Who’s up for an 8000 word piece on the early love life of Barack Obama? (Updated)

posted at 3:21 pm on May 2, 2012 by Morgen Richmond

David Maraniss has a very long, occasionally fascinating piece in Vanity Fair, an excerpt from an upcoming book where he recounts the story of two early romances of Barack Obama’s during the years he lived in New York. If this sounds ponderous it mostly is, but buried deep within Maraniss’ piece is some real reporting.

In Dreams from My Father, Obama chose to emphasize a racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman he described as his New York girlfriend.

“One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.”

None of this happened with Genevieve. She remembered going to the theater only once with Barack, and it was not to see a work by a black playwright. When asked about this decades later, during a White House interview, Obama acknowledged that the scene did not happen with Genevieve. “It is an incident that happened,” he said. But not with her. He would not be more specific, but the likelihood is that it happened later, when he lived in Chicago. “That was not her,” he said. “That was an example of compression I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them. So that was a consideration. I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends. And so, that occupies, what, two paragraphs in the book? My attitude was it would be dishonest for me not to touch on that at all … so that was an example of sort of editorially how do I figure that out?”

By lying, obviously. After all, what’s the harm in fabricating a story about someone who once trusted you when there is a “useful” point to make about black anger in America. No wonder he seems so adept at throwing former associates under the bus when it suits his interests: he’s probably been doing this his entire adult life. Real classy.

I’ve never read Dreams of my Father and so I was a little taken aback by just how self-absorbed and race-obsessed Obama was, according to the accounts of his former friends. It’s really the running theme of Maraniss’ entire piece. Exactly who was this man, and was he really white or black? These were the types of life-defining questions our future president struggled with as a young adult.

Genevieve and Barack talked about race quite often, as part of his inner need to find a sense of belonging. She sympathized and encouraged his search for identity. If she felt like an outsider, he was a double outsider, racial and cross-cultural. He looked black, but was he? He confessed to her that at times “he felt like an imposter. Because he was so white. There was hardly a black bone in his body.”

It’s too bad that apparently there was no one in Obama’s life to tell him to just get over himself. Perhaps if he had focused less on self-discovery and more on becoming a productive citizen he might have learned a few practical skills that would have come in handy these past 3 years. Like balancing a checkbook.

But ultimately my favorite part of the article was this. In retrospect, let’s call it Genevieve’s revenge:

On Sunday Barack and I raced, and I won. I ran so fast my body transformed itself onto another plane. We ran, he started off behind me and I just said to myself stay ahead, stay ahead and my body became a flat thin box w/ my arms and legs coming each precisely from a corner. And I didn’t know how long I could keep it up, but I was going to try—my whole sight concentrated on the lamp post when I felt him slow and yell you beat me, at first I thought he was giving up, but then I realized he’d meant the lamp post on the left and I’d really won! The feel of the race was exhilarating, but I didn’t feel very victorious. Barack couldn’t really believe it and continued to feel a bit unsettled by it all weekend, I think. He was more startled to discover that I had expected to win than anything else. Anyway, later in the shower (before leaving to see The Bostonians) I told him I didn’t feel that good about winning, and he promptly replied probably cos of feelings of guilt about beating a man. In which case, no doubt, he’d already discovered the obverse feelings about being beaten by a woman. Nevertheless, it was a good metaphor for me, despite, as I confessed to Barack, that in some ways it would have appeased some aspect of my self-image to have tried and lost. But I didn’t; I won.

Now this I believe.

Correction: The original publisher of Dreams of my Father has weighed in over at TPM and apparently Obama’s book included a disclaimer that some of the events and individuals portrayed within the book were based on composite characters. I continue to think it was more than a little unfair of him to attribute someone else’s words and actions to the woman in New York, but it’s also not really fair to accuse him of “lying” about this. So consider this a correction on my use of this characterization in the main post.


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As a man I think Women should stop complaning about sexual harrassment.Politricks on May 2, 2012 at 4:55 PM

As someone who takes personal responsibility, I think the perpetual and professional victims should stop complaining about every damn thing that doesn’t go their way.

WhaleBellied on May 2, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Ima Narcissist.

kingsjester on May 2, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Barry “remembers” just like Billy Clinton “remembers”.

Freaking LIARS!

GarandFan on May 2, 2012 at 6:00 PM

I’ll bet Mitt has never worn a sarong.

TarheelBen on May 2, 2012 at 6:03 PM

you know dude, if conzies weren’t so inclined to see yourselves as a perpetually victimized caste, you would not immediately think that gregory must have referenced the klan.

sesquipedalian on November 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM

BWAHAHAHHAHAHA

Good Solid B-Plus on May 2, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Does anyone else notice that whites are criticized because they “just don’t understand what it’s like being black” and thus they should STFU? Why don’t whites get to say that to minorities? If a non-white’s life/experiences are just too different for whites to understand it seems like that goes both ways.

katiejane on May 2, 2012 at 6:06 PM

it’s also not really fair to accuse him of “lying” about this.

