Report: Obama Pulls the Strings in Joe Biden’s White House

FILE - President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks in the South Cour
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

A new report from the Tablet online magazine alleges that former President Barack Obama is the power behind much of what happens in President Joe Biden’s White House, controlling key decisions through an army of Obama administration alumni.

The lengthy article, “The Obama Factor,” consists of a lengthy introduction by author David Samuels, followed by an interview with civil rights historian and Obama biographer David Garrow. The article covers a wide range of topics, including many areas that few journalists bothered to explore during his 2008 campaign and subsequent presidency, such as the fact that much of Obama’s first memoir, Dreams from my Father, was fiction; or that he had privately expressed having homosexual fantasies.

However, the most important portion for current political debates — made relevant by new reports that Obama had advised Biden on the dangers of a Trump candidacy in 2024 — is that Obama is the prime mover in his former vice president’s administration.

Samuels writes:

That Obama might enjoy serving as a third-term president in all but name, running the government from his iPhone, was a thought expressed in public by Obama himself, both before and after he left office. “I used to say if I can make an arrangement where I had a stand-in or front man or front woman, and they had an earpiece in, and I was just in my basement in my sweats looking through the stuff, and I could sort of deliver the lines while someone was doing all the talking and ceremony,” he told Steven Colbert in 2015, “I’d be fine with that because I found the work fascinating.” Even with all these clues, the Washington press corps—fresh off their years of broadcasting fantasies about secret communications links between Trump Tower and the Kremlin—seemed unable to imagine, let alone report on, Obama’s role in government.

Instead, every few months a sanitized report appears on some aspect of the ex-president’s outside public advocacy, presented within limits that are clearly being set by Obama’s political operatives—which conveniently elide the problems that are inherent in having a person with no constitutional role or congressional oversight take an active role in executive decision-making. Near the end of June, for example, Politico ran a long article noting Biden’s cognitive decline, with the coy headline “Is Obama Ready to Reassert Himself?”—as if the ex-president hadn’t been living in the middle of Washington and playing politics since the day he left office. Indeed, in previous weeks Obama had continued his role as central advocate for government censorship of the internet while launching a new campaign against gun ownership, claiming it is historically linked to racism. Surely, the spectacle of an ex-president simultaneously leading campaigns against both the First and Second Amendments might have led even a spectacularly incurious old-school D.C. reporter to file a story on the nuts and bolts of Obama’s political operation and on who was going in and out of his mansion. But the D.C. press was no longer in the business of maintaining transparency. Instead, they had become servants of power, whose job was to broadcast whatever myths helped advance the interests of the powerful.

Samuels adds, in a cautionary way:

In the absence of what was once American journalism, it is hard to know which portrait of Obama’s post-presidency is truer to life: Obama as a celebrity-obsessed would-be billionaire, or as a would-be American Castro, reshaping American society from his basement, in his sweats.

Several salient points emerge from the interview, such as that Samuels and Garrow agree that Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, Obamacare, was a “fraud”; that he was a failed president, at least on foreign policy, especially in Syria and Russia; and that he lacks empathy, or even strong convictions, other than his own importance.

They point to the Iran nuclear deal, which was a failure when it was signed, and which Biden has pursued quixotically despite the obvious lack of interest from the Iranian regime: all the players are Obama’s former staff, protecting their former boss’s legacy.

The two authors, in conversation, speculate that Obama’s strategy of boosting Iran as a regional power had to do with his sense of resentment toward Jewish self-determination — not out of antisemitism, but a feeling of envy vis-a-vis black communal identity.

Samuels describes Obama’s public persona as a literary creation by Obama himself: “So the conclusion I’ve come to in time is that that best way to understand Barack Obama is that he is a literary creation of Barack Obama, the writer, who authored the novel of his own life and then proceeded to live out this fictional character that he created for himself on the page.”

They also discuss Birtherism, and Obama’s reluctance to produce his true, “long-form” birth certificate: “I think that what Obama feared was that showing the birth certificate would make his Hawaiian-Kenyan-Indonesian outsiderness even more plain,” Samuels says at one point.

What they could have added is what Breitbart News uncovered in 2012: that Birtherism was likely an inadvertent creation of Obama himself, early in his career, when he (and his literary agent) spun a different version of his life story, one that he may have hoped would help him build a following as an aspiring writer, because it seemed more exotic than the actual facts of his birth.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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