Literary agent’s 1991 catalog surfaces with claim Obama was born in Kenya

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Breitbart.com, the news and blogging legacy of the late conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart, has unearthed what it is calling new evidence of President Barack Obama’s youthful ambition to remake his personality: A 1991 literary agent’s catalog that described him as having been born in Kenya.

The new Kenyan birth claim “fit[s] a pattern in which Obama — or the people representing and supporting him — manipulate his public persona,” Breitbart.com editor Joel Pollak wrote.

“Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii,” said the 36-page catalog produced by a New York publisher, Acton & Dystel.

Miriam Goderich, who edited the booklet, issued the following statement to Political Wire, saying the Kenya line was a fact-checking error.

“This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me — an agency assistant at the time,” Goderich wrote. “There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more.”

The Obama-authored book promoted in the catalog was never published. It was to be called “Journeys in Black and White.”

That book idea was later revived by Obama, however — rewritten and published as “Dreams from My Father.”

“Obama and his handlers have a history of redefining his identity when expedient … [and] Obama has been known frequently to fictionalize aspects of his own life,” said the Breitbart website, which stressed its management’s disagreement with claims that Obama was actually born oversees.

The so-called “birther” point of view was kept alive in 2008 by Obama supporters who slammed reporters investigating the issue, restricted access to his birth certificate and spent heavily to defeat lawsuits seeking a judicial investigation of the issue.

Since 2008, Obama himself has kept alive the question of where he was born, partly by making jokes about it in speeches and fundraisers. His campaign has also sold Obama-themed products showing his birth certificate.

But more investigations of Obama’s early years are showing how the president’s attitude and views were shaped by his own ambitions, his circumstances and his friends.

A recent biography of Obama, “Barack Obama: The Story” by David Maraniss, reported that Obama commingled stories from three girlfriends to create a composite character helping him tell the story he wanted to tell.

One of those former girlfriends told Maraniss how Obama carefully picked his friends and reshaped his personality to match his political aims.

After leaving New York for Chicago, Obama embraced Africa-American culture. He worked as a community organizer in a black neighborhood and joined Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s large black congregation, for example.

Similarly, Ed Klein’s new book ,“The Amateur” describes how Wright and Obama together shaped his image to win support from the city’s poor African-Americans and its wealthy white liberals.

This story has been updated to include Goderich’s statement to Political Wire.

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