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David Maraniss in Crisis Over Book Fallout

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let's see. David Maraniss. David Maraniss has this book on Obama, and he's upset. Maraniss is not happy over how the right wing is using his book. What Maraniss is doing -- and I don't think he realizes it because he's angry at what's happening. He's angry at the reaction to his book. What he's doing is pointing out all the things in Obama's autobiographies which are not true. He talked about Obama's great basketball talents in high school yesterday that Obama wrote about in his book. It turns out he wasn't a special player.

Maraniss is poking holes in many Obama assertions in his autobiography, and he's pointing out that they're not true.  Maraniss is saying, (imitating Maraniss) "I don't know what's happening here.  The right wing has taken my book. I'm not a fact-checker here, I'm a historian. I'm just helping get the record straight."  He's vetting Obama and doesn't realize it.  What he's doing is demonstrating that nobody read Obama's books.  Well, that's not true.  What he's doing is demonstrating that nobody questioned anything in Obama's books.  So Maraniss has come along, he's documenting lies and falsehoods, and as far he's concerned, all he's doing is getting the record straight.  He is now a little shocked here that people are reacting to his book the way that they are.  Let's grab sound bite number 18.  This is on CNN's Starting Point today, and the host is Soledad O'Brien.  And all she says was that President Obama wrote a memoir, Dreams from My Father, and Maraniss took over.

MARANISS:  The buzz about the book challenging his memoir.  That's not the point of my book.  I'm not writing it as a fact-checker.  I'm writing it as a historian.  People, for ideological reasons, are pouncing on that part of what my book is, but in fact I'm just trying to tell the truth.  A memoir is far different from rigorous factual biography.  It's not as though I'm trying to say, "Ah-ha, I got you," each point.  It's just I'm trying to present the way I really found it, which is in many cases different from what he presented.  The right wing sort of is at once dismissing the book and they're cherry-picking every single negative thing in it to use against Obama.  It's almost why I didn't want to write this book.

RUSH:  Oh, my heart bleeds.  So here we have Maraniss, who is an Obama supporter and he wrote this book with Obama's blessing and it was supposed to be a campaign valentine.  This book was supposed to help Obama, it was gonna add to Obama's marvelous history.  He's pointing out all the things Obama did not tell the truth about, or lied about, and so people are picking up on that, saying, "Well, where was the press vetting Obama?  Obama can't even tell the truth to his own autobiography."  Maraniss, "That's not what this is. It's not a fact-checking book. I'm a historian."  He's not happy.  You really have to wonder how bright some of these people are when it comes to down to just plain old common sense. 

You got a guy who wrote an autobiography, you research it, you find out a bunch in it's not true. You write a book that corrects it, and you get mad at the people who focus on it?  "Well, you know, a memoir doesn't have to be accurate." It doesn't?  Somebody can just lie about their own life and it's okay, as long as somebody comes along and corrects it and adds to it?  So let's see.  TheBlaze.com columnist Will Cain, same show, said, "I think it raises serious questions about what the role of a memoir is, Mr. Maraniss.  Is it truth telling, or is it the ability to massage and composite characters?  I think through your research, it questions what the purpose of a memoir is and if it's fiction or nonfiction."

MARANISS:  He wrote it when he was in his thirties before he was running for president.  He had no clue that people like me would be coming along later and trying to tell the real story.  But it is a legitimate question about where the line is in memoir.  My major point is, yes, there are discrepancies between what really happened and the way he presented it.  I don't think they're venal.  I think he did it for reasons of trying to tell a story about his search to find himself.  I don't think he was trying to create this mythological character.  Many of the mythologies in the book were just passed along to him by his own family.

RUSH:  Are you following?  Am I the only one who's incredulous over this?  We're now gonna debate where the line is in memoir?  Have we gotten so smart, become so intellectual that a memoir does not have to be true?  No, he's just trying to find himself.  Of course there are discrepancies.  We can't hold that against him.  He didn't know that he was gonna run for president.  BS. .... Well, family told the lies, not him, big whoop.  Let me tell you one of the lies.  There's a bunch of 'em that Maraniss has found.  You know, one of the things that everybody has been led to believe because Obama says it in his book, Obama said that his grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was taken prisoner and tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion.  It didn't happen! 

