No, it’s not the latest theory from the Birther fever swamps. It’s part of the short 1991 biography of Barack Obama written by Acton and Dystel, the New York literary agency that had just won the young Harvard lawyer a six-figure book deal with Simon and Schuster. Obama’s biography appears in Acton and Dystel’s industry promotion materials alongside biographies of other notables including Ralph Nader and Tip O’Neill:
“Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago’s South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White.”
Neither the folks at Breitbart, nor anyone else with credibility, thinks this is “proof” of Birther consipracy theories. But what we do think is that we are seeing a classic example of affirmative action opportunism.
There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama knew what this bio said. It wasn’t corrected until 2007, when Obama began exploring a run for the Presidency. So for sixteen years he was comfortable with his former literary agent proudly showcasing his Kenyan ancestry, fudged by a false claim to native Kenyan birth, as part of their commitment to diversity. Likewise, Elizabeth Warren had no problem with Harvard University showcasing her alleged Cherokee ancestry as a part of Harvard’s commitment to diversity. Both instances only became problematic when other people started asking questions that Ivy League elites were either too polite or too far in denial to ask.
And about those questions. Why didn’t anyone in the mainstream media ask the Obama campaign about this in 2008? If they would have invested just half the resources they committed to vetting Sarah Palin into a similar effort to research Barack Obama’s past, this should have been an easy find. So what happened?
First allegations of attempted bribery with respect to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, now a clear example of willful fraud designed to boost his credibility as an expert on multiculturalism. Was this the kind of man America thought they were voting for in 2008? I’m getting the popcorn ready right now, because this is shaping up to be quite a summer for election politics.
Extra points for any commenter who wants to write a Solomon Grundy rhyme about “Barack Obama, Born in Kenya …”