The Case Against Barack Obama, Sr.
It is widely held that Barack Obama, Sr., goat herder from Kenya, is the father of President Obama. We now know that this contention is probably false.
In Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father, he identifies Barack Obama, Sr. as his father. This book has been the primary source of information for all who have written about him. Yet two strong supporters of the president -- David Remnick, author of The Bridge, a biography of Obama, and Janny Scott, author of A Singular Woman, a biography of Ann Dunham -- have expressed doubts about the factual basis of Dreams:
Remnick: "Obama's memoir is a mixture of verifiable fact, recollection, recreation, invention and artful shaping."
Scott: "He gives his account of his parents' fleeting coming together and breaking apart in language and cadences reminiscent of those of folk tales or myths."
Thanks to Jack Cashill, we now know that Dreams from My Father was in large part a creation of Obama's neighbor and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, a man more interested in a "narrative" than in history. So, as a practical matter, when trying to determine the truth about Obama's origins, everything from Dreams must be considered suspect.
The Wedding That Wasn't
There is no record that Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, and Barack Obama, Sr. were ever married. There is no marriage license. There were no witnesses. But we do know from Ann's registration at the University of Washington that Ann did take Obama's name, so we must analyze what we know about their relationship.
Ann supposedly met Obama in a Russian language class, one of two classes that we know Ann took at the University of Hawaii in the fall semester of 1960. The meeting story, however, comes from Dreams and is therefore unreliable. Sally Jacobs, in her book, The Other Barack, makes reference to "Barack Obama's transcript from the University of Hawaii, Syracuse University, Frank C. Laubach Collection." The transcript would show us if Obama Sr. took the same Russian class that Ann did. When I requested the same records that Sally Jacobs had seen, Nicole Dittrich, the Reading Room supervisor, informed me that "...Obama Sr.'s Hawaii transcript[s are] currently missing from our collection."
For the sake of argument, we will assume, regardless of how or when they met, that Ann and Obama said they were married. We will also assume that they were in love. We would then logically assume that the pair lived and acted like lovers. They did not.
Heather Smathers, through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA), posted on the internet Obama Sr.'s United States Immigration file. From the documents (55 pages in all) we learn that Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham lived separately.
On page 35, William Wood wrote, "Barack Obama II, child living with mother (she resides with her parents and subject [Obama Sr.] resides at 1482 Alencastre St.)." The memo was dated 8/31/1961, only 27 days after their child was supposedly born. Their respective residences were over 7 miles away from each other.
Compounding their geographical separation is the fact that there is no documentary evidence that Ann or Obama Sr. ever drove a car while in Hawaii. David Maraniss in "Into the Story" relates that "...she [Ann] never got a license and did not drive her entire life." Obama was so poor that it is hard to imagine that he could afford roller skates, let alone a car.
Even more peculiar is the fact that Ann Dunham left her parents' home with her putatively newborn baby and enrolled in classes at the University of Washington in late August 1961. This is confirmed by enrollment records from the University of Washington. The classes she took were night classes.
After Ann's departure to Seattle, the couple would not see each other for ten years. From an article by John Griffin of the Honolulu Advertiser, we learn that Obama Sr. left Hawaii for Harvard on 6/22/1962. Ann did not return to Hawaii until late fall 1962 or early winter 1963, where she again enrolled in classes at the University of Hawaii.
One might argue that when Obama and Ann first told of their marriage, they really were in love, but something happened that caused a separation. This contention is undermined by the immigration documents. On page 39, a 4/10/1961 memo from Lyle Dahlin mentions his suspicion that the marriage was not a real one. He wrote, "Recommend that Subject be closely questioned before another extention [sic] is granted - and denial be considered. If his USC [United States Citizen] wife tries to petition for him make sure an investigation is conducted as to the bona-fide of the marriage."
The earliest record we have of a marriage comes from this same memo: "Mrs. McCabe, University of Hawaii, Foreign Student advisor, called on 4/10/61 and reported that BARACK H OBAMA, a student at the University since 1959 was married on February 2, 1961 to Stanley Ann Dunham."
Page 42 is an "APPLICATION BY ALIEN STUDENT FOR PERMISSION TO ACCEPT EMPLOYMENT." It was filled out, by hand, by Obama Sr. on 3/3/1961, only one month after his supposed marriage. Section 24 asked, "Economic necessity (explain how financial circumstances have changed since admission or change of status to student)." Obama Sr. wrote, "This is because I did not come with enough for the entire period of my stay and thought would get some from scholarship and work." What is glaringly missing is any mention of a wife and soon-to-be child -- important information, one would think, for a foreign student seeking permission to work.
