Obama has been in the White House for eight years and produced three full autobiographies, and in countless public appearances, race has either been the main topic or a hidden one as well, but the 44th president, the U.S. media gateway expert reported Thursday, told stories he never told before. This Time it’s him fighting racism, and he’s doing it directly with his fists.
This Monday, Obama and liberal singer Bruce Springsteen released the podcast “Rebels: Born in the U.S.A.” In the podcast Obama brought up the hitherto unknown tale of a locker room confrontation between him and a friend in Hawaii when he was a teenager who called Obama racist.
Listen to the anecdote below, which begins at about the 28:40 mark.
Obama said, “One time we got into a fight and he called me the C-word expletive, and I immediately responded with a rhyming racist slur. “
Obama went on to say, “This is not the first time. He probably doesn’t even know what the C is. But what he does know is that saying it can hurt me. I remember I punched him in the face and broke his nose. We were in the locker room, and all of a sudden, blood was flowing, and I did nothing more than react to the punch. I asked myself, “What? I punched him?”
A friend asked Obama why he did that. Obama said, “Didn’t you call me a C? “
For Americans who have spent years with Obama in the public eye, this may be hard to believe. Could this be false? But even if it were fake, the anecdote still doesn’t carry enough weight in the pantheon of Democratic politicians’ memories, and the lie isn’t big enough to match some of the great figures in Democratic history.
Hillary shared a recollection on the campaign trail in 2008 in which Hillary claimed she was shot at by snipers when she landed in Bosnia in March 1996. It turned out the video proved nothing of the sort.
Former Democratic Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.Y.) imaginary drug-dealing friend, T-Bone, is always worth mentioning. Booker likes to boast and embellish facts, and started talking about T-Bone in 2000 (the drug lord, and then T-Bone became a regular in Booker’s anecdotes, and when Booker ran for Senate in 2013, T-Bone’s authenticity was questioned. As a result, Booker was exposed, and in 2008, when Booker was running for Senate, he admitted to a friend that T-Bone, the drug lord, did not exist, but was a “composite” of various people Booker knew.
Joe Biden, more likely the national champion of self-indulgent storytelling, said he was once arrested sitting in the Senate speaker’s seat, which never happened; he said he tried to meet Mandela in South Africa and was arrested, which also never happened; he told people he marched in the civil rights movement, which also was false.
Yet, unlike Hillary’s sniper-gun stories or Biden’s countless self-indulgences, Obama’s stories have a quality that borders on credibility. For example, there is no doubt that as a teenager at some point he may have played basketball and may have had such a racist friend. So the story can’t be dismissed out of hand just yet; the question is, how did it just now emerge?
Obama has been part of the American public conversation since his sensational speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and throughout Obama’s political career the conversation has been very much about race. But why did people not realize until now that as a teenager, Obama was physically speaking out against racism?
It is important to remember that Obama has never overplayed the race card to achieve his political ends. However, readers need to remember that this is the man who added fuel to the fire of the 2012 Martin shooting by declaring, “If I had a son, he’d be like Martin. In a time when black lives are expensive, it is probably true that Obama mentioned such anecdotes from the past, and for political purposes.