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Vetting Obama

Posted by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM
  • 211 Replies

In May, a brochure was made public about Obama.  It was a brochure originally created in 1991 that contained a biography about him, that was written BY him, and it stated that he was born in Kenya.  Since then, it was revised, but the part about being born in Kenya was kept in. Here is an excerpt, but the whole thing including a picture of the actual brochure, is all over the web.

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.

It has been out over 3 months, yet Obama has not commented on it.

LET'S ASSUME THAT HE WAS REALLY BORN IN HAWAII (this may or may not be true in light of Arpaio's recent findings, but that would be a different post) 

So, is it okay that he lied for over 15 years?  IF WE HAD KNOW THIS BEFORE THE LAST ELECTION WOULD HE HAVE EVEN WON THE PARTY'S NOMINATION AND WOULD HAVE WON THE ELECTION?  How come it took so long to be made public?  Lying for over 15 years is definitely something anyone would want to know about a candidate's character.  What makes it okay that he lied?  Should he come out and address it?

by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM
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by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM
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KICKING A DEAD HORSE ISN'T FUN FOR ANYONE. (Since we're shouting and all....)

by Ruby Member on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:26 AM
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His father ws Kenyan, he was born in Hawaii to a US citizen. No vetting needed.

by Silver Member on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:30 AM
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More vetting of his political philosophy as influnced by Franklin Marshall Davis should have been vetted during the last election cycle.  It should still be done this time around, but I won't hold my breathe waiting for all of the media sources to ask Obama about it.  Even if the media did ask Obama about it, he would probably say something like, "Mr. Marshall was just someone his grandparents hung out with....."

by Platinum Member on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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This is seriously important, and I think you are wasting your keen insight here on CM. I think if you made one of those twirling signs and went out to a street corner, you'd get your message across to far more people. Real Americans are counting on you!
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by Bazinga! on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM
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 I miss Candlegal

by Wenchy on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM
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I saw this elsewhere.... It was a biography written by someone else. 

And if you bothered to read the post....  the question is not about where Obama was born. It was about his misrepresenting himself for 15 years. Is that acceptable?

by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:45 AM
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Literary Agent Says 1991 Booklet was a Mistake

Breitbart News reports on a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency which describes the author as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii." 

Miriam Goderich issued the following statement to Political Wire

"You're undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time.  There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.  I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more."

by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Really? This again? Why not focus on his shortcomings in office? This did not prevent his election 4yrs ago and it certainly won't this time again. Bring all this up is a waste of time.
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by on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM
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Obama's Literary Agency Error: A Clarification and Rebuttal
Posted: 05/22/2012 3:51 pm

When posted a story this weekpresenting a pamphet Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, published in 1991, it raised a firestorm of controversy due to Obama's biography listing his birthplace as Kenya as opposed to Hawaii. And while the Breitbart editors clearly state they do not believe Obama was born in Kenya, refuting 'birtherism,' the clear insinuation is that Obama had a hand in crafting this incorrect biography in order to make his origins sound more worldly, exotic, and therein perhaps more attractive to publishers.

The following point are not meant to take a side on the left-right debate, but simply to present a fuller picture of the pamphlet in question and the accusations made. I firmly believe, asMiriam Goderich, the then-assistant who wrote Obama's bio for the 1991 pamphlet, stated, that the error was clerical on her part and not a part of some grand scheme orhcestrated to massage Obama's past. Here are the reasons I believe this was, in fact, an honest error, stated without editorializing:

1) The Acton & Dystel pamphlet was meant for distribution within the publishing industry alone. It was printed to promote the agency as much, if not more, than its authors. This would be seen by industry insiders alone, not the general public.

2) In 1991, the then 30 (or 29, depending on when the pamphlet was printed) year-old Obama was a very minor author on the Acton & Dystel client list. He had no national prominence, and had not yet published any books. The incentive for a literary agency to knowingly fabricate the biography of one of its lesser authors, compared to the backlash it would receive if proved false, was minimal at best. If a publisher purchased a biography by an author, only then to find out something as large as his birthplace had been fabricated, they would likely question everything else the author had to say, possibly cancel the contract, and limit future business with that author's agency. Again, not much upside for the agency to knowingly lie about Obama's birthplace.

