This week, Tablet released a fascinating conversation with historian David Garrow, author of a massive unauthorized biography of former President Barack Obama in his early years titled "Rising Stars." By all rights, the book should have been a massive hit upon its release in 2017. Instead, it underperformed. The revelations contained therein never hit the mainstream. And that simple fact, in and of itself, demonstrates a simple reality of the modern political era: The entire press apparatus has been dedicated, since at least 2008, to the proposition that Obama had to be protected from all possible damage.
Garrow's book carried multiple bombshells for Obama. Obama's first autobiography – the egotist has already written several – "Dreams From My Father," told a story about how he broke up with a white girlfriend in his Chicago years over her failure to understand his desire for racial solidarity with black America. Actually, as Garrow's book relates, the couple broke up because Obama refused to disown black antisemitism. Furthermore, as the book uncovers, Obama wrote letters to a girlfriend in which he "repeatedly fantasizes about making love to men."
These are incredible allegations, to say the least. They were reported in the book. But as David Samuels of Tablet observes, the media were shockingly remiss in covering any of these stories: "'Rising Star' highlights a remarkable lack of curiosity on the part of mainstream reporters and institutions about a man who almost instantaneously was treated less like a politician and more like the idol of an inter-elite cult."
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That was true in 2008, when the media steadfastly refused to take seriously reports about Obama's attendance at an openly racist and antisemitic church for two decades. And it's true in 2023, when the media still refuse to cover the fact that a huge number of President Joe Biden's closest aides are Obama's closest political allies. Obama resides in Washington, D.C.; all of the people who made policy for him now make policy for Biden. And yet nobody talks about the Obama influence in the current White House.
All of this is part of a broader pact on the part of every major apparatus in American life to mirror Obama's perceptions of the world. In Obama's own mind, he was a world-historical figure; that's why, in 2010, when he experienced a rather predictable shellacking in a midterm election, he responded by suggesting that his opposition was actually motivated by vicious racism and brutal bigotry. The media mirrored that perspective; so did entertainment; so did tech companies. The immaculate, solid wall of support for Obama's intersectional coalition is intimately connected to direct allegiance from the movers and shakers toward the Obama persona.
Just as our institutions were shaped for decades beyond JFK's death by the myth built around him, so our modern institutions will be shaped for decades to come by the myth of Barack Obama. Garrow concludes about Obama: "He has no interest in building the Democratic Party as an institution. I think that's obvious. And I don't think he had any truly deep, meaningful policy commitments other than the need to feel and to be perceived as victorious, as triumphant." But that victory – that triumph – came at the expense of the American people, who were promised a racial conciliator and a man of honor by a media invested in that lie. When the truth materialized and our institutions continued to perpetuate the lie, our institutions collapsed. We live in the era of Barack Obama still.
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Will we see another Obama in the White House? Check out Joel Gilbert's "Michelle Obama 2024."