The Original Birthers?

The Left went apoplectic over Romney’s recent joke about birth certificates — perhaps a tit-for-tat shot across Obama’s bow for the prior week’s presidential evocation of the old story of Romney’s dog on top of Romney’s car. But if pundits wish to be so angry at the birther joking, then they should go after the original birthers, who may have started the  myth — the literary agency Dystel & Goderich, which for over 16 years in their promo bio listed Obama as Kenyan-born — 1991–2007 — without any apparent complaint or questioning by those who read it. That fabrication was an odd thing to do for two reasons: One, authors are customarily asked to submit biographical information to their agents and publishers, and often periodically update and edit that information in catalogues, promo material, and booklets; and, two: The Kenyan-born reference disappeared abruptly in 2007, without any explanation, right about the time that Senator Obama began his campaign for the presidency.

Many have interpreted those strange events not as a simple “slip,” but as the lame fudging of either the agents, or the author, or both, to construct a suitably exotic birthplace for Obama that might emphasize the cross-cultural themes of his autobiography — a hypothesis strengthened by revelations that a great number of the key stories of Dreams from My Father were fictionalized, bearing little semblance to what actually happened.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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