If anything had happened that ended their love for each other, it would have to have happened in the month of February 1961 for Obama not to mention his pregnant wife in March. Yet, in April, Mrs. McCabe reported that they were married. One must assume that it was either Obama or Ann who supplied that information, as there was no marriage record.
The next time Obama filled out this application was on August 31, 1961 (reminder: nn and baby are now in Seattle). On it, he stated that he was married, but he did something curious. He wrote down a name but crossed it out, then filled in "Ann S. Dunham." The crossed out name looks like it starts with a "K" like the "K" in Kenya just above it. His wife's name in Kenya was Kezia. Whether the scratched out name was Kezia or not, it's clear he wrote down another name before writing in Ann's. Also, he got Ann's name wrong. Stanley Ann Dunham, or S. Ann Dunham, is correct, but not Ann S. Dunham. He left the box for name and address of child blank.
While Ann Was Away
We have photographic evidence that Obama spent time with students from the East West Center (EWC). The EWC was created to promote understanding among the peoples of the Pacific Rim. The Center describes itself as "[a] public, nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government." It was located on the campus of the University of Hawaii.
The first sizable group of EWC students arrived in Hawaii in September 1961, after Ann had left for Seattle. Lois Duggan, a September enrollee, wrote to her fellow students when Barack Obama was elected president: "We all converged on Honolulu a month after he was born there (no, not in a manger!) and knew -- well or in passing -- his father, though most of us then had no idea there was a baby." It appears that Obama Sr. never spoke about his wife and child to his EWC friends -- strange behavior for a man who was supposedly in love.
Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercrombie also claims to have known Obama Sr. while he was in Hawaii; he says he was his "best friend." Most of what Governor Abercrombie has said about Ann and Obama Sr. has proved false. In The Bridge, a credulous David Remnick recorded a whopper: "'Stanley was disappointed that Barack had left his daughter, but not too disappointed,' Neal Abercrombie said. 'He figured that the marriage was going to fail sooner or later and so it might as well not go on so long that it would hurt Little Barry, as he always called him.'"
Ann left Obama behind in August of 1961, yet Abercrombie would have us believe that Obama left Ann behind in June of 1962. Clearly, Abercrombie can't be believed. A "best friend" would know the facts, and Abercrombie obviously does not.
Finally, on May 29, 1962, Obama wrote his sponsor Tom Mboya: "You know my wife is in Nairobi there and I would really appreciate any help you may give her." Here Obama is talking about his wife Kezia, whom he left in Kenya. Thoughts of a wife and child in America seem never to have crossed his mind.
OK, so they weren't in love.
If the supposed marriage to Ann wasn't one of love, perhaps Obama Sr. was forced to marry her, shotgun-style. The few documents we have argue against this.
The documents make clear that Obama Sr. was given a "CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY." The previously mentioned memo from Lyle Dahlin noted that "[i]f he were convicted of bigamy we might get a deportation charge but not before." Obama, faced with a shotgun marriage, would only have had to claim he still had a wife in Kenya.
Perhaps Obama and Ann had a one-night fling and Obama consented to marry Ann for moral reasons, without coercion. In this scenario one would assume that Obama would take pride in and responsibility for raising his son. This assumption is again challenged by the documents we have.
The first mention of a son in the immigration documents is on August 17, 1962. Obama was apparently in Baltimore on his way to Harvard. But the son he mentions is Roy Obama, from his wife Kezia. Barack Obama II isn't listed as a son until April 21, 1964. This came as immigration officials were debating whether to ship Obama Sr. back to Kenya because, as M.F. McKeon of the Immigration Service wrote, "They were apparently having difficulty with his financial arrangements and couldn't seem to figure out how many wives he had." Obama Sr. listed the address of his son Barack as "C/O University of Hawaii, Honolulu Hawaii (page 14)." It appears Obama had no idea where his son was or how to contact him directly.
But the Birth Certificate Lists Obama Sr. as the Father
There are four anomalies in our president's recently released birth certificate regarding his father.
The father's race is listed as African. Obama Sr. had to know that there were both white and black "Africans," as both South Africa and Rhodesia were ruled by white minorities. Obama Sr. was quoted by John Griffin in the Honolulu Advertiser saying that it is "rather strange, even rather amusing to see Caucasians discriminated against here." It is difficult to imagine that the father would give his race as "African."
The father's birthplace is given as Kenya, East Africa. This is like saying United States, Central North America. On his "Alien Registration Fingerprint Chart" (page 52), his place of birth is listed as "Kisumu-Nyanza, Kenya." Obviously, Obama knew where he was born.
The baby's name is listed as "Barack Hussein Obama, II." But on page 14 of the immigration documents, Obama Sr. wrote the child's name as "Barack Obama 2nd."
