Remembering Obama’s bogus Selma speech
Along with some other presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton spoke in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday to commemorate the famed civil right march that put that city on the map.
Hillary was not the first politician to conjure up an ersatz southern accent to show her street cred. In 2007, Barack Omama used the occasion of the march’s 52nd anniversary to show down he was with the movement in what biographer David Remnick charitably called “a slightly different dialect.”
The full 30-minute speech
In fact, Obama used his best black preacher voice to tell his audience a story so comically unanchored to reality that had a black Republican’s told it his candidacy would have died before the evening news even aired.
“My very existence might not have been possible had it not been for some of the folks here today,” Obama told the civil rights veterans gathered to mark the events of “Bloody Sunday.”
“Something happened back here in Selma, Alabama,” Obama continued. This something “sent a shout across the ocean,” which inspired Obama Sr., still “herding goats” back in Kenya, to “set his sights a little higher.” This same something also “worried folks in the White House” to the point that the “the Kennedy's decided we're going to do an air lift.”
As the saga continued, Obama Sr. got a ticket on the airlift and met Obama’s mother, a descendant of slave-owners. “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge,” preached Obama.
“So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama.”
He didn’t, and he wasn’t. Something about Selma inspired Obama to aggrandize his history to Homeric levels. For starters, herding goats in his father’s town was like mowing lawns in an American one. Everyone did it as a kid, even the son of the village’s most affluent guy.
Obama’s prosperous grandfather, by the way, had not been imprisoned and tortured by the British for helping the anti-colonial Mau-Mau rebels, as Obama, in another bit of canvas-darkening, claimed in Dreams from My Father.
By the time his son came along, Grandpa Obama was able to dress him in western clothes and send him to English-speaking Christian schools. Obama Sr. was working as a clerk in Nairobi, not a goatherd in East Bejesus, when he applied for the first airlift. For the young or those of short memory, the Republican Eisenhower was the president in 1959 when Obama Sr. came to the United States.
Although born in Kansas, Ann Dunham was not exactly Dorothy. She spent her formative years in the state of Washington where she earned the nickname "Anarchist Annie" under the tutelage of some hipster teachers.
By the time of the Selma march, Dunham had long since been seduced and abandoned by the roguish Obama Sr. In fact, her son was conceived four years before anyone outside of Alabama ever heard of Selma. What amazes in retrospect is how Obama found the nerve to tell so flagrantly dishonest a story. Having a dependably obliging media surely fortified his spine.
More than a year later, the Washington Post’s fact checker Michael Dobbs began his analysis of the speech with the sadly ingenuous comment, “A reader, Gregory Gelembiuk of the University of Wisconsin, thought there was something strange about the story told by Barack Obama in his Selma speech last year, and asked me to look into it.”
Good gosh, Michael! It took the Post a year to figure out there was something strange about this speech?