By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
WASHINGTON — White House officials on Thursday abruptly changed their story about whether President Obama had ever met his father’s half brother, a Boston man who faced deportation to Kenya after a drunken-driving arrest in 2011.
Drunk driving is an Obama clan theme. Both the President's father and his half-brother David died driving drunk, and his father killed a man in an earlier incident.
Two years ago, White House officials told The Boston Globe that the president had never met Onyango Obama, known as Omar, Mr. Obama’s uncle. But Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Thursday that the 2011 statement was incorrect. In fact, the two men lived together briefly while the president was a student at Harvard Law, Mr. Carney said.
The president “had met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school,” Mr. Carney said, and “he stayed with him for a brief period of time until the president’s apartment was ready.”
Mr. Carney added: “After that, they saw each other once every few months while the president was in Cambridge, and then, after law school, they gradually fell out of touch. The president has not seen Omar Obama in 20 years and has not spoken with him in roughly 10 years.”
White House officials explained the abrupt change in the story by saying that no one asked the president in 2011 whether he knew his uncle.
If true, that fits a general pattern in the various remaining mysteries about the President's life: the people who would ask Obama questions don't have access to him, and the people who do have access almost never ask him. For example, apparently none of Obama's campaign aides asked him about the man Obama had invited to give the invocation at his Presidential campaign kickoff rally, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, until the day before. Obama had published thousands of words about Wright's influence upon him, and if you read them carefully you'd notice they represented Trouble, but Axelrod and Plouffe really didn't want to think about the subject, much less talk about it with their candidate.
Ironically, discoursing about his life story is one of Obama's favorite hobbies (e.g., his quasi-eulogy for war hero Senator Daniel Inouye, which included Obama's memories of his childhood fascination with motel ice machines).
Instead, Mr. Carney told reporters that White House officials then had simply relied upon the president’s own books and the public record to determine that they had never met.
“Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the president’s book, and there was no evidence that they had met,” Mr. Carney said.
Actually, Uncle Omar in Boston is mentioned three times in Dreams from My Father:
- "'Let’s say a son or husband moves to the city, or to the West, like our Uncle Omar, in Boston.'"
- "On the walls were various family artifacts: the Old Man’s Harvard diploma; photographs of him and of Omar, the uncle who had left for America twenty-five years ago and had never come back. ... She asked if I had seen him, and I had to say no."
- "'When my first children, Omar and Zeituni, were born, he bought them cribs and gowns and separate mosquito nets, just as he had for Barack and Sarah.'"
The President's book ends with his visit to Kenya the summer before he started Harvard Law School. In Kenya, he was asked by family members if he knew his Uncle Omar in America. He didn't -- during the time covered in the book -- but then Obama moved in with his uncle later that year, just like Uncle Omar said. That Obama later got to know Uncle Omar well explains why Obama kept mentioning his offstage presence in his autobiography.
“That was what was conveyed. Nobody spoke to the president.” ... “Nobody had asked him in the past.”
Stanley Kurtz points out that this gives plausible deniability regarding Obama's inconveniently leftist past. But, you also might almost get the impression that the people who know Obama best find him and his twice-bestselling life story kind of boring, and thus avoid giving him excuses to talk about it.
On Tuesday, a judge in Boston ruled that Omar Obama could stay in the United States and apply for eventual citizenship after he testified that he had lived in the country for 50 years, paid income tax and been arrested only once.
Wow, I keep reading in the New York Times about how the Obama administration is rounding up and deporting all the illegal aliens in the country in a ferocious dragnet, even thought I haven't noticed this to be, technically, happening. Maybe the truth is more boring in regard to this, too?