Who Is Barack Obama? The Question that Won't Go Away
So now Chris Matthews isn’t the only one experiencing a little thrill when he thinks about Barack (omit middle name) Obama. The recent revelation that from the early 1990s until the day before yesterday—or, to be more accurate, until Obama made his decision to run for president—a biographical pamphlet circulated by his literary agents described him as having been “born in Kenya” has been setting the world of Twitter atwitter.
What should we think about that? An agency spokesman who claims to have been responsible for the “born in Kenya” wheeze has publicly said that it was a mistake, a typographical error, a slip of the pen that just went “unchecked” for, um, sixteen-seventeen years. I can understand that. She meant to write “Hawaii” and wrote “Kenya” instead. Could happen to anyone. They look and sound enough alike, don’t they, that no one noticed. You meant to write “there” and you wrote “their” instead. You meant to write “cup” and you wrote “floccinaucinihilipilification” instead. No one—no one at the literary agency, not the author himself—could be expected to notice. You understand that, right?
Well, maybe that is an unprofitable line of inquiry. However it happened, the take-away here is not that Obama was really born in Kenya. As my friend Roger Simon points out in “The Mystery of the Kenyan Birth,” the noteworthy thing is that it is one more puff in the cloud of unknowing that surrounds the president.
It’s been pretty foggy in those precincts for some time. During the 2008 campaign, many of us asked the question: “Who is Barack Obama?” It wasn’t a question that Obama’s official PR firms—The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc.--were interested in, no sirree, but it was a question that some of us pajamas-wearing-bitter-enders asked ourselves when we weren’t snake handling or nuzzling our firearms.
It’s a question that has recurred as more and more pieces of the Obama jigsaw puzzle have worked their way loose and exposed little gaps or fissures in the story. The most recent one concerned Ms. Composite, the girlfriend who didn’t exactly exist. But there have been other revelations, or, rather, revelations of non-revelation. Turns out the book filed under “Autobiography” ought to have been filed under “Teen Fantasy,” “Mystery,” or some other rubric in the fiction section.
Since 2008, the meticulous Stanley Kurtz has patiently been sifting through what materials are publicly available to answer the question Who Is Barack Obama? His book Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism is essential reading for anyone the least bit curious about the political history and ideological commitments of the most powerful man in the world.
But not everyone shares Mr. Kurtz’s curiosity. At the beginning of the Metaphysics, Aristotle observes than human beings are by nature curious animals: they ask questions and want to know the truth about the world around them. But not all men. One of the great oddnesses of the 2008 campaign was the code of omerta enforced by the the legacy media about anything having to do with Obama’s past. Where was he born? Don’t know, don’t care. What were his college years like? Can’t you move on to something important, like the time Mitt Romney ragged some hippie in high school? Why did Obama say that former Weatherman Bill Ayers was “just a guy in the neighborhood” when he was plainly an important political mentor, if not also the ghostwriter, for the future president?
And on and on and on. There are a lot of questions to be asked about Barack Obama. Why are his college records sealed? Why can’t we see a certified copy of his birth certificate? Why are his medical records sealed? I’ve been told that his Social Security registration was issued by Connecticut, which would be odd, but cannot check because that too is sealed. Obama worked as a lawyer, but we don’t know who he worked for because his client list is sealed. Why is it that Michelle Obama can no longer practice as an attorney? We know the fact but not the reason.
As I say, last time around, general infatuation guaranteed that Obama got more or less a free pass from the legacy media. I suspect there will be much more curiosity as the summer progresses and we get into the campaign. For one thing, the nimbus of inviolability around Obama has been seriously breached. He is no longer the pristine knight come to lower the oceans, fix the economy, and “fundamentally transform” the United States of America into a green paradise where everyone suckles happily at the federal mammary gland except the evil coal producers who are miserable bankrupts. No, I suspect that even The Washington Post, even The New York Times, will have to take a peek or two under the covers of the tale of this international man of mystery.
They’ll more or less have to. Alternative sources of information are much more potent now than they were in 2008. It matters not if The New York Times closes ranks and buries a story. There are too many other instruments of disinterment. The news will out. And the more people know about Barack Obama, the more, I predict, they will wonder how this man became president of the United States. As a first, preliminary spur to curiosity, I share the following image just sent to me by a friend. Click on the next page to see.
Question period is now officially open.