Writing, even tangentially, about a book you’ve never read, without mentioning that fact, is both intellectually sloppy, and dishonest. I wish I could say I’m surprised to find Mark Steyn having done just that over at National Review Online, but I’d be lying. Even less surprising? He got the idea from something he’d seen on breitbart.com.
Steyn starts with a line from a bio of Obama, found on his literary agent’s website:
Barack Obama, the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”
From there, he goes into a lot of blather about Obama having lied about where he was born at that time, claiming a Kenyan birth that never was, what that says about who the President is, his relationship to American culture, blah, blah, blah. It might be vaguely interesting if the premise upon which it’s based were true, but it just isn’t.
First, to state the obvious, someone working for Obama’s agent said he was from Kenya. Not Obama himself. Since he did not yet have a book to promote, correcting an error in his bio wouldn’t have been anyone’s top priority.
Then there’s the book Obama did publish, in 1995, Dreams From My Father. It begins with the story of his parents relationship, its disintegration, and his birth, all of which took place in Hawaii. His first trip to Kenya also features prominently in the narrative. Looking at this logically, what kind of an idiot is going to tell his literary agent he was born in Kenya, when the book she’s going to be promoting on his behalf explicitly, repeatedly, states otherwise? Especially when his Hawaiian birth had been mentioned in publications including the New York Times, and the LA Times. After he’d told journalists he was born in Hawaii just a year before, why would he change his story for his agent, then change it back again for the actual book? In what universe does that make sense?
And really, if Obama had told anyone, anyone at all, he was born in Kenya, don’t you think we’d have heard from him or her by now?