Correction to the correction. I understand that the disclaimer was added to the second edition/issue.

faraway on May 2, 2012 at 6:06 PM

No, it’s disgusting how obsessed you and other libs are about Obama’s ‘mixed-race’ heritage. It’s the only reason you voted for him, and it’s the only reason you’re going to vote for him again in November.

But then again, I’m talking to the idiot who thought it was okay for a *white male* to intimate that the GOP needed a KKK higher-up to force a *black male* out of the primary race.

Good Solid B-Plus on May 2, 2012 at 5:40 PM

gregory’s comment was unfortunate, but “grand wizard” has been used in different contexts, so it’s unfair to just assume that he meant to reference the klan. the way you jumped at gregory – back when you were all on the cain train – was ridiculously overblown. (the flavor of the week then was ‘look, we have a black candidate, we now get call call everyone who criticizes him racist!) you keep repeating the ‘grand wizard’ thing as if you had been right back then, but you’re still wrong. but, onward!

i’m not obsessed with his heritage. the fact is that his memoir is about growing up as a mixed-race person, a compelling subject to the intellectually curious (which most of you apparently aren’t). to bring up this aspect of his memoir – and call it self-obsessed – is necessarily about racial identity, then, so it wasn’t me who brought race into the discussion. nice work on digging up my comment, but you fail again nonetheless.

sesquipedalian on May 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM

it is indeed disgusting that a white person feels entitled to pronounce that a young, mixed-race kid conflicted over his identity is self-obsessed and should just get over it.

sesquipedalian on May 2, 2012 at 5:35 PM

I like it better, self professed d-bag, when white leftist pieces of garbage tell blacks that they aren’t civilized enough to be expected to get picture IDs.

Almost as much as imagining fat white leftist women fantasize about the guy in the big boobs luscious babes t-shirt.

MNHawk on May 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM

“Get over yourself” is good advice to anyone under thirty.

myiq2xu on May 2, 2012 at 6:15 PM

gregory’s comment was unfortunate, but “grand wizard” has been used in different contexts

sesquipedalian on May 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM

The little woman is back in all her glory!

You go, girl!

MNHawk on May 2, 2012 at 6:15 PM

And, if one composite scene about a play makes him a liar,
urban elitist on May 2, 2012 at 4:50 PM

There’s a whole lot more than that. One of the business journals did a piece a few years ago on the section of the book in which Obama writes about his job as a technical writer for a business newsletter, a job he worked for a while after graduating from Columbia. In his book, Obama claims that he got a big promotion, that he had his own office and secretary, and he talks about a day when he caught sight of his reflection in a window, after conducting some important international negotiations on the phone. Obama says he was wearing his 3-piece suit and carrying a briefcase, and he berated himself for giving in to the siren song of corporate life and not following through on his original plans to become a community organizer.

So terribly poignant, eh? Except that his co-workers at the newsletter (who agreed to be quoted, by name, in the article) said that it’s bull. Obama had no office; he worked in a cubicle like everyone else. Obama also had no secretary; only the boss had one. Obama also never wore a suit to work; all the employees wore casual attire every day. And Obama didn’t do any negotiations, nor did he get a big promotion. The entire account was nothing more than Obama’s narcissistic fantasy of what he wished the job had been.

Then there’s the part of the book in which Obama writes about how the Selma civil rights march was responsible for his parents’ bi-racial relationship — despite the fact that Obama had been born years before the Selma march occurred.

But sure, it’s a compelling memoir — if you find fabricated, self-important BS compelling. And if you do, be sure not to miss Barry’s (or more accurately, his ghostwriter’s) next effort. It’s bound to be a doozy.

AZCoyote on May 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

But sure, it’s a compelling memoir — if you find fabricated, self-important BS compelling. And if you do, be sure not to miss Barry’s (or more accurately, his ghostwriter’s) next effort. It’s bound to be a doozy.

AZCoyote on May 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

In my life I’ve known some BS artists that could make up good stories but were still likeable individuals. Obama ain’t that type.

arnold ziffel on May 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

you keep repeating the ‘grand wizard’ thing as if you had been right back then, but you’re still wrong. but, onward!

sesquipedalian on May 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Yes, because you’d be perfectly fine with a conservative pundit making a KKK reference about Obama or Clyburn or Waters.

Your shtick was ridiculous back in November and it’s still ridiculous now. You were and continue to be the one who obsesses about race, but then backs off when it’s inconvenient to your position (like, say, if a black GOP member is getting dogged by white liberals).

