City Journal Autumn 2014

Current Issue:

Autumn 2014
Table of Contents
Subscribe
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Charles C. Johnson
Six Hundred Pages in Search of an Insight « Back to Story

View Comments (15)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.


 
Showing 15 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
'Autobiography may be the highest form of fiction, as the saying goes, but it is still fiction, not “literature,”'

How is autobiography "fiction"? I'm baffled by this claim. Certainly some autobiographies are riddled with falsehoods, but so are some works of biography and history. They shouldn't be, of course. Unlike fiction, they are accounts of real events.

And how is autobiography not "literature"? What about the autobiographies of Benvenuto Cellini and Benjamin Franklin, the "Confessions" of St. Augustine, or "The Education of Henry Adams"?

I remain baffled.
William Baranowski August 19, 2012 at 4:46 AM
Meh.
Anyone with even a small brain knew the African-grandfather-tortured-by-the-evil-colonialists tale was a barefaced lie; Obama's father and African grandfather were Luos, while the Mau Mau rebellion was exclusively Kikuyu.

It is a measure of the quality of American journalism that numerous hacks regurgitated Obama's dishonest myth, an invention deliberately intended to make the wicked whites in Kenya look bad.
Good point in the review about books being pulled. I believe it was HarperCollins just last week recalling copies of a book about Thomas Jefferson because its author overplayed the Christian angle.

Here we have the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American electorate and the lib-liars of the media treat the fraudster's book like a fundamentalist Christain treats Scripture.
Ironic that something Breitbart calls shenanigans on tall-tales.
In defense of Obama, I would point out that many of the new revelations in Maraniss's book about factual errors in "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" probably came as news to the President as well. His family members were chronic and credulous tall tale tellers and they passed on a lot of whoppers to Obama. They liked making up stories and they were suckers for a good story.

For example, Obama describes his Indonesian stepfather as attractive to his mother in part because he came from a family of anti-colonialist freedom fighters who had suffered terribly for the cause of freedom. In truth, the Soetoros were a family of collaborators with the Dutch who kept a low profile during the independence fighting. Similarly, his Kenyan relatives' story about how his paternal grandfather was tortured by the British during the Mau-Mau uprising is likely, Maraniss concludes, hooey.

My impression is that the President is close to being the least unreliable narrator in his family.
Excellent review.

I would add that Maraniss's book documents at length something that I've long sensed about Obama: almost nobody who knew him ever saw him as a leader. For example, Obama wasn't even the leader of the Choom Gang of potheads at Punahou Prep, as Maraniss makes clear. Obama's friends and acquaintances generally saw him as an elegant and exotic accoutrement to their social scene, but not somebody you'd look to for leadership.
Could anyone else but Obama get away with books filled with outright lies about his past? Yet the mainstream media has so conditioned itself and the rest of us to be afraid to say anything negative about certain groups that they are incapable of doing it. By doing so, the Democratic media shows its fear, loathing and contempt for black Americans.

But it's more than that, much more - it's part of a decades long protection of Democratic candidates and politicians. JFK's first problems with the opposite sex arose during WWII when he had a dalliance with an alleged German spy - the FBI was in the next room recording everything (See Dan Simmon's book "The Crook Factory"). In disgust Joe Kennedy asked he be transferred to combat duty, where JFK distinguished himself as a PT Boat commander by promptly getting run over by a Japanese destroyer. In order to save embarrassment he was given a medal and later, a fawning Democratic media made a movie about it, that of course, played right into the myth: "PT 109."

But JFK's many adulteries, even when President were carefully hidden by a media that could say nothing bad about a Democratic candidate. Would they have done the same for a Republican? I think not. What's said is that "in the old days" the media protected politicians who couldn't control themselves - the truth is that the protection was there for Democratic politicians, not Republicans.

So when Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" the media knew full well what had gone on between Monroe and JFK, but of course, said not a word.

And so it goes. The National Enquirer, of all places, had story after story about John Edwards, but somehow none of it made the Democratic media until there was simply no choice but to cover it. Ditto Clinton and Monica - the excuses and protection of the Democratic media (along with a half million dollar payoff to NOW to get its support - or silence) allowed Clinton to remain in office. When a Democrat strays, it's called cute or ignored entirely, when a Republican does the same thing, it's called disgusting and they are hounded from office.

Yes there are exceptions but very VERY few.

Could any Republican have survived, as did Barney Frank, whose lover operated a brothel out of his apartment? Or Marion Barry, who made a political comeback even after being caught red handed smoking crack with a prostitute, at the same time that crack was devastating the young people of the city in which he was mayor?

