About the Book Agency Entry Saying Obama Was Born in Kenya…


Breitbart.com has released a 1991 catalog from a book agency representing Barack Obama. In the agency's bio of the future president, it says he was born in…Kenya. The book project mentioned in the copy never saw the light of day, though Obama did go on to pen the best-selling and highly (and rightly, in my opinion) acclaimed Dreams From My Father.

Breitbart's Joel Pollak underscores that he (like Andrew Breitbart) is not a birther:

The errant Obama biography in the Acton & Dystel booklet does not contradict the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate. Moreover, several contemporaneous accounts of Obama's background describe Obama as having been born in Hawaii.

But the site released the booklet at part of what it's calling "The Vetting," or an in-depth look at Obama it says the mainstream media failed to do during the 2008 campaign. The relevance of the document, says Pollak,

The biography does, however, fit a pattern in which Obama–or the people representing and supporting him–manipulate his public persona.

David Maraniss's forthcoming biography of Obama has reportedly confirmed, for example, that a girlfriend Obama described in Dreams from My Father was, in fact, an amalgam of several separate individuals….

Obama has been known frequently to fictionalize aspects of his own life. During his 2008 campaign, for instance, Obama claimed that his dying mother had fought with insurance companies over coverage for her cancer treatments. 

That turned out to be untrue, but Obama has repeated the story–which even the Washington Post called "misleading"–in a campaign video for the 2012 election.

More here.

One of the literary agents responsible for the booklet has flatly said she made a mistake in the copy:

Miriam Goderich edited the text of the bio; she is now a partner at the Dystel & Goderich agency, which lists Obama as one of its current clients.

"This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me–an agency assistant at the time," Goderich wrote in an emailed statement to Yahoo 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."

That's as definitive as definitive can be, even as Obama's most-ardent champions must agree this sort of thing is a pretty good catch by the Breitbart.com crew. When you're in a race that's heating up, this sort of blast from the past is the last thing with which you want to be dealing.

As I said last night on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, if Obama's opponents cannot beat him based on his thoroughly documented and generally terrible record as president of the United States, I can't imagine how this sort of material will save them. Like George W. Bush before him, Obama has been godawful as president, overseeing a failed stimulus plan, expanded bailouts to Wall Street and automakers, increased deportations of immigrants and raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, extra-constitutionally expansions of military power and executive privilege, you name it.

There's no question that this sort of document may add to the idea that Obama is willing to edit and revise his life story depending on circumstance (the insurance company story about this mother's treatments strikes me as a more telling example, since Obama is not really implicated in the author booklet in the same way). But a willingness to recast oneself depending on circumstance is not unique to Obama. It's what politicians do. If Republicans insist on using this sort of thing—or past associations with Jeremiah Wright, or whether he hugged critical race theorists, etc.—they will not only lose in November but deserve to lose. If Democrats foreground stories of Mitt Romney putting a dog in a cage on top of his car during a family vacation or the kookiness of Joseph Smith's theology, they will lose too. Deservedly.

Whatever politicians and their handlers do to avoid talking about their actual legislative records and prescriptions for current issues, they needn't get away with it. The real "vetting" is not what Obama—or Romney, or whomever—did 20, 30, or 40 years ago as private citizens. It's what they've done in the offices that are most relevant to the office they're seeking, and what they plan to do in the future.