Lloyd Billingsley, There’s Something About Barry.
“Listen, can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election? You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry.”
That was Barack Obama, campaigning in Pennsylvania for basement-bound Joe Biden, unable or unwilling to speak for himself, and perhaps ordered not to. Anyone tuning in might wonder why ex-president Barack would refer to himself as “Barry.” As some may have forgotten, he did the same in his founding narrative, Dreams from My Father, way back in 1995.
At the outset, he is Barry, stepson of Lolo Soetoro, the Indonesian foreign student his mother Ann Dunham married in 1966. By the end of the book Barry Soetoro has become Barack Obama, son of the Kenyan foreign student who died in a car accident in 1982. The retooled Barack went on to become a U.S. senator and the 44th president of the United States. A few months after he left office, official biographer David Garrow delivered a bombshell review of the president’s founding narrative.
“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 (Garrows’ italics). 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.”
To spot-weld the Pulitzer Prize winner, Dreams was a novel and the author a fictitious character. Garrow’s massive Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama provides other revelations about the man who in 2020 again calls himself Barry. In Indonesia, for example, Barry attended the “predominately Muslim” Besuki school, hardly his only influence.
Barry’s beloved Frank Marshall Davis, the poet “Frank” in the novel, was a dangerous subversive on DETCOM, the FBI’s most wanted list of Communists marked for immediate detention in case of a national emergency. As Garrow explains, “Davis’ Communist background plus his kinky exploits made him politically radioactive.” So Frank duly vanished from the audio version of Dreams and made no appearance in The Audacity of Hope.
“You masquerade, you pompous jive, you act,” girlfriend Genevieve Gook wrote in a poem to Barry. “You think you got it taken care of, but I’m tellin’ you bro, you don’t.” Pompous Barry took it in stride. He hooked up with the erudite Sheila Miyoshi Jager, who told Garrow she was “completely missing” from Dreams and wonders “if the unedited Dreams is as inaccurate as the published version.” On the other hand, Barry has a lot to say about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Barry “felt at home,” in Wright’s church, and it was the explicitly political aspect to the message, “that I found appealing.” Barry also spends time with Weather Underground alums Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, but as he told Garrow, “it wasn’t until I moved to Chicago and became a community organizer that I think I really grew into myself in terms of my identity.” On that theme, Garrow omits a key detail.
In his written communications from 1958 to 1964, including more than 20 letters, the Kenyan Barack Obama mentions nothing about an American wife and Hawaiian-born son. Still, Barry had strong disagreements over Rising Star, but other books shed light on his presidential career.
As Sharyl Attkisson noted in Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, the president said he campaigned in 57 states, invented the “Austrian” language, and thought Savannah was on the Gulf Coast. The administration targeted “those on to something big,” such as the “Fast and Furious” scandal. The liberal Attkisson found her computer infiltrated with spyware proprietary to government agencies such as the CIA and FBI.
Establishment media and government formed such an interlocking directorate, Attkisson found, that “stories may as well have been written by the White House.” On Obamacare, journalists accepted everything from the government at “face value,” with critics demonized, the familiar pattern of a totalitarian state.
The president who did all that, told people they could keep their health plan, and shipped billions in cash to Iran, is now campaigning for his addled vice president Joe Biden. Should Biden be victorious, as some see it, Democrats would quickly deploy the 25th Amendment to topple Biden and install Kamala Harris. After the election, meanwhile, another dynamic kicks in.
On Tuesday November 17, Penguin Random House will release A Promised Land, the first of two volumes by former president Barack Obama. As he explains, the 768-page book will provide “an honest accounting” of his presidential campaign and thoughts on “how we can heal the divisions in our country going forward and make our democracy work for everybody.”
The former president clearly expects to call the shots, so voters have good cause to consider him still on the ballot. This time, however, they know for certain that his founding narrative, Dreams from My Father is a novel, and the author Barack Obama a fictitious character. That might simplify voters’ task on November 3. As President Trump says, we’ll have to see what happens.