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"A new biography of Barack Obama has established that his grandfather was not, as is related in the President’s own memoir, detained by the British in Kenya and found that claims that he was tortured were a fabrication. 'Barack Obama: The Story' by David Maraniss catalogues dozens of instances in which Obama deviated significantly from the truth in his book 'Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance'. The 641-page book punctures the carefully crafted narrative of Obama’s life. One of the enduring myths of Obama’s ancestry is that his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, who served as a cook in the British Army, was imprisoned in 1949 by the British for helping the anti-colonial Mau Mau rebels and held for several months," tortured and so forth.  This has been advanced as the reason that Obama hates the Brits and gave back the Churchill bust.  It turns out nothing of the kind happened to his grandfather.  And we're not supposed to think anything of this?

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: An outfit called BuzzFeed has listed the nine lies uncovered accidentally by Maraniss.  You know, it is fascinating, Maraniss doesn't understand what he's done here.  He thought he was writing an election year valentine for Obama.  He's pointed out fundamental flaws, very serious misstatements, lies, prevarications, and he doesn't understand why people are focusing on it that way.  Right wing people are cherry-picking it, exactly.  There's literary license in memoir.  My God, the more we listen to the left, the less reason there ever is for truth.  Truth floats, and wherever you want it to be is where it ends up, and whatever you want it to be, it is. 

So here are the nine lies.  Number one, as I just mentioned, Hussein Onyango Obama, Barack's grandfather, was not imprisoned and was not tortured by the Brits. So there's no reason he should hate Churchill or the Brits.  The father of his Indonesian stepfather was not killed by Dutch soldiers in the fight for independence.  Remember now, this memoir, the entire title of Obama's book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, the point of this book is what a tough time Obama and his family have had because of race, how unfair the world has been to the Onyango Obango Obamas because of race.  So nothing happened to his grandfather.  The father of his Indonesian stepfather was not killed by Dutch soldiers. 

"Regina, a friend at Occidental who Obama writes about as a symbol of the authentic African-American experience turns out to be based on Carolina Boss, who is white. Regina was the name of her Swiss grandmother."  I think this is the woman who Obama complained didn't understand the anger of a black man. Number four, "Obama projected a racial incident onto his New York girlfriend that he later told Maraniss had happened in Chicago. Obama wrote that he broke up with his New York girlfriend in part because she was white. But his next girlfriend, an anthropologist in Chicago, was also white. Obama cuts out two white college roommates entirely," because it didn't advance the racial narrative.  They just didn't exist. 

"Obama wrote about his high school friends as an alienated, ne'er-do-well 'club of disaffection.' In fact, most members of the 'Choom Gang' were 'decent students and athletes' who went on to successful careers."  They were not reprobates as he writes about them.  "Obama's mother left his father, not the other way around." Everybody's of the opinion that Obama's dad ran off, Barack Hussein Sr., Barack Kardashian Sr. ran away. It's his mother that left his father. 

"In his memoir, Obama mentions he missed out on playing time in high school basketball because he coach preferred players who 'play like white boys do.' In fact, Obama had to work hard just to make the team, and race had nothing to do with it." And when you get into all these things in detail, what becomes obvious is that all of these lies and composites and whatever other techniques that one uses in memoir now have been created to make Obama out to be a victim.  He's a victim of an unstable family.  He's a victim of a white oriented basketball coach. He's a victim of the Brits who put his grandfather in jail and tortured him.  He's a victim here and a victim there.  And all of this is to explain his rage and to justify the rage. 

Toby Harnden writes about this in the UK Daily Mail.  He writes that "Maraniss also casts a skeptical eye on Obama’s grandmother’s tales of racism in Kansas, doubting whether she was ever chastised for addressing a black janitor as 'Mister' or ridiculed for playing with a black girl." That didn't happen.  "Obama himself, Maraniss finds, deliberately distorted elements of his own life to fit into a racial narrative." And Maraniss doesn't understand why people are interested in this for the reasons that they are. 

"Obama himself, Maraniss finds, deliberately distorted elements of his own life to fit into a racial narrative. The author writes that Obama presents himself in his memoir as ‘blacker and more disaffected’ than he really was. The memoir ‘accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles his real life but could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white’. ... Dick Opar, a relative by marriage to Onyango and a senior Kenyan police official, gave what Maraniss judged to be the most authoritative word. ‘People make up stories,’ he said. ‘If you get arrested, you say it was the fight for independence, but they are arrested for another thing.'" That was about the grandfather.  He was arrested, but it wasn't because he was working with the Mau Maus and opposing colonialism and all that other stuff.  (interruption) Well, that's your term, Snerdley: "Race-obsessed manipulator."