Good Solid B-Plus on May 2, 2012 at 6:38 PM

A bizarre little note.

Both Barack, in one of his highlighted letters, and his un-composite girlfriend, in her excerpted diary, use the word “assuaged“.

Something sounds phony right there.

First, who uses the word?

And second, how likely is it that they both would?

Barack Assuaged Obama?

profitsbeard on May 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

profitsbeard on May 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Who uses words like that?

Bill Ayers.

They both would since Bill Ayers wrote the damn thing.

Could have gotten disgusting, fast, had they used the word Assanged.

coldwarrior on May 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM

profitsbeard on May 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Barrack is better known for usages as: They be messin’ with me. They treat me like a dog. (Boy, if we had known about Barry’s dietary choices when he uttered that little gem a while back.) That’s messed up. And so forth.

Obama is no orator…hence the constant usage of a teleprompter/TOTUS..side to side or through the lens as he used in Kabul.

Get Obama away from the teleprompter and he easily makes Dan Quayle sound like a master of English elocution.

coldwarrior on May 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Tilly Prompter?

steebo77 on May 2, 2012 at 6:52 PM

it

is indeed disgusting that a white person feels entitled to pronounce that a young, mixed-race kid conflicted over his identity is self-obsessed and should just get over it.

sesquipedalian on May 2, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Are we still doing this crap? Cool. How about a non-white person who thinks Obama’s “journey” and mixed-race “struggle” lame and boring? You want struggle?! Live in a 3rd world country. See what real poverty is like (as I have). Then we can talk about the proper perspective with which to evaluate post-modern drivel written with flowery prose about a young man’s self obsession. The guy is conflicted about race when it’s convenient for him to present himself as such to his Upper West Side cronies.

shannon76 on May 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM

On Sunday Barack and I raced, and I won.

A broad beat him in a foot race?

*facepalm*

RedNewEnglander on May 2, 2012 at 7:13 PM

On

Sunday Barack and I raced, and I won.

A broad beat him in a foot race?

*facepalm*

RedNewEnglander on May 2, 2012 at 7:13 PM

That’s a great point actually. LOL

shannon76 on May 2, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Ok, I haven’t read “Dreams From My Father” or the referenced article and I’ve had a couple of cocktails so I’m not sure where the following came from, book or article?

On Sunday Barack and I raced, and I won. I ran so fast my body transformed itself onto another plane. We ran, he started off behind me and I just said to myself stay ahead, stay ahead and my body became a flat thin box w/ my arms and legs coming each precisely from a corner. And I didn’t know how long I could keep it up, but I was going to try—my whole sight concentrated on the lamp post when I felt him slow and yell you beat me, at first I thought he was giving up, but then I realized he’d meant the lamp post on the left and I’d really won! ……….

But really, people actually think about and regurgitate this type of drivel! Get a stinking life and worry about something important, maybe like our gazillion dollar deficit or rampant unemployment. Sheesh.

LynnB74 on May 2, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Thepeoplescube asks: Comrades, Have You Ever Had an Imaginary Friend?
http://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-blog/comrades-did-you-ever-have-an-imaginary-friend-t8929.html

onlineanalyst on May 2, 2012 at 8:23 PM

But sure, it’s a compelling memoir — if you find fabricated, self-important BS compelling.

Coyote on May 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Maybe Ayers found the details of his actual life too boring, so “embellished” a bit.

No wonder he seems so adept at throwing former associates under the bus when it suits his interests: he’s probably been doing this his entire adult life.

Oh, I think he learned this behavior much earlier, probably in childhood. After all, he’s been thrown under the bus a couple of times himself. I said in ’08 that I didn’t want Barack’s psychodrama played out on the presidential stage. The guy had more baggage than Bill Clinton. He went from being racially conflicted to learning to hate his white half. The thing is, I don’t think he’s all that crazy about his black half either. What a mess.

SukieTawdry on May 2, 2012 at 8:26 PM

A bizarre little note.

Both Barack, in one of his highlighted letters, and his un-composite girlfriend, in her excerpted diary, use the word “assuaged“.

Something sounds phony right there.

First, who uses the word?

And second, how likely is it that they both would?

Barack Assuaged Obama?

profitsbeard on May 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Maybe it’s something out of the homosexual subculture, like ‘tea-bag’. Someone go ask Andy Vanderbilt.

slickwillie2001 on May 2, 2012 at 8:29 PM

“Who’s up for an 8000 word piece on the early love life of Barack Obama?”

Read this or have a rectal fistula lanced without anesthesia? Tough call.

Mason on May 2, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Barack Obama wrote Dreams from my Father?

