Obama biographer says ex-president ‘as insecure as Trump

Biographer David Garrow revealed Obama was ‘infuriated’ that Garrow called his memoir ‘historical fiction’.

Biographer David Garrow revealed Obama was ‘infuriated’ that Garrow called his memoir ‘historical fiction’.

A 16,000-plus word interview with former President Barack Obama’s award-winning biographer has raised eyebrows for an assortment of reasons, ranging from his renewed allegation that Obama’s first memoir was fictionalized to the observation he’s as “insecure” as political rival Donald Trump.

Tablet’s lengthy Q&A with historian David Garrow, who wrote the lengthy 2017 biography “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,” has stunned social media with its various claims about the former president, who remains one of the Democratic Party’s most popular and influential figures. The New York Times reviewed Garrow’s biography as an “impressive if gratuitously snarly” book that “clearly intended to break the 44th president’s monopoly on his personal narrative.”

The feature began with a tale of Sheila Miyoshi Jager, who was Obama’s girlfriend in the 1980s well before his political career, allegedly saying their relationship ended when “he would not condemn antisemitism.” Tablet made it clear that Obama’s version of the breakup was much different in his own book, as he indicated embracing “Black racial consciousness” clashed with his White girlfriend.

“Whose version of the story is correct? Who knows. The bridge between the two accounts is Obama’s emerging attachment to Blackness, which required him to fall in love with and marry a Black woman. In Obama’s account, his attachment to Blackness is truthful and noble. In Jager’s account, his claims are instrumental and selfish; he grants particularism to the experience and suffering of his own tribe while denying it to others,” Tablet’s David Samuels wrote in the preamble that also put a spotlight on “Obama’s hostility to American exceptionalism.”

Samuels then dove into the Q&A with Garrow, who also penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bearing the Cross.” The famed biographer’s conversation with Samuels shocked many readers, with various allegations circulating on social media.

Here are the most eyebrow-raising tidbits:

Not normal

“He’s not normal — as in not a normal politician or a normal human being,” Garrow said after telling a story about Obama’s lawyer warning him not to ask about his father.

Garrow later referred to Obama as “a creature from another planet” when discussing his wife Michelle Obama being raised by a close, loving family.

Letters to an old girlfriend

“With Alex [McNear, Obama’s girlfriend at Occidental College], I think she wanted to have her role known. So when Alex showed me the letters from Barack, she redacted one paragraph in one of them and just said, ‘It’s about homosexuality,’” Garrow said before explaining that a man named Harvey Klehr was tasked with going through the letters, which are at Emory University.

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“He’s spent his whole life at Emory, but they won’t let him take pictures. So Harvey has to sit there with a pencil and copy out the graph where Barack writes to Alex about how he repeatedly fantasizes about making love to men,” Garrow said.

Letters to an old girlfriend

“With Alex [McNear, Obama’s girlfriend at Occidental College], I think she wanted to have her role known. So when Alex showed me the letters from Barack, she redacted one paragraph in one of them and just said, ‘It’s about homosexuality,’” Garrow said before explaining that a man named Harvey Klehr was tasked with going through the letters, which are at Emory University.

Garrow feels Obama’s “Dream from My Father” was fabricated

“He wants people to believe his story. For me to conclude that ‘Dreams from My Father’ was historical fiction — oh God, did that infuriate him,” Garrow said. “He doesn’t want the writerliness challenged. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The book [‘Dreams’] is so fictionalized.”

Garrow continued: “It’s so inaccurate, whether about the dynamics among the guys in Hawaii or what’s going on in the community group on the far South Side [of Chicago]. And it 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.”

Garrow revealed he spoke with Obama for eight hours in three off-the-record sessions while he was still president. He was derisive about Obama, saying the things he shared that most “energized” him were “hilariously inconsequential,” like boasting about being fluent in Indonesian in his youth.
Garrow made the same “historical fiction” charge in “Rising Star.”

“He further accuses [Obama] of inventing a racial identity struggle that never happened and retrofitting his early life story to conform to it,” New York Times writer Brent Staples wrote in his review of “Rising Star.”

Samuels has questions about Obama’s current role.

“He lives in a large brick mansion in Kalorama. Doesn’t it strike you as weird that he’s an ex-president, he’s comparatively young, and he’s living in the center of Washington, D.C.? The original excuse was that Sasha had to finish school. Then you could say, ‘Well, the opposition to Trump needs a figure to rally around.’ But now Sasha has graduated from USC, Trump is gone, Joe Biden was elected present, but he’s still there,” he said.

“Doesn’t that strike you as odd? I mean, I have heard from more than one source that there are regular meetings at Obama’s house in Kalorama involving top figures in the current White House, with Secret Service and cars outside. I don’t write about it because it’s not my lane,” Samuels continued. “There are over a thousand reporters in Washington, and yet there are zero stakeouts of Obama’s mansion, if only to tell us who is coming and going. But he clearly has his oar in.”

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Obama is ‘just as insecure as Trump’

“He has no interest in building the Democratic Party as an institution. I think that’s obvious. And I don’t think he had any truly deep, meaningful policy commitments other than the need to feel and to be perceived as victorious, as triumphant. I’ve sometimes said to people that I think Barack is actually just as insecure as Trump, but in ways that are not readily perceived by the vast majority of people. I think that’s probably my most basic takeaway,” Garrow said.

“But it does go back to ‘Dreams’ being a work of fiction, that the absence of an actual personal story makes him need to compose one,” he continued. “For every time he says, ‘Oh, I spent years reading the history of the civil rights movement,’ I know he read [Garrow’s book ‘Bearing the Cross’], but I don’t think he read much else. This is someone who … 98 percent of his reading has always been fiction, not history.”

Obama would be ‘too lazy for a spot on the Supreme Court

“He’d be terrible because he’s too lazy. This is in the book. It goes back to him being Hawaiian. At one point, he says, ‘I’m fundamentally lazy and it’s because I’m from Hawaii.’ That’s close to the actual quote,” Garrow said.

Obsession with celebrities

“I’ve always found [Barack and Michelle Obama’s] need to hang out with celebrities bizarre. Because the people they both were, all the way up through at least 2000, would’ve had no desire to do that. It wouldn’t have crossed their minds to be with Beyoncé and Jay-Z or Richard Branson, or you name it,” Garrow said.

“Black people in Chicago, everyone, Jerry Wright, Hermene Hartman, they’re not surprised that Barack turned into someone else,” he continued. “But they can’t explain why Michelle turned into someone else.”
Samuels added: “He’s happy to go on NPR and talk about meaning or Marilynne Robinson novels or whatever, to make the wine moms identify with him, so he can put one over on them. Just don’t ask him to visit the hospital when you get cancer, because he’ll be hanging out on someone’s yacht, with the other winners.”

With Fox News report

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