Last Saturday, when President Barack Obama spoke at the funeral of Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democrat and World War II hero who had represented Hawaii, he audaciously told a tale about when Inouye first inspired him that directly contradicted another fib from his memoir, Dreams From My Father.
Obama said Inouye inspired him when he watched the Watergate hearings with his mother “every night” in motels as they were touring across the United States one summer in his youth.
As Jack Cashill noted at The American Thinker, though, “this story would work only if Obama had toured the United States during the summer of the Watergate hearings, 1973, when he was eleven years old going on twelve, but in his memoir Dreams from My Father, he tells another story–a much more specific one.”:
Yes, he made the same trip, but he did so “during the summer after my father’s visit to Hawaii, before my eleventh birthday.” This would have been 1972, when Watergate was still a third-rate burglary that had gotten little media traction.
In Dreams, Obama mentioned a Kansas City stop along the way, and Madelyn’s youngest brother in suburban KC would later provide photographic evidence of the same. He confirmed the year as 1972. This disparity did not stop Obama from relating in Dreams how in that elusive summer he “watched the Watergate hearings every night before going to bed.” There was no mention of Senator Inouye. He was apparently trying to make some other point.
In his tribute to Inouye, Obama said:
Now, even though my mother and grandparents took great pride that they had voted for him, I confess that I wasn’t paying much attention to the United States Senate at the age of four or five or six. It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I recall even learning what a U.S. senator was, or it registering, at least. It was during my summer vacation with my family–my first trip to what those of us in Hawaii call the Mainland.
On the trip, Obama said he, along with his mother, grandmother, and sister, went to Seattle, Disneyland, Kansas, Yellowstone, and Chicago. And while they were staying at “local motels or Howard Johnson’s,” Obama claimed his
mother that summer would turn on the TV every night during this vacation and watch the Watergate hearings. And I can’t say that I understood everything that was being discussed, but I knew the issues were important. I knew they spoke to some basic way about who we were and who we might be as Americans.
Obama said Inouye fascinated him because he was an “accomplished” person who was not out of “central casting”:
And so, slowly, during the course of this trip, which lasted about a month, some of this seeped into my head. And the person who fascinated me most was this man of Japanese descent with one arm, speaking in this courtly baritone, full of dignity and grace. And maybe he captivated my attention because my mom explained that this was our senator and that he was upholding what our government was all about. Maybe it was a boyhood fascination with the story of how he had lost his arm in a war. But I think it was more than that.
Now, here I was, a young boy with a white mom, a black father, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. And I was beginning to sense how fitting into the world might not be as simple as it might seem. And so to see this man, this senator, this powerful, accomplished person who wasn’t out of central casting when it came to what you’d think a senator might look like at the time, and the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation I think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life.
So, in essence, Obama fibbed about watching the Watergate hearings with his mother in his composite memoir. And then used the false–and debunked–timeline from his memoir to conveniently tell another tall tale about when Inouye inspired him.
And Obama did this as he was honoring Inouye at his funeral.