Should any reader make it to page 1,084 of David Garrow’s Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, they will find this paragraph:
Barack Obama devoted dozens of hours to reading the first ten chapters of this manuscript and his understandable remaining disagreements – some strong indeed – with multiple characterizations and interpretations contained herein do not lessen my deep thankfulness for his appreciation of the scholarly seriousness with which I have pursued this project.
As it happens, the book has only ten chapters, and betrays all the makings of a work-for-hire project. The 44th president is done with David Axelrod and now gets the certified Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bearing the Cross to bulk up his own legacy.
Rising Star weighs five pounds and its sheer size, 1460 pages overall, appears to ascribe enormous worth to the subject. Even so, this Exxon Valdez of a book is certain to intimidate even worshipful readers. The vast bulk of the text blankets the few revelations of interest. For example, on page 538 readers learn:
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.
The Dreams book is indeed a roman à clef and Garrow does a decent job providing the real names while avoiding some of the book’s whoppers. The Dreams narrator, for example, says the Kenyan Barack Obama looks like Nat King Cole, like saying Bill Clinton looks like Elvis Presley. Garrow does not provide comparison photos and Rising Star contains no photos except the one on the cover.
It was easy for Garrow to identify the Dreams character “Frank,” as Frank Marshall Davis, because the former Barry Soetoro did so himself, on television. Garrow provides some background on Davis, a Communist pornographer, but ignores Paul Kengor’s The Communist, which showed the “remarkable similarities” between the politics of the Dreams author and Davis. Garrow also ignores Joel Gilbert’s Dreams from My Real Father, which documents the remarkable physical and speech similarities.
Garrow includes the “Pop” poem, whose subject is a poet, like Davis. As the author says, “I see my face, framed within Pop’s black-framed glasses.” The rising star, however, would “forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis,” and that is enough for the scholarly Garrow. He never challenges the official story and cites Dreams from My Father as though it were a faithful autobiography.
Garrow does note that, “Davis’ Communist background plus his kinky exploits made him politically radioactive.” That is why Barry needed the “historical fiction” of Dreams from My Father, the back story about the Kenyan foreign student.
“How Stanley Ann Dunham’s relationship with Barack Obama commenced and developed,” Garrow explains, “remains deeply shrouded in long unasked and now-unanswerable questions.” Actually, in his written communications from 1958 to 1964, including more than 20 letters, the Kenyan mentions nothing about an American wife and Hawaiian-born son.
Before he moved to Hawaii in the late 1940s, Frank Marshall Davis was a key player in Chicago’s Stalinist network. Garrow does not chart Davis’ dealings with James Bowman and Vernon Jarrett, antecedents of Valerie Jarrett, the real First Lady of 44th president. White House advisor David Axelrod also has roots in Chicago’s Old Left, but Garrow won’t go there.
He does reveal that when the rising star was 22, his girlfriend Genevieve Cook was staying with Bill Ayers in New York. So the former Barry Soetoro hooked up with the Weatherman much sooner than he later explained.
Garrow confirms that his rising star is not much of a scholar but does not provide any of the academic transcripts and such that he took such pains to have sealed. Rising Star includes no documents and its only graphics are two partial maps of Chicago and Illinois.
Garrow does chart some of the rising star’s many lies, including the article he claimed to have read about a black person bleaching his skin white. No magazine of the time ever published such a piece. The racial foment in Selma could not, as he claimed, have influenced his parents to marry because it took place in 1965 and he was born in 1961.
As Sharyl Attkisson noted in Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, the president also invented the “Austrian” language and thought Savannah was on the Gulf Coast. Garrow avoids that material and includes little about the rising star’s record in the Besuki school in Indonesia, a “predominantly Muslim,” institution as David Axelrod described it in Believer.
Meanwhile, Garrow’s rising star was smart enough to know that the old-line media and academic establishments would serve as his faithful and uncritical echo chamber. He also knew that, despite mounting evidence, nobody in government would ever conduct a serious investigation into his own background. He’s doubtless having a good laugh as the FBI investigates the bogus Russian collusion story.
The rising star can now go play golf, one of his primary activities while in the White House. As Garrow notes, in 2013 alone the president spent 46 days on the golf course. How’s that for the scholarly seriousness with which the Pulitzer Prize winner pursued this project.