Last week, Politico accused Ben Carson of lying about receiving a “full scholarship” to West Point by making a very technical and nit-picky argument that one cannot receive a “scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy as it is a taxpayer-funded institution. Carson called the piece a “political hit job,” and his campaign communications director, Doug Watts, stood by Carson’s version of events:
Military commanders in Carson’s hometown of Detroit said they would “take care of” his admission to West Point, Watts said, adding Carson, an ROTC student, then met with people and chose not to pursue it. West Point is tuition-free for accepted students in return for military service.
“Maybe the words are inaccurate, but that fact that you’re offered a chance to attend one of the military academies, you are in effect getting a scholarship because nobody pays a dime,” Watts said Friday.
This certainly seems like ridiculous thing to make such a big deal about, and Carson stated at a press conference Friday that Barack Obama hadn’t received such intense scrutiny when he was running for president.
Given that, maybe now’s a good time to dredge up some things that Obama misstated about his biography. IJ Review found nine instances — and not once did the media accuse him of being a liar.
1. “Obama’s Staff Corrects WWII Story” (New York Times)
In response to a question at a Memorial Day appearance in New Mexico, Mr. Obama said an uncle helped liberate the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during World War II. The problem? That story didn’t track with history, considering Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet forces.
2. Selma Birth Connection (Independent Journal)
“[W]hen the president spoke before an audience in Selma back in 2007, Obama credited the civil rights march as the inspiration for his conception. The only problem with that, as conservative pundit Michelle Malkin points out, is that the president was already three years old when the march occurred in 1965.”
3. “Obama Overstates Kennedys’ Role in Helping His Father” (Washington Post)
Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Ala., a year ago, Sen. Barack Obama traced his “very existence” to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother.
The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Obama’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. […]
It is a touching story — but the key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.
4. “Tale of British brutality toward Barack Obama’s grandfather probably untrue, book claims” (The Telegraph)
It is a harrowing tale of torture in a colonial prison in Kenya that is said to explain the President’s coolness towards Britain and even his removal of Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office.
David Maraniss, the author of Mr Obama’s most comprehensive biography so far, said five associates of Hussein Onyango Obama doubt he was even jailed. One told him: “People make up stories”. […]
… Maraniss claims that while “incidents of that sort certainly happened”, it “seems unlikely” that Mr Obama’s grandfather was one such victim. “Five people who had close connections to Hussein Onyango said they doubted the story or were certain it did not happen,” he wrote in Barack Obama – The Making of the Man.
5. The heroic story of Obama’s step-grandfather dying while fighting the Dutch is untrue (New York Times)
Mr. Maraniss attributes some of the differences to the kind of family lore that is often exaggerated. He notes that the story about the death of Mr. Obama’s step-grandfather — allegedly killed while fighting Dutch troops in Indonesia — was “a concocted myth in almost all respects.” Mr. Maraniss writes that he died trying to hang drapes.
6. “Obama Lied About Mother’s Health Insurance Problem” (Commentary)
During the 2008 campaign and throughout the subsequent debate over his health care legislation, President Obama used his mother’s experience as a cancer patient fighting to get coverage to pay for treatment for what her insurer said was a pre-existing condition as an emotional argument to sway skeptics. However, a new book by New York Times reporter Janny Scott has revealed this story appears to be a fabrication.
The Times reports today (in a story buried on page 14 rather than on the front page) that during the course of researching her book, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, Scott uncovered correspondence showing “the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.” In response to inquiries, “a White House spokesman chose not to dispute either Ms. Scott’s account or Mr. Obama’s memory, while arguing that Mr. Obama’s broader point remained salient.”
7. Obama makes white Occidental College classmate “Regina” into African-American aka “composite girlfriend” (Washington Times)
“During an interview in the Oval Office, Obama acknowledged that, while Genevieve was his New York girlfriend, the description in his memoir was a ‘compression’ of girlfriends, including one who followed Genevieve [Cook] when he lived in Chicago,” Mr. Maraniss wrote in the new biography.
“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,” wrote the author, who interviewed the woman. “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.”
Mr. Maraniss said the president acknowledged this scene did not happen with Ms. Cook.
8. President Obama’s “improbable love” narrative (Jack Cashill)
In all the talk about David Maraniss’ new book, “Barack Obama: The Story,” the chattering classes seem to have overlooked the most significant of Maraniss’ revelations, namely that the story on which Obama based his 2008 candidacy is “received myth, not the truth.”
“My parents shared not only an improbable love,” said Obama famously in his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote, “they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.” This concept of multicultural romance shaped his persona and his campaigns. […]
As Maraniss concedes, these two young people shared very close to nothing. “In the college life of Barack Obama in 1961 and 1962,” writes Maraniss, “as recounted by his friends and acquaintances in Honolulu, there was no Ann; there was no baby.”
Although Maraniss talked to many of Obama Sr.’s friends, none of the credible ones ever so much as saw him with Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham.
9. Obama and his mother not “abandoned” by father in 1963 (Buzzfeed)
It’s in that context that Maraniss corrects a central element of Obama’s own biography, debunking a story that Obama’s mother may well have invented: That she and her son were abandoned in Hawaii in 1963.
“It was his mother who left Hawaii first, a year earlier than his father,” Maraniss writes, confirming a story that had first surfaced in the conservative blogosphere. He suggests that “spousal abuse” prompted her flight back to Seattle.
Obama’s own fairy-tales, meanwhile, run toward Amercan [sic] racial cliché.
There’s far more than nine instances, actually. According to BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith, of all people, there are at least 38 false accounts of Obama’s life story documented in the Maraniss biography, all tailored to further a narrative of overcoming racial adversity and an underprivileged life.
And yet, no one in the media has branded him a liar.