Why Kenyan Birth Claim Was No ´Fact Checking Error´ (AMERICAN SPECTATOR) Jack Cashill 05/19/12)
AMERICAN THINKER Articles-Index-Top
No sooner did the literary agency brochure in which Barack Obama was
said to be Kenyan-born surface than the media went to work to deep-
"This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -
assistant at the time," Miriam Goderich, now a named partner in the
literary agency, Dystel & Goderich, wrote in an emailed statement to
Yahoo News, which was then picked up ABC News. "There was never any
information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or
other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya
and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this
was a simple mistake and nothing more."
This confession rings
false to the point of preposterous for any
number of reasons. Let us start with the obvious. At the time,
1991, the Acton & Dystel agency listed 90 clients, Obama among its
least significant. How likely is it that Goderich would have
remembered enough about a 1991 "error" to know it was hers,
especially since it went uncorrected through several revisions until
changed in 2007? To make this claim credible, there would have to be
an existing paper trail leading to an Obama submission in which he
lists an Hawaiian birth. I am confident that there is no such
Former publisher Tom Lipscomb does not buy
Goderich´s explanation for
a New York minute. "As someone who has run a number of top
bestseller publishers, I think this is an amazing MIRACLE," writes
Lipscomb emphatically on Power Line. "It is the ONLY case I have
ever heard of in which an editorial assistant INVENTED a biographical
detail. I have heard of typos, wrong dates, misspellings of names.
But to pick a really weird country of origin like Kenya for an
The Breitbart people followed up with a piece by Steve
Boman, a Jane
Dystel client in the mid-1990s, who noted, "All material she used in
our proposals came directly from me and my writing partner." This is
standard. In the eight books I have written under my own name, I
have reviewed all biographical information sent out about me either
by agent or publisher. Like most authors, I have let a little fluff
pass, but not much.
The most interesting "tell" in the 1991
Acton & Dystel brochure
relates to what was said about Obama´s career in the business world.
Obama, the reader learns, "worked as a financial journalist and
editor for Business International Corporation."
In Dreams from
My Father, Obama inflated his stint at Business
International even more and transformed it into a faux moment of
racial awareness, one of at least a half-dozen concocted racial
melodramas in the book. As Obama tells the story, a "consulting
house to multinational corporations" hired him and promptly promoted
him to the position of "financial writer."
Here, he felt like "a
spy behind enemy lines," and a guilty one at
that. "As far as I could tell," he adds, "I was the only black man
in the company." He does not boast of his racial uniqueness.
Rather, in full grievance mode, he considers it "a source of shame."
Indeed, the whole experience troubled him:
I had my own office,
my own secretary, money in the bank. Sometimes,
coming out of an interview with Japanese financiers or German bond
traders, I would catch my reflection in the elevator doors-see myself
in a suit and tie, a briefcase in my hand-and for a split second I
would imagine myself as a captain of industry, barking out orders,
closing the deal, before I remembered who it was that I had told
myself I wanted to be and felt pangs of guilt for my lack of
As early as July 2005, however, former co-worker and
Obama fan Dan
Armstrong revealed Obama´s whole account to be a "serious
exaggeration." Obama worked at not a multinational corporation, but
a "small company that published newsletters." He was not the only
black person who worked there. He did not, as claimed, have his own
office, wear a jacket and tie, interview international businessmen,
or write articles. He mostly just copy-edited business items and
slipped them into a three-ring binder for the company´s
Are we supposed to believe that Goderich not only
birthplace from Hawaii to Kenya, but also transformed him from a
grunt filling three-ring binders into a "financial journalist and
When this discrepancy surfaced years later, pundits in
were confused as to why Obama would lie about such seemingly
irrelevant details. There are two good, non-exclusive
possibilities. For one, the exaggeration enables the reader to see
Obama as he would like to see himself -- "a spy behind enemy lines."
For another, Obama´s co-author, Bill Ayers, once again took the
framework of Obama´s life and roughed in the details.
Fugitive Days, Ayers´ 2001 memoir, he uses the phrase "behind
enemy lines" almost literally to describe his and his comrades´ quiet
infiltration of the opponent´s position. Wife Bernardine Dohrn has
said the same in public. When the Weather Underground declared its
state of war with the United States in May 1970, Dohrn warned that
people fighting "Amerikan imperialism" all over the world "look to
Amerika´s youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to
join forces in the destruction of the empire."
The bottom line
is this: Obama has been creating and shifting
identities his entire adult life. If the agency brochure was a
snapshot of the 1991 Obama, Dreams captured him in his 1995 pose:
hip, black, progressive, wounded by racial slights but able to
overcome them, just the man to lead Chicago into the 21st century,
then the extent of his and Ayers´s ambition for him.
[Obama] sometime in the mid-1990s[,]" Bill Ayers would tell
Salon, likely pushing the actual date back several years. "And
everyone who knew him thought that he was politically ambitious. For
the first two years, I thought, his ambition is so huge that he wants
to be mayor of Chicago."
Friend Cassandra Butts traced that
ambition back at least to
Harvard. "He wanted to be mayor of Chicago and that was all he ever
talked about as far as holding office," she would tell early Obama
biographer David Mendell.
No one would have challenged Obama´s
biography had he not gone beyond
Chicago, but he did. And so where he was born matters, and whether
he even wrote his own biography matters, too. As much as I know
about Obama, I don´t know pretend to know the answer -- at least to
the first of those two questions.
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY