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Obama’s Composite Girlfriend Creates Rip van Winkle Awakening

The success of “Dreams” has given Obama nearly complete control of his own life narrative, an appealing tale that has been the foundation of his political success. But Maraniss’s biography threatens that narrative by questioning it: Was Obama’s journey entirely spiritual and intellectual? Or was it also grounded in the lower realms of ambition and calculation?The dangerous new Obama book, by Glenn Thrush and Dylan Byers

BACK IN 2007, into very early 2008, when the national press was agog about Barack Obama, I wrote about him in a manner that was honest and highly doubting that the myth matched what I’d been told by Chicagoans, as well as what I’d dug up and read about the man who was just another ruthless politician. But politics is a dirty game and there isn’t one person who reaches Obama’s heights that doesn’t get into the mud, which was certainly the case in the Democratic primaries of 2007, which I recount in my book The Hillary Effect.

The Obama camp went nuclear on Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas, which I’ve defended, as they also did on Confidence Men by Ron Suskind, also a trove of revealing facts. So you can bet they’ve got a corner of their reelection war room ready for David Marinass’s new book Barack Obama: The Story, to be published in June by Simon & Schuster.

However, let’s begin with what Barack Obama wrote in Dreams from My Father, before the reader gets to the first page:

“For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people, I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology. With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of privacy.” [Business Insider]

No one can get into Mr. Obama’s mind way back when he was writing his memoir, but having written about a boyfriend in my current book I’ll admit I can’t relate to the composite choice. There are many ways to protect people, with a composite obviously coming with motive on crafting a story that lives beyond facts and truth. It’s not in any way necessarily nefarious, dishonest or manipulative. However, considering Barack Obama’s healthy ambition it’s clear there was intent to create a narrative that suited the main character’s purpose. Again, nothing wrong with that either, but the tale does lie beyond fact. That he admits this up front is important. Why he decided to take that road, however, is too.

It is excerpted in Vanity Fair:

In Dreams from My Father, Obama chose to emphasize a racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman he described as his New York girlfriend.

One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering–nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said–and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.

None of this happened with Genevieve. She remembered going to the theater only once with Barack, and it was not to see a work by a black playwright. When asked about this decades later, during a White House interview, Obama acknowledged that the scene did not happen with Genevieve. “It is an incident that happened,” he said. But not with her. He would not be more specific, but the likelihood is that it happened later, when he lived in Chicago. “That was not her,” he said. “That was an example of compression I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them. So that was a consideration. I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends. And so, that occupies, what, two paragraphs in the book? My attitude was it would be dishonest for me not to touch on that at all … so that was an example of sort of editorially how do I figure that out?”

An over exercised story in The Atlantic makes good points on Rush Limbaugh and the corrections made by Politico. But the complaining about Obama and “vetting” is laughable.

Politico does get one thing correct and that is the Marinass book is potentially dangerous, because people don’t think of Barack Obama the way they did in 2008. No politician can withstand the pedestal and political god treatment, whether it’s John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, William Jefferson Clinton or, yes, even Barack Obama.

All along David Axelrod and David Plouffe portrayed Barack Obama as beyond your average politician. Michelle Obama has added to this myth exponentially, as has Valerie Jarrett and others around the President, because as the first African American president they’ve laid on him, with Obama accepting the charge, that he’s special, different and, as Oprah said, “The One.”

Through all my writing, including in my book, which focuses on the press’s complicity in allowing the myth of Obama to take hold as a political foundation, I’ve endeavored to portray Barack Obama as he is, which began through what I’d learned from digging around as much as my independent pocketbook would allow, back when the traditional and new media press, as well as cable, were laying hands on him. It looks like the media is finally deciding to consider that Barack Obama is indeed another politician who utilized his life story to craft a narrative that would sell.

Ask Marco Rubio how important a political narrative is in American politics.

We’re a Hollywood nation, so we love a good story and when someone tries to add truth to the mix that tarnishes the tale they end up paying for it in any number of ways.

But to hear the media whine about Barack Obama’s story is a bit much. This is the same national and new media I indict in my book, because of their clear bias and careless coverage throughout 2007-2008, while ignoring important clues, not to mention what they chose to focus on regarding Hillary Clinton, a dramatic political and journalistic tale that goes back 20 years. Ryan Lizza’s article in The New Yorker further proved I’d been on to something from the start.

Now the right’s going nuclear because it will help their fight to get Mitt Romney in the White House. Utilizing Obama’s fall from perfection, the media’s Rip van Winkle awakening to stir up a story in a dizzyingly boring election year, as well as the people’s nervousness about everything, Republicans have seized on the Marinass narrative.

Team Obama’s in for a bruising battle, because now everyone knows he’s not “The One.” No one is.

CORRECTION: The Maranass book will be out in June, not this month as originally stated, and has been corrected above.

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24 Responses to Obama’s Composite Girlfriend Creates Rip van Winkle Awakening

  1. fangio May 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    A Ryan Lizza article published in the New Yorker magazine shortly after the ’08 election paints Obama as a political opportunist in no uncertain terms. He both abused and manipulated the redistricting process to put together a voting bloc that would assure him victory in his senate run.

