By Daniel Pipes Friday, September 7, 2012
Editor’s Note: In this first of a five-part series, Middle East and Islam specialist Daniel Pipes begins his inquiry into Barack Obama’s early Muslim connections by noting the president’s autobiographical inaccuracies. Future installments will establish his many connections to Islam.
President Obama has come out swinging against his Republican rival, sponsoring television advertisements that ask, “What is Mitt Romney hiding?” The allusion is to such relatively minor matters as Mr. Romney’s prior tax returns, the date he stopped working for Bain Capital and the nonpublic records from his service heading the Salt Lake City Olympics and as governor of Massachusetts. Mr. Obama has defended his demands that Mr. Romney release more information about himself, declaring in August that “the American people have assumed that if you want to be president of the United States that your life’s an open book when it comes to things like your finances.” Liberals such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times enthusiastically endorse this focus on Mr. Romney’s personal history.
If President Obama and his supporters wish to focus on biography, of course, that is a game two can play. Already, the temperate, mild-mannered Mr. Romney has criticized Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign as “based on falsehood and dishonesty,” and a television ad went further, asserting that Mr. Obama “doesn’t tell the truth.”
A focus on openness and honesty is likely to hurt Mr. Obama far more than Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama remains the mystery candidate with an autobiography full of gaps and even fabrications. For example, to sell his autobiography in 1991, Mr. Obama claimed that he “was born in Kenya.” He lied about never having been a member and candidate of the 1990s Chicago socialist New Party. When Stanley Kurtz produced evidence to establish that he was a member, Mr. Obama’s flacks smeared and dismissed Mr. Kurtz. Mr. Obama’s 1995 autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” contains a torrent of inaccuracies and falsehoods about his maternal grandfather, his father, his mother, his parents’ wedding, his stepfather’s father, his high school friend, his girlfriend, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. As Victor Davis Hanson put it, “If a writer will fabricate the details about his own mother’s terminal illness and quest for insurance, then he will probably fudge on anything.”