David Maraniss talked about his just released biography of Barack Obama this evening in New York. He commented that the “venom in the modern political world” had dissuaded him from pursuing the project for a while, but then decided to follow his philosophy, which is “go where there is.” He said his research for the book had taken him around the world — over 40,000 miles. His goal was to get at the sociological forces that shape Obama — “the world that created him and how he reinvented himself.”
The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist described discrepancies between what he had discovered about the President’s past and what Obama had written in his own memoir. He recounted a meeting with President Obama in which he shared the book’s introduction and table of contents. After reading it, Obama said, “I found it interesting that you call my book fiction.” Maraniss replied, “No I call it literature.”
Maraniss’ book focuses on Obama’s early life, including his parents and grand parent’s stories. He mentioned several times a sense of “randomness” in Obama’s life, with the repeating theme of ”loss — leaving and being left,” and the ongoing “search for home.”
Commentary: People decry the venom in American politics today, and yet are indifferent to the bigger problem of untruthfulness — which transcends politics and has become a national epidemic. Mr. Obama’s deficits as a human being have made him a sympathetic figure for some, but also affected his judgement and job performance — making him an easy target for interest groups that have been able to get their way with him, to the detriment of the nation and world. As an aside — Mr. Maraniss leaned on “randomness” in a sophomoric way, especially for someone in his position.