In his massive new biography about Barack Obama’s pre-presidential years, “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,” Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow does get something right.
This has to do with Obama’s “rage.” What Garrow does not get right is the source of the rage Obama tried to sell black Chicago.
In describing the release of Obama’s memoir “Dreams from My Father” in 1995, Garrow reports reactions of “complete astonishment” from just about everyone who knew Obama.
“The serene man his friends describe could not be more different from the person Obama himself describes in his memoir,” one observer told Garrow. In fact, all of Obama’s acquaintances, black and white, told Garrow the same thing.
“We had no clue,” said one friend. “I never heard or felt or sensed any kind of identity crisis.”
As Garrow recognizes, this kind of distortion is no small detail. In fact, from Garrow’s perspective, “Dreams” is really just “historical fiction.”
Garrow understands as well the calculation behind the deception. Obama was positioning himself as an angry African-American to enhance his political appeal in black Chicago.
What Garrow refuses to consider is that someone provided Obama with the necessary rhetoric to express black rage. It certainly did not come from Obama friend Rob Fisher, a white economist whose role in crafting the book Garrow elevates beyond credibility.
To his credit, Garrow gets a lot closer to the truth than Dinesh D’Souza did in his 2010 book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” D’Souza has done many worthy things, but his Obama book was not one of them.
In the book, D’Souza argued that Barack Obama Sr. was “first and foremost” an anti-colonialist and that his son was too. Both assertions are arguably true.
What was not true, but what was absolutely essential to D’Souza’s thesis, was that Obama inherited the philosophy and its attendant rage from his absent father.
D’Souza claimed that Obama’s mother was the conduit. “Repeatedly, unceasingly, [Ann] convinced her son that he should develop his father’s values and identity in imitation of the senior Obama.”
In fact, Ann barely knew the old man. As is solidly documented, Ann and young Barry showed up in Seattle weeks after Obama’s August 1961 birth and lived there for about a year while Obama Sr. remained in Hawaii.
Garrow acknowledges this, but D’Souza refused to. When Denver radio host Peter Boyles called Obama’s claim of being abandoned by his father at age 2 “a provable lie,” D’Souza snapped back, “That is not a provable lie.”
D’Souza then volunteered the novel theory that Ann moved back to Hawaii after the first quarter at the University of Washington in fall 1961 and quite possibly saw Obama Sr. off to Harvard in June 1962.
When I heard D’Souza on Boyles’ show, I began to sense how deep was the divide between the establishment media, left or right, and the citizen journalists in the blogosphere.
“I am grateful for people who do research,” D’Souza told Boyles, but he did not really mean it. Citizen journalists had confirmed by 2009 that the Obama origins story was false. D’Souza ignored that research.
Like Garrow, he was content to write a bubble book, using as sources only the information that other journalists in the media bubble had reported.
Given my own location outside that bubble, neither D’Souza nor Garrow would have anything to do with my contention that Bill Ayers assisted Obama with the writing of “Dreams.”
I have argued that the scholarly Ayers imposed the Homeric “search for the father” structure on “Dreams” and lent Obama his “rage.”
In Ayers’ “Fugitive Days,” “rage” rules. Ayers tells of how his “rage got started” and how it evolved into an “uncontrollable rage – fierce frenzy of fire and lava.” Ayers, of course, was the co-creator of the infamous “Days of Rage.”
In fact, both Ayers and Obama speak of “rage” the way that Eskimos do of snow – in so many varieties, so often, that they feel the need to qualify it, as Obama does when he speaks of “impressive rage,” “suppressed rage” or “coil of rage.”
If I am correct about the source of Obama’s rage, D’Souza’s theory fully collapses and Garrow’s book is shown to be an epic exercise in evasion. So both simply ignored my thesis and have casually dismissed it when questioned.
My thesis is not the only question bubble book authors, left and right, evade. For the most part they will not touch issues like Obama’s Social Security number, the birth certificate, his passport and travel inconsistencies, his dubious parentage, his radical affiliations, his school records, or the authorship question.
More often than not they ridicule those who raise these issues. This includes Garrow. He mentions me only once and then in the endnotes with the petty disclaimer, “someone who is cited with the greatest reluctance.”
Oddly, Garrow quietly concedes that I was uniquely correct on the issue in question, the subject of Obama’s poem “Pop.” The literary critics said it about Obama’s grandfather. It was obviously about Frank Marshall Davis.
Curiously, too, Garrow reaches the same conclusions I did years earlier about Obama’s character and his place in history.
In my 2014 book, “You Lie,” I wrote about Obama, “Although immersed in leftism since childhood, he never left the shallow end of the pool. He proved so adept at breaking promises because he did not care deeply enough to ensure they were realized. What mattered more was that he be seen striking the right pose, finding the right groove, spinning the right narrative. He is not a serious man, never was.”
Garrow sums up his disappointment in the title of the concluding chapter, “The president did not attend, as he was golfing.”
Garrow put 10 years into his book. Why, one wonders, did he bother?
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