Finally, Obama Sr.'s age is incorrect. The birth certificate states that he was 25, when in reality he was 27. For the entire time he was in Hawaii, he listed his birth date as 6/18/1934 on all of his immigration documents, making him 27 on August 4th 1961, the alleged birth date of his alleged son.
Listing his race as African, botching his place of birth, the ignorance of his son's official name, and, most significantly, reporting an incorrect age, leaves us with only one conclusion: Obama Sr. was nowhere around when the birth certificate was being filled out.
There is a picture of Ann's father, Stanley Dunham, standing next to Obama Sr., with his arm around him. The picture has generated much discussion in the blogosphere.
A careful review reveals many details which prove that it is a going away picture -- probably taken on June 22, 1962, while Ann and baby were still in Seattle. Some have argued that because there are leis around Obama Sr.'s neck, it has to be an arrival picture. However, the website "Blooms of Hawaii" states that "[a] lei is bestowed on another for many reasons -- it can symbolize love, friendship, parting, a wish for safety, and many other messages of peace."
If you look carefully at the 21 people in the picture, you can see that they are composed of two distinct groups: friends of Obama and crew from the boat that is taking him to the mainland. The two men in the middle wearing sailor suits and the man kneeling in the front with a steward or cook's jacket on indicate crew, but some of Obama's East-West Center friends appear in the picture. (Note: "best friend" Abercrombie does not!) They all arrived in Hawaii after September 1961, making this likely a going away picture.
But there is more we can learn from this picture. Below is a cropped section focusing on Obama, the girl next to him, and Stanley Dunham.
You can see Stanley's arm around Obama. You can see Obama's left arm, the one next to Stanley, holding a briefcase. What you can't see is Obama's right arm, or the girl's left arm. It appears that their arms are around each other. Though this could be innocent, it could also show Obama with his girlfriend. How then, can we explain Stanley's smiling visage?
What makes sense?
None of the scenarios for marriage we have discussed so far -- love, or love with a separation, a shotgun marriage, or doing the "right thing" -- makes any sense with the facts we know. There is one scenario, however, that makes a lot of sense.
Let's assume that Ann was impregnated by someone unknown and was facing the stigma of becoming an unwed mother. Obama Sr., for a fee, agreed to "marry" Ann. Being a foreign national from Kenya, there would be no liability for him (child support, etc.), and it might have been a help for extending his stay in America.
Ann's taking Obama's name for the sake of being "respectable" would explain all of what we now know: why there was no love in the relationship, the separate living arrangements, Ann and Barry leaving Obama and moving to Seattle, the EWC friends knowing nothing about Ann and child, Obama's letter to Mboya mentioning his wife Kezia, all of the mistakes on the birth certificate, and the apparent friendship between Obama and Ann's father Stanley.
The immigration documents support this scenario, as they show just how broke Obama Sr. was. On 3/3/1961 Obama Sr. claimed $1,200 in income and $2,000 in annual expenses (page 42). This was just one month after he was supposedly married. He had a shortfall of $800. He was a man in serious need of funds. A pay for service arrangement is eminently believable, especially when the immigration documents show that he earned $5.00 a day as a dishwasher at the Ink Blot Coffee Shop (page 43) and worked for the Dole Corporation as an "ordinary summer worker" for $1.33 per hour (page 35).
But if they weren't married, why did Ann file for divorce?
Ann filed for divorce in January of 1964. Obama was notified while at Harvard; he signed an acknowledgement, and that was the extent of his involvement. My guess as to why Ann filed for a divorce, when there was no marriage, is that she was now in love with Lolo Soetoro. She wanted to make sure there was no legal reason, such as common-law marriage, that would potentially prevent their union. Ann and Lolo were married in March of 1965.
We won't be fooled again...
The evidence is clear: there is no license; there was no marriage. Ann took Obama's name, but there was no love, no estrangement, no coercion, no selfless gallantry in the "marriage." Obama was a financially desperate student who got a big break when the Dunhams found him and paid him to be a father in name only. Ann and son Barry went on with their lives, and Obama continued on with his studies.
Is it possible that our president doesn't know this? I find that hard to believe. I do know, though, that he used the compelling, but mythical, story of an African father and Midwestern mother to get elected. I also believe that whether or not Obama knew the truth about his parents' relationship, he didn't realize then that Obama Sr.'s Kenyan nationality would lead opponents to question his "natural born citizen" status.
In all likelihood, our President is a "natural born citizen" who was elected under false pretenses. Mr. President, in the next election, please run on your record and not a mythological past. History and your fellow citizens deserve this much.