3) In 1991 the internet was a fledging thing. As Breitbart states, the current Dystel & Goderich website asks authors to submit their own biographies. To respond to that:

a) Dystel & Goderich is a separate agency from Acton & Dystel.

b) In 2012, or more recently, it is easy for authors to submit their biographies online and to fine-tune any promotional material. In 1991, it was much less common. For a prominent A&D author recognizable to anyone reading, such as Joe Montana, extra pains would be taken to ensure all material was as accurate as possible, and biographical details would be much easier to find and confirm. It is more likely for an aspiring author like Obama that the agents would simply write the authors' bios. Remember that the 1991 pamphlet had 90 authors in it. In 2012 it would be easy to send a mass email to your client list asking for an updated biography, or to fact check promotional material. In 1991 it would likely mean making several dozen phone calls. Bad business to not confirm every author's bio? Undoubtedly. But malicious and obfuscating? Doubtful.

4) When Dreams From My Father was published in 1995, the original dust jacket states "his father's departure from Hawaii when Barack was only two", a clear insinuation that Obama was born in Hawaii. Nowhere in any material, either in the book or jacket copy, does it state that Obama was born in Kenya. The reason this is important is because if, as Breitbart posits, Obama wanted to appear more worldly, it would be of far greater significance to write that on a dust jacket, which would be seen by the general populace and the media, rather than simply on a pamphlet going to a few hundred publishing industry insiders.

5) Dreams From My Father sold modestly, perhaps even poorly, upon first publication, to the extent that it went out of print. Because Obama never wrote, or attempted to sell another book, it would stand to reason the agency (which represented dozens of authors currently writing) would not consider it a high priority to update the biography of a dormant client.

6) Websites for literary agencies, in the 1990s, were seldom as well as reasonably archaic. It was not as easy to update a website as it is now. Whereas Andrew Breitbart was in many ways a legitimate internet pioneer, very few would bestow that moniker on the publishing industry at large.

7) Sometime after the publication of Dreams From My Father, Obama changed literary agents, switching from Acton & Dystsel (which became Dystel & Goderich) to Washington D.C. lawyer and agent Robert Barnett (who represents many politicians, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin). It stands to reason that, if Obama left the Dystel umbrella, they would have no need to revise his biography, as their only title with him was out of print and they would not be representing any future works.

8) Dreams From My Father was republished following Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention, widely seen as the first time he achieved national prominence. Dreams From My Father then became a massive No. 1 bestseller, nearly a decade after its original publication. Crown, which originally published Dreams in 1995, still retained the rights to the book, which meant it was not necessary to renegotiate a contract with the Dystel agency.

9) In 2007, according to Breitbart, the Dystel website finally updated Obama's biography to state his correct birthplace of Hawaii. It was in 2007 that Obama announced his candidacy for President, and began to more heavily scrutinized. Hence the Dystel website finally updating the biography of Obama, who had not been an active client of theirs since the mid-1990s.

Now, none of this is meant to definitively say what was in Obama's heart and head in 1991. It is possible that he saw the original Dystel & Acton brochure and approved it, and the Breibart theories are correct. However, looking at the issue dispassionately, it makes far, far more sense to me that this was simply a case of manual error that went unnoticed or unfixed for various, legitimate, reasons that are not part of a larger conspiracy. I do not carry water for Obama and certainly believe the President can, fairly, be attacked on his record, but I also do not believe this document shows what the Breitbart post insinuates it shows.

I am positive that this article will not change the mind of those who wholeheartedly believe that President Obama was born in Kenya. Yet hopefully it will cause a few who read the Breitbart piece to examine the issue a little more fully closely, in order to come to a more informed conclusion, whatever that may be.

Jason Pinter is the Senior Marketing Manager for Grove/Atlantic and Mysterious Press, as well as the bestselling author of five thrillers (the most recent of which are The Fury and The Darkness), as well as the ebook exclusive FAKING LIFE, which have nearly 1.5 million copies in print in nearly 20 countries. His first novel for young readers, Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy!, was published in November 2011. Visit him at or follow him on Twitter.

by Member on Jul. 18, 2012 at 10:50 AM
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Here are the many other facts that support it.

1.  The publisher's policy is to have the individual write his/her own biography, and so Barack Obama is the one who provided the information about the place of his birth

2.  The brochure was re-printed at least one and maybe several times.  Other changes were made, but not his place of birth

So if it was a fact checking error, wouldn't Obama have noticed that it was wrong?  

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