BigAlSouth on May 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM

BigAlSouth on May 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM

That’d be Bill Ayers. From the writing style, looks like Ayers wrote all of it. From his own admission, Bill wrote all of it.

coldwarrior on May 2, 2012 at 9:18 PM

It’s too bad that apparently there was no one in Obama’s life to tell him to just get over himself.

Maybe Dr. Krauthammer could be persuaded to read to Dreams from My Father and the recent Bin Laden anniversary PR and provide a diagnosis of BHO’s mental status.

Is there more than narcissistic personality disorder?

DSM-IV-TR 301.81 states that narcissistic personality disorder is indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1.Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

slp on May 2, 2012 at 9:27 PM

I haven’t read Dreams from My Father because I’d’ve puked through every other paragraph. However, I did read Jack Cashill’s Deconstructing Obama which examines the extensive role Bill Ayers may have played in writing crafting Dreams for Obama and examines what was written and how it was written. Time for Cashill and his book to make a comeback–the book is worth reading.

stukinIL4now on May 2, 2012 at 9:30 PM

It’s fascinating that Genevieve was getting her Masters at Bank Street College–right down the lane from Columbia–at the same time the infamous Bill Underground Ayers was there getting his.

A.C. McCloud on May 2, 2012 at 10:17 PM

I finally read Dreams from My Father this year.
As a memoir of a still-youngish man still trying to “find himself”, it wasn’t bad.
As a job application for President of the United States —

I said in ’08 that I didn’t want Barack’s psychodrama played out on the presidential stage.

SukieTawdry on May 2, 2012 at 8:26 PM

AesopFan on May 2, 2012 at 10:29 PM

A.C. McCloud on May 2, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Heh…

As Father Guido Sarducci used to say, “Coincidentia, I don’ think so.”

coldwarrior on May 2, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Tall Leigh Bahn

GGMac on May 2, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Nobody asks the Jews why they remember the Holocaust? Well, the Jews aren’t walking around with a collective chip on their shoulders and shouting “God**** America!” either, asshat.

Geez, this guy is psychologically effed up. He has no business being POTUS. On top of that, he’s a woman hater. He can’t be gone soon enough for me.

NoLeftTurn on May 3, 2012 at 4:24 AM

I want to see an 8000 word piece on this part of Obama’s early love life

iceman1960 on May 3, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Abandoned by his father and mother, raised by leftist grandparents, mentored by an avowed communist, living most of his adult life in NYC and Chicago, small wonder the guy is a hopeless mess of psychological pathologies. It’s a f**king wonder that he can tie his own shoes (I think he mentions doing so in “Dreams…” anyway). But this November, let’s help him work out the rest of his identity crisis somewhere other than the White House.

PD Quig on May 3, 2012 at 7:40 AM

Really interesting is the FACT that Obama is gaming the entire “African-American” racial outrage machine, as well. He is actually more ARAB than Black.

http://kennethelamb.blogspot.com/2008/02/barak-obama-questions-about-ethnic.html

PJ Emeritus on May 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

We have this mixed-race discussion in my house, because my sister-in-law has a white mother and black father. Her mother and her white aunt raised her, as her father left the picture when her mother was pregnant. She was raised by white people, in a predominately white neighborhood. She was a happy child until she began to attend school and she was educated to her victimhood, which she never realized she had. Since them, she self-identifies as black and completes all paperwork as such. She likes to say people don’t understand what’s it’s like to be black.

Honestly, I don’t think she does either. Much like Obama.

goflyers on May 3, 2012 at 11:03 AM

So, Richmond, you don’t think it’s a lie to put lies into your biography? It’s editorial license!!! lol Obama will need to get his books reclassified as Childrens’s Fiction.

dahni on May 3, 2012 at 11:14 AM

In the book Obama took liberties with actual facts in order to create a “narrative”. Standard liberal practice, no? What it really says is that he felt the white/black tension, anger, angst, whatever, and projected it into a situation where the other person did not share it, to make the point that the other person shared it. In my part of town, we call that lying.

Obama did not know who he was. When he was employed as attorney he felt out of place with the established lawyers (just as any junior partner does). Because he could not face the question whether it was his own inadequacy at work, that perhaps he had risen above his level of incompetence, he had to find other excuses. Race was an easy one.

And it continues today. Criticize Barack’s policies, you’re racist. Mention Michelle’s vacations or her $950 tote bag, you’re racist. Question why 25 Secret Service agents are tasked to take his daughter to Mexico, you’re racist. It’s been his passport ever since he figured it out.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on May 3, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Considering the time frame when Obummer grew up I really doubt that he had any white girlfriends. In fact it’s very strange that no girlfriends at all have ever come forward. I think the truth is either he didn’t have any girlfriends or if there were any they don’t want their names associated with this scumbag.

sherrimae on May 3, 2012 at 8:03 PM

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