I learned a long time ago that telling the truth is easier than lying because you only have to remember what happened, not what you said.
So I was bored but couldn’t sleep when I ran across this article at Ace of Spades trying futilely to prove that Obama was and is a secret radical. The article linked to a repost of a 1990 interview of Barack Obama while he was still at Harvard Law School:
His boyhood friends in Indonesia were street peddlers, and his grandmother still lives in a mud-walled house in Kenya.
But Barack Obama is another world away, presiding over the Harvard Law Review as the first black president in the prestigious journal’s 103-year history.
The charismatic 28-year-old, ensconced in the halls where tradition reigns, is taking aim at another custom: Obama’s sights are set on the South Side of Chicago, not on a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship or a fast-track career with, a cushy firm.
“I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I’m not interested in isolating myself,” Obama said in a recent interview. “I feel good when I’m engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what’s happening to poor folks in this society.”
His passion is rooted in his background. He was born in Hawaii, his father an Oxford and Harvard-educated economist from the African nation of Kenya, his mother a white anthropologist from Kansas.
Obama moved to Southeast Asia at age 2 when his parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian. Until the fifth grade. Obama attended Indonesian schools, where most of his friends were the sons of servants, street peddlers and farmers.
Concern for Obama’s education led his mother to return him to Hawaii, where he attended public schools through high school. In 1983, he graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science.
At a recent meeting in a Harvard cafeteria, his affinity with the underdog was readily apparent. “I lived in a country where I saw extreme poverty at a very early age,” Obama said. “Parts of my family in Kenya remain very poor. My grandmother still lives in a mud-walled house with no running water or electricity.
“That’s who I am, that’s where I come from, not always literally, but at least emotionally.”
Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988, and through a combination of grades and a writing competition, was elected to head the law review this February. He succeeded Peter Yu, a first generation Chinese-American. Obama cautions against reading too much into his election.
“It’s crucial that people don’t see my election as somehow a symbol of progress in the broader sense, that we don’t sort of point to a Barack Obama any more than you point to a Bill Cosby or a Michael Jordan and say ‘Well, things are hunky dory,’” Obama said.
“There’s certainly racism here. There are certain burdens that are placed, more emotionally at this point than concretely,” Obama said.
“Professors may treat black students differently, sometimes by being, sort of, more dismissive, sometimes by being more, sort of, careful because they think, you know, they think that somehow we can’t cope in the classroom,” he said.
Obama sees the inner cities as the front lines of racism.
“It’s critical at this stage for people who want to see genuine change to focus locally. And it is crucial that we figure out how to rebuild the core of leadership and institutions in these communities,” he said.
For five years before law school, Obama took on that task in Chicago. As the director of a program that tried to bring South Side churches, unions and block associations together on projects, Obama was not trying to solve local problems, he said. Instead he sought to construct something more lasting — a forum for the community, “I’m interested in organizations, not movements, because movements dissipate and organizations don’t,” Obama said.
America suffered when the movements of the 1960s dissipated, he said. Those movements succeeded in raising doubts about harmful traditions of sexism and racism, but failed to offer a viable alternative.
“Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous,” Obama said.
“I mean, I really hope to be part of a transformation of this country.”And the future of black people and of America generally? “It depends on how good I do my job,” he said.
The original article was written by Associated Press reporter Allison J. Pugh. It’s a reasonable assumption that the source of most or all of the information in the article was Obama himself. It’s a “tell me about yourself” puff piece. That’s why it’s so revealing – it’s evidence that Obama has a history of lying.
I’ll take these in the order they appear:
1. The article mentions Obama’s Kenyan grandmother twice, but never mentions that as of 1990 he had never met her and from all reports never gave her any financial assistance before her death in 2006. There is no mention of his other grandmother, the bank vice-president who raised him.
2. Obama may have set his sights on the South Side but after graduating he promptly sought a fast-track career position with a cushy politically-connected law firm. He also snagged a book deal and a sinecure as a part-time law professor. There is no record of him spending much time on the South Side since then, unless you want to count Hyde Park, which is the gentrified area where Obama owns a home (in the same neighborhood at Bill Ayers and Louis Farrakhan) or his attendance at Trinity United Church.
3. Obama moved to Indonesia when he was five, not two. Had he moved at the earlier age then his mother could never have received food stamps because they didn’t exist until 1965 when Obama turned four. If she did receive food stamps it was during the last year or so that she was finishing her degree at the University of Hawaii.
4. Obama requested to return to Hawaii when he was ten. He then lived with his well-to-do white grandparents while he attended Punahou School, a very exclusive private prep school.
5. The writing competition was eliminated the year Obama was selected to the Harvard Law Review. He was elected president of the law review at a meeting of all the members. He never published anything while on HLR.
None of these misstatements of fact are exactly earth shattering. But they fit a familiar pattern of Obama portraying his life as one of rags to riches. To paraphrase Ann Richards, he was born on third and keeps trying to convince people he hit a triple. They also show that this pattern started long before Obama started his political career.
The interview does not prove that Obama has radical roots. If anything it confirms that Obama is a political chameleon with no true ideology except self-advancement. When it was in his best interest to be a radical he blended in with the radical crowd but really never said or did anything that was particularly radical.
He’s never done anything to fight racism. Once he began rubbing elbows with machine politicians he abandoned his radical friends and adopted new ones like Tony Rezko. Then he went to Washington and remade himself again.