Snerdley said that, and Snerdley has 100% slave blood.  Doesn't have to make it up.  Snerdley is certified to criticize.  He's our Official Obama Criticizer.  He's certified to criticize.  Hundred percent slave blood.  (interruption) Calm down in there.  I got it handled here.  Snerdley is screaming at me over the IFB, "Who is it that makes up blackness?  Why do you have to make up blackness?"  That's a good point we could ask blue-collar Joe Biden.  Joe Biden's out there ticked off that Obama's saying he's a blue collar guy.  Here, grab sound bite 17 before we get to sound bite 35.  We had this earlier in the week.  Obama is out there telling everybody that his vice president is a blue-collar guy, knows what it's like to work, and Biden is ticked off about this.

BIDEN:  My dad never worked in a Food Fair.  My dad never wore a blue collar.  Barack makes me sound like I just climbed out of a mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, carrying a lunch bucket.  No one in my family worked in a factory.

RUSH:  So Biden is intent everybody knows that his family never did a day's work in their life, never worked blue collar, who do they think you're kidding?  My family didn't wear blue collars.  So Maraniss doesn't understand why all this is important to people.  Now, I want to go back to one of our all time top five sound bites on this program.  It is from October 30th, 2008, the Charlie Rose Show, Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw.  Now, you've heard it, but why am I gonna play it again?  Because, remember, now, these guys say that they know Obama principally from his books.  That's how they know Obama.  In admitting here they don't know anything about him, they say that all they know came from his books, which Maraniss has now exposed as not factual.  Here's the sound bite. 

ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

BROKAW: No, I don't either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

BROKAW: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

ROSE: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?

BROKAW: You know, it's an interesting question.

ROSE: He's principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational [sic] speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them. Now, I don't know what books he's read.

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There's a lot about him we don't know.

RUSH:  (imitating Brokaw) "You know, it's an interesting question."  Charlie Rose says, "Do we know anything about the people who are advising him?"  Brokaw, "You know, it's an interesting question."  They're two journalists.  Their job is to find out stuff for us.  Journalists!  "There's a lot about him we don't know." Your job is to find out and tell everybody else.  And they admit here, well, basically all we know is what's in his autobiographies.  And Maraniss has taken care of that for us.  So the bad week of Barack Obama has morphed into a bad two weeks and looking now to a bad month.  And now we got Fast and Furious, and everybody with the big question, "What's Obama hiding?"  That's the question asked and asked again, what is Obama hiding by claiming executive privilege on Fast and Furious? 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now, this thing with Obama and his books, this disturbs me. I don't know why. Who is he lying to here? Who's he think is gonna read this book? Why go through all this? Look what's happening: We're talking about the president of the United States. He's been president for 3-1/2 years, and we are still learning things that we don't know about the guy and we're not sure that what we know is accurate. Now, contrast that with me. I just use myself as an example, 25 years -- well, 24 years -- here behind the Golden EIB Microphone, and 3-1/2 years in Sacramento before that.

If somebody went out and started doing a biography on me, there's not one thing you'd learn about me that you don't already know, for all intents and purposes. I have not lied about various aspects of my life for authenticity or whatever. But this guy is obsessed with race. He is obsessed with coming off as authentically black. It's troubling. It's disturbing. Who does this? Who does this kind of stuff? I can't quite put my finger on it, but this doesn't jibe. And we're talking about somebody who is president of the United States, and we have people excusing it! They're making excuses for it.

"Well, it's memoir! In memoir you have plenty of latitude, Mr. Limbaugh. You need to understand that." Well, I thought an autobiography was what happened to you in your life, as told by you. I don't understand composites and making it up and leaving out certain people who helped you along the way 'cause they're not the right skin color. What is that about? Why do you leave certain people out who helped you because they're not black? I don't know what it is, but it's disturbing. And it's disturbing that we have all kinds of people, the cognoscenti on the left, who are doing everything they can to cover it up.

I don't know why anybody would want this guy reelected.

Policy-wise?

Why?

What is there that we want more of?

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Hey, folks, our friends at Breitbart have found 38 falsehoods. Breitbart is tallying things up. So far, they found 38 falsehoods in Obama's first autobiography. The left will defend this as simply an optimistic story about race and identity in the 20th century or something along those gobbledygook lines.

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