Though it quickly became an Internet punchline, Attack Watch should not be dismissed. Attack Watch is paid for and an extension of Obama for America, which is part of BarackObama.com, the online campaign hub for the White House. That means that the Obama campaign itself has decided to comment on the Breitbart News’ exclusive surrounding a 1991 booklet published by President Obama’s literary agency which falsely claimed the President was born in Kenya. It’s also worth noting that this claim extended to the lit agency’s website until 2007, two months after Obama announced his candidacy for president.
What’s fascinating about the Obama campaign’s response is the many questions it leaves unanswered:
Fact: The Breitbart bloggers chose to ignore the very clear facts that belie their claim.
The literary agent who put together the 1991 pamphlet in question noted that, “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.” The mistake in the pamphlet was the result of “nothing more than a fact checking error” by the agent.
Despite the Breitbart bloggers’ claim that the booklet was an attempt to manipulate some carefully crafted persona, numerous news outlets had already reported the President as Hawaiian-born. A year before the pamphlet’s release in 1991, a New York Times article on Barack Obama’s election to head the Harvard Law Review reported correctly, “Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.”
As far as that first bullet point, what the Obama camp won’t tell you is that Breitbart News made numerous attempts to contact the literary agency without receiving any kind of response. Once the agency finally released a statement, we published it.
But it’s the combination of both bullet points that’s most revealing. We’ve since learned that the agency in question, Dystel & Goderich, asks writers to submit their own bios, and if our President had an “R” after his name, this is the thread that would be pulled to launch a thousand mainstream media questions, the most obvious among them being: Did Obama submit his own bio? If so, what did it say? How in the world does someone mistakenly assume an American citizen was born in Africa? This may well be a “fact checking error,” but it’s an awfully bizarre one with an origin that deserves an explanation. Moreover, did Obama ever see the 16-year-long error and request it be fixed? Was he ever asked to proof the bio?
There’s no mistaking the fact that there’s a legitimate narrative surrounding Obama that involves the way in which both he and those around him engage in myth-making. Even Obama protectors like Politico admitted as much as recently as just a few weeks ago:
Yet, make no mistake, [the upcoming David Maraniss biography] is a dangerous book for Obama, and White House staffers have been fretting about it in a low-grade way for a long, long time — in part because it could redefine the self-portrait Obama skillfully created for himself in 1995 with “Dreams from My Father.”
And yet, the literary agency that handled this “skillfully created self-portrait” known as “Dreams from My Father” is the same literary agency that falsely claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This potential new piece of a puzzle, though, has only been met with dismissiveness by Politico (along with the rest of the media).
After what we’ve learned and are still learning about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the number of questions worth asking about the “skillfully created self-portrait” of Barack Obama only grows. The media has made clear that what Mitt Romney did a half-century ago as a teenager is fair game. Barack Obama is a sitting United States president and was a grown man in 1991 (and in 2007). If either he or those around him were intentionally primping his biography, we have a right to know.