Courtesy of David Maraniss’ new book, we now know that yet another key prop of Barack Obama’s identity is false: His Kenyan grandfather was not brutally tortured or even non-brutally detained by his British colonial masters. The composite gram’pa joins an ever-swelling cast of characters from Barack’s ‘memoir’ who, to put it discreetly, differ somewhat in reality from their bit parts in the grand Obama narrative. The best friend at school portrayed in Obama’s autobiography as ‘a symbol of young blackness’ was, in fact, half Japanese, and not a close friend. The white girlfriend he took to an off-Broadway play that prompted an angry post-show exchange about race never saw the play, dated Obama in an entirely different time zone, and had no such world-historically significant conversation with him. His Indonesian step-grandfather, supposedly killed by Dutch soldiers during his people’s valiant struggle against colonialism, met his actual demise when he ‘fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes.’
Does this matter? On one level it matters that the mainstream press nitpicks Sen. Marco Rubio’s immigrant family story, but ignores huge discrepancies in the president’s account. But then again, media bias isn’t news anymore. And you can make the case that Obama blatantly misrepresented his life story in his first run for the White House by allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of stories incorporating falsities to go unchallenged. But then again, most voters care more about his credibility in office than how he got to office.
The revelation of systematic fictionalization of Obama’s life does, however, matter in two important respects. First, as Steyn points out, it puts Obama squarely in the camp of professional victims. (“[T]he beneficiaries of boring middle-class Western life seek to appropriate the narratives and thereby enjoy the electric frisson of fashionable victim groups. And so it goes with public policy in the West at twilight.”) That is an insight into how Obama views the country and his preference for viewing every issue as a tale of exploitation. No wonder he wants an ever-expanding welfare state. We’re all victims of some oppressive sliver of society, and even if it’s not true, it should be. The irony of his unifying, post-partisan message is something to behold.
Even more critical, though, is the distinct possibility that Obama himself now has come to discount unflattering or just dull reality in favor of one in which “facts” are simply pieces to be manipulated in order to paint a portrait in which he is always the hero and “society” is endemically corrupt. He is the ultimate deconstructionist. Perhaps that is why he views opponents as liars or motivated by tawdry concerns. Whatever enhances his own image is “true,” while whatever does not is a plot to bamboozle the voters.
Obama is not a Muslim nor a socialist. He’s a fabulist. It’s a character fault you don’t want in a president, but it also makes him uniquely clueless and vulnerable. Facts are kryptonite, stripping away the veneer of greatness and reducing him to just another self-righteous liberal. And when confronted with truths that don’t elevate him, he is likely to be confounded. Self-delusion has a way of catching up with you.