New Obama Bio Is Not Just Exhausting; It’s Insulting
“Dreams from My Father was not a memoir or an autobiography;” writes Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow, “it was instead, in multitudinous ways, without any question a work of historical fiction.”
Garrow makes this claim, italics included, in his massive new biography about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. For myself and other citizen journalists who have followed Obama, this is hardly a revelation.
We concluded many years ago that Dreams was in large part fiction. We came to this conclusion during the same period when our betters were writing paeans such as, “Whatever else people expect from a politician, it’s not usually a beautifully written personal memoir steeped in honesty” (Oona King, London Times).
The book, we realized, was steeped in something, but it certainly wasn’t honesty. Before the election in 2008, no one in the major media would admit this, and afterwards mainstream critics did so only partially and reluctantly. Garrow continues the tradition.
The New York Times has dismissed Rising Star as “a dreary slog of a read.” I have seen nothing in what I have read of the book to dispute the Times on the tedium part. (My ebook version runs 2,000 pages, and it has just crashed.) I have read enough, however, to feel insulted, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of those other citizen journalists who dared to report the truth before the major media grudgingly did the same.
Garrow adds a little more to the accepted record -- oh yeah, there was no Obama family -- but the book serves in certain ways to cauterize Obama’s wounded reputation. It is hard to imagine another author going deeper. Garrow spent ten years on the project. He interviewed more than a thousand people. There is much not to like about Garrow’s Obama, but the faithful need never fear learning anything worse than that their man was shallow and self-centered. What politician isn’t?
Like other mainstream biographers, Garrow has the unfortunate habit of insulting those who challenge the orthodoxy, myself included. In July 2008, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Dreams. Beginning in September 2008, I traced the muse behind Dreams, speculatively at first, to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.
Obama biographer David Remnick admitted just how problematic this revelation could have been. “This was a charge,” he wrote in his 2010 biography, “that if ever proved true, or believed to be true among enough voters, could have been the end of the candidacy.”
The way for Remnick, the New Yorker editor, to deal with the charge was to attack its provenance -- “the Web’s farthest lunatic orbit.” To assure the charge was not repeated, he accused anyone who repeated it, Rush Limbaugh most notably, with racism.
Garrow has his own way of slighting the assertion that Ayers had a hand in Dreams. He ignores it. He makes no mention of my name in the text of the book. Nor does he mention Christopher Andersen. Andersen presented more of a problem than I did. A bestselling biographer with solid mainstream credentials, Andersen gave biographical detail to what I had inferred from textual analysis.
In his 2009 book, Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage, Andersen spent six pages on Ayers’ role in helping craft Dreams. As Andersen related, Obama found himself deeply in debt and “hopelessly blocked.” At “Michelle’s urging,” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.” What attracted the Obamas were “Ayers’s proven abilities as a writer” as evident in his 1993 book, To Teach.
Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American, Andersen elaborated, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.” Although I had not talked to Andersen, his observations, based on two unnamed sources, made perfect sense given Obama’s repeated failures to complete the book on schedule.
One of Obama’s radical friends in Hyde Park did not shy from giving Ayers his due. “First, chronologically and in other ways,” wrote Rashid Khalidi in his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, “comes Bill Ayers.” Khalidi elaborated, “Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family’s dining room table to do some writing for the project.” Khalidi did not need the table. He had one of his own. He needed help from the one neighbor who obviously could and would provide it.
Garrow has not a word to say about Andersen’s claim, not even to rebut it. In fact, the reader of Garrow’s book would have no reason to believe anyone ever questioned Obama’s authorship. As for me, Garrow adds a comically gratuitous slap.
The reference is a telling one. It involves a poem Obama submitted to his college literary magazine as a sophomore called “Pop.” Garrow writes that most critics presumed the poem was about Obama’s grandfather, but “hostile critics,” namely me, claimed the poem was about Obama’s Communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.
In his footnotes, Garrow cites an article published in American Thinker in 2011. In it, I quoted Remnick’s claim that “’Pop' clearly reflects Obama's relationship with his grandfather Stanley Dunham." I disagreed. “The poem does no such thing, “ I wrote. “For starters, if the poem really were about ‘Gramps,’ Stanley Dunham, why didn't Obama simply call it ‘Gramps.’"
There is a variety of evidence arguing for Davis as “Pop.” This includes a 1987 interview with Davis recorded by the University of Hawaii for a documentary on his life. Watching it, one can visualize “Pop”: the drinking, the smoking, the glasses, the twitches, the roaming eyes, the thick neck and broad back. “I could see Frank sitting in his overstuffed chair,” Obama remembers in Dreams, “a book of poetry in his lap, his reading glasses slipping down his nose.”
Among the details in the poem that disqualified Dunham as the poem's subject was this one: “he switches channels, recites an old poem/ He wrote before his mother died.” As I explained, Dunham's mother died when he was eight years old. Frank Marshall Davis's mother died when he was twenty and had already established himself as a poet of promise. “When an insider like Remnick gets something this obviously wrong,” I concluded, “I begin to suspect disinformation, not mere misinformation.”