  2. secularhumanizinevoluter May 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I can’t for the life of me see any “danger” in this new book. Those who hate President Obama and are desperate for a reason, ANY reason other then that he’s Black…which is for most the real root reason will grasp at this flimsy straw and scream and call limpy and handjobity and their ilk…but they hate President Obama to start with. Everyone else will yawn.

    • jinbaltimore May 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      this flimsy straw … limpy and handjobity

      That’s what Genevieve said.

    • Rick Roberts May 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      Sec, have you read the book? My understanding is that it won’t be out until June.

      • secularhumanizinevoluter May 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

        Doesn’t matter.

        • Rick Roberts May 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

          I know how you like to be fully informed before making a judgment.

    • Marie205 May 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      “Everyone else will yawn.”-secularhumanizinevoluter

      That is how I feel about this new aka pathetic scandal.

  3. jjamele May 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    “Obama Fabricates Girlfriend…”

    Ok, more than any Birth Certificate, this is proof positive that the President is an American Male. Seriously, if any guy tells me he’s NEVER done this, I’ll tell that guy he is a liar or at least has a very bad memory.

    • Taylor Marsh May 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm #


      • Rick Roberts May 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

        Taylor, does your smiling approval mean that it would be OK to make sweeping pronouncements about the American female?

  4. Marie205 May 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    This such a non-story. And boring one too. People who don’t trust Obama will love this book, those that like Obama will ignore or keep defending him. People like me in the middle could careless…the guy is now married with two children. We have more important issues to worry about then the ramblings of former girlfriends.

  5. Rick Roberts May 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    It’s upsetting to realize how easily large numbers of people will accept a conjured media narrative without supporting evidence or even in the face of refuting evidence. It happens with political candidates and elsewhere, doesn’t it? More baffling still are people who will swallow a narrative in some circumstances and call it hogwash in others.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter May 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Well when there ARE actually things that can be refuted fine. Like say, where you were born, or when your parents came to America or where you went to school etc. Talking about an ex, un-named girlfriend? Please.

  6. ogenec May 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    We have a monumental election coming up. We should be talking about issues like (a) the respective limits of the free market and government intervention, (b) geopolitical issues like China, AfPaq, the Middle East, etc., (c) whether and how to strengthen the safety net. Among many other pressing issues. Instead, we’re obsessing about Ann Romney’s shirt and Obama’s girlfriends from 20 years ago. Figures.

    • Marie205 May 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      “Instead, we’re obsessing about Ann Romney’s shirt and Obama’s girlfriends from 20 years ago. Figures.”-ogenec

      Perfect statement on how I feel about this latest new media outrage. And just think we still have many more months until election day.

      • ladywalker68 May 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

        Marie205-I totally agree with you.

    • Ga6thDem May 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      This is because no one is offering any economic solutions other than more failed supply side crap. Since no one has anything to offer in that arena other than stuff we already know doesn’t work we might as well talk about junk like this because at least it’s something to talk about.

      • secularhumanizinevoluter May 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

        Well in point of fact the economy HAS gotten better. Is it going full bore? NO, but then the repugnantklan/teabaggers have blocked anything the Dems have put forward and concerned themselves with stripping womens and gay rights.

  7. Isis May 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people, I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology. With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of privacy.”

    I remember thinking that this was odd when I read his book 5 years ago because just like TM I could not really understand the reason for this approach. But unless there is something else I cant for the life of me understand how this can be dangerous. He is certainly not the first and only author to chose this approach and the fact that he disclosed it in his book right at the beginning of his story rules out any charge that he was trying to mislead readers.

    As regards unauthorized bios written by third parties, I tend to side with the public figures (Sarah Palin, The Obamas, the Clintons etc…) who recently openly and sometimes aggressively come out against them. If someone I have never met or spoken to decides to write a book about me, my story or my family’s, I personally would want to make if very clear to potential readers that I did not cooperate and would take as much distance as I can to the author’s own and very personal interpretation of things I have done and said.

    Therefore I don’t think Michelle’s reaction to Cantor’s book was OTT, no matter how well researched or unbiased her point of view was. And if an author decides to write such a book I think that person should stick to historic/objective facts that can be verified and not pretend to know about my feelings and my thoughts (as Jodi Cantor seems to have done in her book) because she most likely would have no clue. It is one of the reason I did not watch Game Change. Not a big fan of Sarah Palin, but making a movie about her without her contribution while she is still alive just felt a bit weird and disrespectful to me, even though it seems she was portrayed in a positive light in the movie.

  8. guyski May 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Isn’t this more about the media, then anything else?

  9. fairmindedindependent May 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I could care less about this also. The media should focus economic issues and foreign policy, but thats what our so called news networks care about. Taylor is right, were living in the age of Celebrity and its going to bite us soon enough.

    • T-Steel May 4, 2012 at 7:42 am #

      Anyone that tries to tell me that Presidential Elections ARE NOT over-produced made-for-TV movies (aka Hollywood) is drinking burnt coffee. And we are already getting bit by it fairmindedindependent. We’re about to see two campaigns pull out everything they can make each other look like the End-Times’ Herald.

  10. ladywalker68 May 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    This along with the Edwards trial….ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  11. StrideHyde May 4, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I’ve always maintained that Obama is a typical politician. Neither better nor worse than others. He’s sleeping in the bed he made when he pushed the idea he was about “new” politics. I have no sympathy.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong