“Whatever you do. Don’t ask him about his father.”
That was Bob Bauer, lawyer for President Obama, to biographer David Garrow as he prepared to interview the president for the Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, released in 2017.
“Barack Obama devoted dozens of hours to reading the first ten chapters of this manuscript,” Garrow says on page 1084, and had “remaining disagreements – some strong indeed – with multiple characterizations and interpretations” in the book. Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has some rather strong disagreements with Obama.
“I’ve always thought that the whole Obamacare thing was, in large part, a fraud.” And as for Obama, “he’s not normal—as in not a normal politician or a normal human being.”
That was Garrow to David Samuels in a rambling August 2 Tablet interview headlined “The Obama Factor.” Barack Obama is the author of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, published in 1995. Here is what Garrow said about it in Rising Star:
“Dreams from My Father was not a memoir or an autobiography; it was instead, in multitudinous ways, without any question a work of historical fiction. It featured many true-to-life figures and a bevy of accurately described events that indeed had occurred, but it employed the techniques and literary license of a novel, and its most important composite character was the narrator himself.”
“He wants people to believe his story,” Garrow told Samuels. “For me to conclude that Dreams from My Father was historical fiction—oh God, did that infuriate him.” Samuels, who also writes for Harpers, the Atlantic and New York Times Magazine, countered that “the pose of being a writer is actually one that he prefers in many ways to being a politician.”
“Oh God, yes. Yes, yes, yes,” said Garrow, “He doesn’t want the writerliness challenged. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The book [Dreams] is so fictionalized.”
In the Dreams novel, the father is the Kenyan Barack Obama, a student at the University of Hawaii. The Kenyan “bequeaths his name” to the American, and by the end of the novel, he becomes a nameless “old man.”
In all his written communications from 1958-1964, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, the Kenyan Barack Obama makes not a single mention of an American wife and son. Perhaps that is why President Obama never accessed the archive.
The Dreams author, formerly known as Barry Soetoro, devotes more than 2,000 words to a happy-drunk black poet known only as “Frank.” In Rising Star, Garrow identifies “Frank” as Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist pornographer.
Paul Kengor’s The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis – The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor, revealed “remarkable similarities” between the politics of the Dreams author and Davis, a Stalinist who dedicated most of his life to the all-white dictatorship of the Soviet Union. Davis also bears strong physical resemblance to the Dreams author, who at Occidental College penned a poem to a black poet he calls “Pop.”
The rising star would “forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis,” Garrow wrote, and “Davis’ Communist background plus his kinky exploits made him politically radioactive.” That is why Barry needed the “historical fiction” of Dreams from My Father, the story about the Kenyan foreign student. Garrow called out the book as fictional, but came up a bit short on the author’s plagiarism.
In Dreams, the author visits Kenya and the account bears remarkable similarities to I Dreamed of Africa, published in 1991, and the 1994 African Nights. Both books are the work of Italian writer Kuki Gallmann, a longtime resident of Kenya.
In African Nights, Gallmann and company “camped in the area of Narok, one of the main centers of the proud Maasai tribe.” In Dreams from My Father, the American travels to Narok, “a small trading town where we stopped for gas and lunch.”
In I Dreamed of Africa and African Nights, the reader finds “the ink-black of Arap Langat” and “the ink-black darkness” where fish are approaching. Under a slate sky lies the “ink-black turmoil of the ocean.” Dreams of My Father speaks of “ink-black stairwells” and “tall ink-black Luos and short brown Kikuyus.” In Kenya, men “dive into inky-black waters.” And so on, with many other passages too similar to be accidental.
Back in 2008, David Samuels re-read Dreams from My Father and came upon the passage where Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro, takes Barry into the back yard and teaches him to fight.
“Wait a minute, I know this scene,” Samuels told Garrow. “And then I went back and found the battle royal scene in The Invisible Man.
“Each of us was issued a pair of boxing gloves and ushered out into the big mirrored hall,” Ralph Ellison wrote. “A glove smacked against my head. . . Blows pounded me from all sides while I struck out as best I could.”
In Dreams, Barry has a tussle with a boy down the road. The next day, Lolo “had two pairs of boxing gloves,” and they lace them up. “Keep your hands up,” Lolo tells Barry. “You want to keep moving but always stay low. Don’t give them a target.” And so forth.
“Right, right, right,” says Garrow, who also noted that Dreams “completely omits women. I’ve always thought that there’d eventually be a feminist critique of Obama because his mother and all the girlfriends—they’re not there. They don’t exist.”
As Garrow reveals, the Dreams author wrote to Alex McNear, his girlfriend at Occidental College, “about how he repeatedly fantasizes about making love to men.” Samuels is more curious about the composite character’s actions in office, for example, the Iran deal.
“I do find the Iran deal offensive and puzzling,” Garrow said. “I mean, it’s an explicitly antisemitic state.” As Samuels notes, Obama is “fixated on Iran after the Iran deal failed.” The easy explanation is that “Joe Biden is not running that part of his administration. Obama is. He doesn’t even have to pick up the phone because all of his people are already inside the White House.”
True to form, as Fred Fleitz explains, Biden is planning to evade Congress with a “secret nuclear deal with Iran.” The composite character president was also fixated on normalizing relations with Cuba, a Communist state.
“I also found the Cuba thing deeply puzzling and offensive,” Garrow said. “It’s a fucking dictatorship that imprisons all sorts of truly progressive, creative people.” Many of the regime’s political prisoners are black but in the style of Frank, Obama is basically uncritical of the regime’s all-white Stalinist dictatorship. But then, as David Garrow says, the composite character is not a normal politician or human being.
In one of his first actions, Obama canceled missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic, and Garrow laments his “failure to object to Russia taking Crimea and the Donbas.”
“For Barack, everything has to be a success,” Garrow explained. “Everything has to be a victory.” And on his own terms, Obama may be the most successful president ever. He transformed the nation into a place where the outgoing president picks his successor and deploys the FBI and DOJ to help Hillary Clinton and harm candidate and President Donald Trump.
“From the first time I saw it,” Garrow said, “I realized that Christopher Steele’s shit was just complete crap. It was bad corporate intelligence, even. It was nonsensical.” Samuels is also concerned.
“A new milieu had been created consisting of party operatives, the people in the FBI and the CIA who are carrying out White House policy, and the press,” Samuels explains. “That’s something people still seem loathe to admit, even to themselves, in part because it puts them in a state of dissonance with this new kind of controlled consensus that the press maintains, which is obviously garbage. But if you question it, you’re some kind of nut.”
The interview keeps returning to Dreams from My Father, which biographer David Garrow exposed as a novel, infuriating the president.
“There was something about this fictional character that he created actually becoming president,” contends Samuels, “that helped precipitate the disaster that we are living through now.” The nation has been transformed into a “Gilded Age oligarchy” by Obama, the “Magic Negro of the billionaire industrial complex.”
See the full interview for more insight on the man David Garrow says is not a normal politician or normal human being.