Remnick and those critics who preceded him insisted the poem was about Dunham because they did not want to give Davis his due. To his credit, Garrow admits Davis was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA and a pornographer with at least a fictional taste for the underaged and the male.
Garrow knows I am correct about the authorship of “Pop.” But Remnick is the editor of the New Yorker. Even when he is wrong, Garrow writes about him respectfully. Here, Garrow concludes the brief discussion on ‘Pop” by writing, “Yet Barack would forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis.” Of course he would.
Here is the kicker. When Garrow cites me by name in his endnotes on this subject, he adds in parentheses, “someone who is cited with the greatest reluctance.” Ouch! I suppose I would be reluctant to cite me too. I can disprove Garrow’s thesis that the muse for Dreams was his law school buddy Robert Fischer as convincingly as I can disprove “Pop” was Stanley Dunham. More to come.
In July 2008, on the cyber pages of WND, I first raised the issue of the authorship of Barack Obama’s acclaimed 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.
In September 2008, again at WND, I traced the muse behind Dreams to the notoriously unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers.
If other conservative media had the courage that WND has shown over its twenty-year history, they would have followed up on my story, and Barack Obama would not have been elected president. But they did not, and he, alas, was.
A book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow about Obama’s pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, has the potential to tell the stories the major media and much of the conservative media refused to tell. No Obama fan, Garrow critiques Obama from his left.
Garrow allegedly interviewed a thousand or so people for the book. When I suggested to friend Susan Daniels last week that Rising Star, out May 9, has potential, she asked, “Did Garrow interview you?”
No, come to think of it, he did not. I asked Susan if Garrow interviewed her. He should have. A licensed private investigator, it was Susan who discovered that Obama was passing through life with a Connecticut social security number.
No, Garrow had not talked to Susan either, despite the fact that she had taken her case against Obama’s use of that number to court in her native Ohio.
That got me to wondering just who(m) did Garrow talk to. I contacted Joel Gilbert, producer of the widely seen documentary, Dreams from My Real Father.
“Not me or anyone I know or interviewed in Obamaworld. Not Malik or Keith etc.,” Gilbert replied.
Malik would be Obama’s half-brother and the best man at his wedding, Malik Obama. Keith Kakugawa, was Obama's best friend in high school. He appears frequently in Dreams as “Ray.”
Gilbert added, “We know he interviewed Barry, which is a red flag! Claim sounds like BS.”
I reached out to Charles Johnson, founder of Gotnews.com and a deep Obama researcher. Johnson is also the possessor of an early draft of Dreams. Said Johnson of Garrow’s claimed thousand interviews, “I think he is lying.”
“He never contacted me,” said Jerry Corsi who led the quest to secure Obama’s birth certificate at WND and in a best-selling book.
Given that Garrow has reportedly discussed Obama’s alleged bisexuality, I thought for sure he would have interviewed Larry Sinclair.
In June 2008, Sinclair held a press conference at the august National Press Club in Washington to discuss what he claimed were his drug-fueled sexual assignations with Obama in Chicago.
The media called the conference a “circus act” and refused to follow up. To be sure, they did not review his book, Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder. For all his eccentricities, Sinclair tells a convincing tale.
I reached out to Sinclair through Facebook. “I just don't know any David Garrow,” he told me, “nor have I given any interviews in last couple of years as I have been restoring a neglected community.”
When I told Sinclair that Garrow has not interviewed anyone I know who knows anything about Obama, he replied, “That doesn't surprise me considering he is connected to the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] which listed me as a racist and hate group promoter.”
Finally, though, I did hear from one fellow whom Garrow had contacted, John Drew. Drew met Obama in December 1980 in California. He had flown to visit his girlfriend and fellow traveler, Caroline Boss. A few years earlier, Drew had founded the Marxist-Socialist group at Occidental College.
Drew was at Boss's parents' home when an expensive luxury car with two well-dressed young men pulled up. One was Obama, the other Hassan Chandoo, "They're on our side," Boss told him.
Throughout the long evening, the group talked Marxist politics. Drew recalled Obama repeatedly using the phrase "When the revolution comes."
Drew met Obama on several occasions in the future. “At that time,” say Drew, “the future president was a doctrinaire Marxist revolutionary, although perhaps -- for the first time -- considering conventional politics as a more practical road to socialism.”
Garrow interviewed Drew in December 2011. He told Drew that his next stop was to visit Caroline Boss. It appeared that he had already interviewed others at Occidental.
“From a recent radio interview,” Drew said, “I'm not sure that you or I had much impact on [Garrow’s] thinking. He believes one of Obama's friends at Harvard Law School helped with the rewrite of Dreams and not Bill Ayers. (This just seems absolutely stupid to me.)”
Drew continued, “Darrow also dismissed the ‘conspiracy theories’ that Obama was a Marxist, Muslim, or gay. Although I use the broadest definitions, I see Obama as all three. I'm not even sure I made the final cut of the book at this point.”
When I asked Drew if he minded if I quoted him, he replied, “Not at all. I think Garrow made a huge mistake by not speaking with you.”
The New York Times has already panned the book. It will probably flop. My suspicion at this point is that it will be too honest for the left and not honest enough for the right.