Or take Bill Clinton, whose political career best exemplifies the protection and double standard of the Democratic media. Forget about the past - the lies, including perjury committed by Clinton - it was only a few short years ago that the same National Enquirer that had run stories on Edwards' foibles were running stories about Clinton as well. And what was the magazine saying about Clinton? Not just adulteries, but front page photographs of Clinton's long time mistress - all this plastered in magazines easily seen right in the supermarket checkout aisle. These stories were confirmed in the recent book "Game Changer" about the McCain campaign which discussed Hillary Clinton's concern about Bill Clinton's many adulteries and his long term relationship with the woman whose photograph was plastered on the front page of the National Enquirer.

Yet, somehow, the Democratic media (and, let's face it, the conservative media, which simply gave up on being able to communicate to the public on these issues) ignored the story, and continues to do so. In fact, Bill Clinton will speak at the Democratic convention, so his political career has been completely unaffected by his playing around, more or less at will, and with full knowledge of Democratic media.

Would this media have done the same for a Republican? The answer is "of course not." In fact, when the Democratic media has nothing they simply make it up, as they did with McCain and Bush I. Pure fabrications, but that's the way the game is played in the Democratic media, silence for one party, LIES for another.

So when it is found that Obama made up his auto-biography, that it is filled with lies of the worst sort meant to fit his story line, has the Democratic media said a word? It's is disgusting, how they can excuse someone who is almost pathological when it comes to telling the truth - truth simply doesn't matter.

In other words, forget about Clinton, JFK, Ted Kennedy (who, it was recently revealed, tried to rent out a brothel in Chile in the early 1960's), even Frank - what kind of a person makes up these phony stories for all the world to see - and check? And why did it take three years into his Presidency for people to know that much of what he put out in books about himself were lies?

In short, what kind of a man have we elected President? How could Obama, heck anyone write a book that contains so many falsehoods, how could he ever think it possible that he would get away with it?

The true irony, of course, is that he DID get away with the whole thing - that he not only got away with writing a book that had facts completely made up, but it is now known that he did it, and he has not suffered a bit from it. I've not even heard a word about it from the Administration, and you can bet the Democratic media won't be asking about it.

What does that say about American media? What does it say about Democrats? Should we ever expect the truth or anything close to it from Democratic politicians and candidates after this - what incentive is there to tell the truth, to have character, which seems to be utterly lacking in every Democratic leader on the planet.

It is frustrating when you realize the extent of what is going on, just frustrating.
One day in the future when you type 'Obama biography' on Amazon, the one in question will be on page 5. The effort made by Maraniss seems futile to me.
This book review must be David Maraniss's worst nightmare - - and deservedly so. Charles Johnson hit the nail on the head: "Barack Obama: The Story" attempts to make remarkable a man who has only become remarkable through the hype of his handlers. Enough self-promotion already. "Dreams of my Father" already conflated truth with lies. This new book is just more of the same.
"seamus": Still upset about riding on Romney's roof? "Obsessive and debilitating hatred for President Obama"? You may not like the review, but it's a very mild and most grounded criticism of Obama (and Maraniss). Do you think all criticism of Obama unjustified?
Histories, like philosophy, are not of much use to anyone unless we can glean from them some useful information, that is, unless we can use the pages, at least to some degree, to inform our own decision-making. Were it otherwise, "history" would be relegated to some distant corner of the library with books about macramé.

While Maraniss's book is undoubtedly well written, it is hardly illuminating.

When I took history, and I do not presume to pass myself off as an historian, my note-taking always concluded with “Sig.” -- the significance or meaning, as ascribed by the professor, of the preceding notes. His interpretation of historical events could either be accepted and regurgitated by the student in search of a good grade or could serve simply as a point of departure for those with a more scholarly cast of mind. I would argue that David Marraniss’s book, though rich in detail, casts little light on the facts of Obama's life and may therefore be safely placed in the macramé section. To most, Obama remains a mystery.

In his previous efforts Maraniss, by inclination a hagiographer of Democrat presidents, never solved the "Enigma of Clinton" and did not cast any new light on our reasons for being in Vietnam. He writes much and says little. This latest id definitely for Maraniss fans -- an aquired taste.
How pathetic. I realize that the author of this piece (and most of the readers of this journal) hold an obsessive and debilitating hatred for President Obama, but this sinks to the level of a middle school book report.
Terrrrrrific!
Obama is a joke, both figuratively and literally. I can just imagine his handlers in Chicago city hall and the DNC -- "And they'll actually buy it!" Laughter all around.

Who is Obama? Really? Just another Chicago politico, albeit a pretty strange one. Somebody obviously liked him -- you don't go from U of C law prof to Senate to President in a few years on your own.

Obama's a made man -- question is, then, who made him? The Democrats. But why? He had all the qualities of a good joke, unexpected, yet understandable, and touching something intimate.

Obama purposively obscures his past because it adds to his "mystery." It leads to articles in City Journal pondering the "deep question," who is this guy, anyway? That all works in Obama's favor.

But I have already answered it -- he is a joke. Jokes have a certain strange logic to them which can be interesting to ponder. But they are not serious. They are a relief from the material, mathematical world of work. That is what Obama represents.