Rightbloggers Continue Slow Progress Through Dreams from My Father, Are Up to Part about "Composites"
Last week somebody noticed that some people in the 17-year-old book were described in the introduction as "composites." Rightbloggers were outraged. Whoever heard of such a thing -- besides, that is, the hundreds of thousands of people who read it?
A little background: The introduction to Dreams contains these lines: "For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I've known, and some events appear out of precise chronology," and "With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of their privacy."
Writer David Marranis went looking for people who might have been the originals of the people in Obama's book. Marranis got some good access -- to an ex-girlfriend of Obama's, Genevieve Cook, and to Obama himself -- and part of his material appeared last week in Vanity Fair in advance of a new book. (Obama affirmed that the girlfriend in the book was, like others, a composite.)
In the normal world, this all makes sense: An ambitious young politician uses, and wisely admits up front to using, plausibly deniable composite characters so he can evade potentially explosive tell-all interviews with named characters later. A writer looks up possible sources, and gets the author, now President, to comment on them.
In rightblogger world, however, this was a major scandal, despite 17 years of advance notification.
To be fair, they had help: Politico ran an item that at first suggested Obama had never noted the composite characters before, then claimed he'd added the note in a late edition, then finally got around to noticing that the info had been there all along.
Nonetheless the original version of the post was hot news to rightbloggers.
"Obama admits lying about girlfriend in book. What else has he lied about???" asked Phoebe's Detention Room.
"Obama admitted he misled readers in his autobiography, The Dreams of My Father," said My Pet Jawa. "The white girlfriend described in Dreams From My Father turns out to be a 'composite' -- i.e., not real," said Moonbattery. "Composites Published And Not Mentioned As Such Are What?" asked Chuck Ring of the Sandia Tea Party, and answered, "Why, they are lies, pure and simple."
"Turns out a character he addressed in his memoir Dreams From My Father wasn't actually one person, as he claimed, but a 'composite' of individuals with which he was associated," breathlessly reported Stephan Tawney of The American Pundit.
"Now that the cat is out of the bag, and everyone knows that Obama lied, and actually made up the 'New York girlfriend', the Obama camp is scrambling to try and spin their lie, and now Obama says that the 'New York girlfriend' is actually a composite character," said USbacklash. "What a crock of shit! Obama is a compulsive liar, who will not stop lying to the American People until we vote his lying ass out of office!"
Etc., etc., etc., over dozens, maybe hundreds of posts. And unlike Politico, none of these guys bothered to correct their items.
That's right, look inside -- for treason!
Even when reminded of the truth, rightbloggers who weren't still pretending they hadn't heard it found new ways to spin it.
"Dave Weigel reminds us that Obama pointed out his use of 'composites' in the introduction of the book," wrote Jim Geraghty at National Review. "So this isn't really a huge scoop."
Nonetheless, he went on about it as if it were the Watergate break-in for hundreds of words. "Obama's autobiography was a big, big part of his 2008 campaign," wrote Geraghty, "and it was how he introduced himself to the American people. And yet it was . . . by the author's own admission, not accurate... When you think about telling the world your story, and telling the world about the people who shaped you . . . would you use a composite?"
A day later Geraghty was still at it: "What happens when it turns out that the story isn't true?" he wrote. And he wasn't talking about his own story.
"'Composite character' is code for 'lie,'" claimed Hugh Hewitt. "Recall James Frey, author of the non-memoir A Million Little Pieces. He made it up key parts of his 'memoir,' and got slammed by Oprah when this lying was revealed. 'Composite events' like 'composite characters' don't fly when the MSM doesn't want them to take off."
Wait, wasn't the issue with Frey that he substantially fabricated major events in his book, including his criminal record, and didn't admit it till he got caught? Nonetheless Hewitt kept on -- "Now the president is caught in having made up stuff for his memoir... If he was willing to make stuff up in his memoir, what other stuff as he made up along the way?" -- as if it didn't matter. Well, for propaganda purposes, we suppose it didn't.
"I think we need Oprah to get to the bottom of this like she did with my fellow Denison alum James Frey and the falsehoods in his 'A Million Little Pieces,'" said Spencerblog.
"As usual, the leftist media have come to Obama's defense," complained Gary DeMar of Godfather Politics. "'He told us right in the book that some of the events were compressed into "composite" stories. It's no big deal,' media supporters of Obama are telling us." Those bastards!
DeMar had an answer for such people: the James Frey example. But unlike Hewitt, he didn't know when to quit. "The difference, of course," DeMar admits, "is that Frey didn't tell anybody about the fabrications."
We were looking forward to seeing where DeMar would take this next. Disappointingly, it was here: "If [Frey] had, he wouldn't have gotten to sit down with the Queen of daytime talk. The point is, people don't like to be lied to even if they're being told up from that what's coming is not true."
A non-sequitur? What's that? Something like a composite? Hey, Obama ate a dog.
Other just winged it, sometimes spectacularly. The Ulsterman Report asked readers for information on Genevieve Cook. He updated with a report from "reader 'Cindy' and the folks over at Right Entertainment" about "the still mysterious Obama New York girlfriend."
"After they split up," Right Entertainment reported, "Obama's ex-girlfriend married an Egyptian accountant named Mohamed Moustafa and then went by the hyphenated name Genevieve Moustafa-Cook." They also claimed to have found an old cached social networking page on which Moustafa-Cook wrote, "I would like to learn Arabic so that I may read the Quran and pray properly."
Alas, the Ulsterman Report was forced to follow up: "The cached version detailed by Right Entertainment appears to be from an American woman aged 21 -- which would of course indicate she would not be the same Genevieve Cook linked to Barack Obama." But Ulsterman has other theories, which you can go to his site and read if so inclined.
Some of them just said Obama didn't even have a girlfriend because he didn't swing that way, if you know what they meant and unfortunately you do.
"I don't believe Obama had many girlfriends. Personally, I always pegged him to be gay," said Support Your Local Gunfighter. "Obama admits to writing fiction... The only real question here is if, by 'multiple,' he meant 'imaginary,' or if by 'girlfriends,' he actually meant 'boyfriends,'" said Vox Day. "Composite sketch expert renders Obama's 'girlfriend,'" wrote I Own The World, offering a drawing of a guy with a "Ramrod Club" tattoo and "Larry [hearts] Barry" on his shirt.
As Ozymandias of Freeper Madness noticed, this theme was very popular with the denizens of Free Republic, an important section of the Republican base.
Some said the real story was that liberals hadn't read the Obama book as carefully as rightbloggers were belatedly pretending to have done.