combination of anything, except falsehoods.
Reminds me of how Ronald Reagan used to draw derisive chuckles from liberals because he seemed to be confusing real events with those he saw in the movies. At least Reagan’s anecdotes had a basis in celluloid.
In Dreams, we find Ray, Obama’s black radical friend from his Hawaiian high school who couldn’t get dates with white chicks. That Obama had found a radicalized black friend at an exclusive private school in Hawaii should have been a tipoff that something wasn’t right.
In fact, Maraniss finds, Ray was someone named Keith Kakugawa, who was but a quarter African American and, it turns out, was busy dating the base admiral’s white daughter.
And then there was Regina, the black gal from Chicago Obama says he met at Occidental College who made him start feeling comfortable, literally, in his own skin. Wrote Obama:
Her voice evoked a vision of black life in all its possibility, a vision that filled me with longing—a longing for place, and a fixed and definite history.
Nope. No Regina. Doesn’t seem there was anyone like her at Occidental, which apparently was brimming instead with privileged white girls.
The role of Regina in Obama’s life, Maraniss thinks, may have been played much later by a woman named Michelle Robinson, who of course became Michelle Obama.
Ferguson neatly summarizes the book’s impact:
He did in effect what so many of us have done with him. He created a fable about an Obama far bigger and more consequential than the unremarkable man at its center.
Many, even those who voted against him, thought the Obama they were presented with was real. And even those who voted for him and thought he walked on water – even though nothing ever showed up on YouTube – are by now at least a little disappointed. Which is why Jim Messina over at campaign headquarters is analyzing every block of Cleveland to get out the vote.
The mainstream media, which surely would have been all over any lies contained in Dreams from Dick Cheney’s Father, is sure to sidestep all of this.
But perhaps it doesn’t matter. Obama in 2012 has shed all the deceptions of 2008. He’s running as committed liberal and an unabashed politician. Americans who vote for him this time should know precisely what they’re getting.