Rush Limbaugh is using a new biography about President Obama's life to claim he viewed his basketball coach and his team as "racist" and further the right-wing narrative that the media supposedly failed to vet Obama before he was elected. The book, by Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss, reveals new details about Obama's life, including how "basketball is central to his self identity."
On his show today, Limbaugh complained that "nobody in the media bothered to vet Obama in 2007 and 2008, and amazingly what we're learning now is that nobody in the media bothered to fact-check Obama's biography. They just accepted it." Limbaugh then segued into talking about how in his biography, "Obama said he played black ball, the coach coached white ball, and as such the coach was a racist, the team was racist, strategy of the game was racist, and Obama rode the bench."
In fact, Obama wrote in Dreams From My Father that he disabused a friend who suggested racism was a factor in him not getting more playing time on the basketball team:
"I mean it this time," [Ray] was saying to me now. "These girls are A-1, USDA-certified racists. All of 'em. White girls. Asian girls -- shoot, these Asians worse than the whites. Think we got a disease or something."
"Maybe they're looking at that big butt of yours. Man, I thought you were in training."
"Just 'cause a girl don't go out with you doesn't make her racist."
"Listen, why don't you get more playing time on the basketball team, huh? At least two guys ahead of you ain't nothing, and you know it, and they know it. I seen you tear 'em up on the playground, no contest. Why wasn't I starting on the football squad this season, no matter how many passes the other guy dropped? Tell me we wouldn't be different if we was white. Or Japanese. Or Hawaiian. Or fucking Eskimo."
"That's not what I'm saying."
"So what are you saying?"
"All right, here's what I'm saying. I'm saying, yeah, it's harder to get dates because there aren't any black girls around here. But that don't make the girls that are here all racist. Maybe they just want somebody that looks like their daddy, or their brother, or whatever, and we ain't it. I'm saying yeah, I might not get the breaks on the team that some guys get, but they play like white boys do, and that's the style the coach likes to play, and they're winning the way they play. I don't play that way."
"Man, I don't know why you making excuses for these folks." [Pages 73-74 of paperback edition]
In a Post excerpt of his book, Maraniss wrote:
The subject of Obama and basketball reaches into the complexities of self-perception and race. Since his self-discovery served as the organizing theme of his memoir, it was understandable that he focused his life through that racial lens, and that for dramatic effect he sometimes placed more emphasis on certain provocative scenes and topics. The tendency in his self-portrait was to present himself as blacker and more disaffected than he was, if only slightly so.
Indeed, Maraniss added that Obama "would acknowledge later that [high school basketball coach Chris] McLachlin was 'a terrific coach' and he learned a lot that year 'about discipline, about handling disappointments, being more team-oriented, and realizing that not everything is about you.' "