May 27, 2008

Barack's Imaginary Uncle, Bad Memory, or Bad Reporting?

So Barack Obama's uncle helped Patton's 3rd Army liberate the concentration camp at Auschwitz, which is a neat trick, considering that the 3rd Army never made it into southern Poland. It was instead Russians that liberated the camp, and if that wasn't embarrassing enough for the rookie Senator, his mother was an only child.

Still going on the assumption that his material grandparents knew how many children they have, it would seem apparent that his Kenyan father's side must have provided the uncle that helped liberate the camp, or Obama was lying on Memorial Day about his family's military service. Could he really be that dumb?

Something has to be off here... there is no way he would simply create an uncle. If his mother was an only child, then the uncle wold have to be on his father's side, but I somewhat doubt that Kenyan Luo tribesmen left Africa, and served in either the 3rd U.S. Army under Patton or the Russian Army.

As we missing something here, or is Obama blatantly lying about his family's military sacrifices in a Memorial Day speech?

Update: Only CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic and WaPo's Karl Vick seems to have the "uncle at Auschwitz" claim, which does not appear in Obama's prepared remarks and can't be heard . Either Obama ad-libbed a line afterward and can't be in the video and the media was only working from prepared remarks (which happens more often than you'd suspect) , or Gavrilovic both implausibly made up that same claim.

Update: The Obama camp has responded, and indicates that it was not Obama's uncle (he didn't have one) but his great uncle that served in the 89th Infantry Division, and the camp he was part of liberating was not Auschwitz in southern Poland, but Ohrdruf, part of the Buchenwald camp system, in central Germany, which was liberated four months later.

The Washington Post isn't impressed, and for good reason. It wasn't a "lie". He just didn't get any of the truth right.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 27, 2008 11:49 AM

To repeat someone else's comment elsewhere, it musta been his Uncle Joe! (The same "Uncle" after whom Country Joe was named...Ok I'm officially a geezer.)

Posted by: DirtCrashr at May 27, 2008 12:07 PM

Maybe he meant great uncle. I referred to my great aunt as my aunt, colloquially.

Seems like we should check before we start accusing him of lying, as it ruins our sides credibility if we're wrong.

Posted by: Alcibiades at May 27, 2008 12:09 PM

Not that the genealogies available are anywhere near accurate, but the ones I found online list no uncles. A great uncle makes sense, but geographically it seems to be a stretch. I could also understand if the Senator meant another camp that may have been liberated by the US.

Posted by: Mekan at May 27, 2008 12:45 PM

Alcibiades: it doesn't matter if he was calling his 3rd cousin twice removed "Uncle", he wasn't with the 3rd American Army when it liberated Auschwitz ... since it did NOT liberate Auschwitz and was probably busy fighting in the Bulge at the time.

Posted by: Lord Nazh at May 27, 2008 01:07 PM

Hot Air now has video

Posted by: Richard1 at May 27, 2008 01:36 PM

Obama is telling the truth. His family and his uncle are Stalin Communists. They liberated Auschwitz.

Posted by: Roy Mustang at May 27, 2008 01:43 PM

The reason it isn't in the transcript is because his remarks about his Grandfather's service and the Uncle were part of an answer during a Q&A session after his prepared remarks.

Flopping Aces has the video:

The Messiah’s Gaffes & The MSM Who Ignores Them

Posted by: S at May 27, 2008 01:53 PM

Sorry, you have to go to about 4 min. in on the video to get to the right part.

Posted by: Sara at May 27, 2008 01:54 PM

Obama's mom was not in the WWII generation - the linked article has her graduating from high school in 1960. Even if she'd had a brother, it's unlikely that he would have been old enough to serve. I'm guessing that the mythical uncle is/was actually a great uncle and Auschwitz was Barry's generic name for a concentration camp. Ignorance of European history is not at all unusual for Barry's generation.

Surely he's not dumb enough to make up something so easily fact-checked - is he???

Posted by: Diogenes at May 27, 2008 02:30 PM

Maybe he meant "Frank" (AKA Frank Marshall Davis .. "I was a Communist and a subversive and a threat to Hawai`i.").

Posted by: Neo at May 27, 2008 02:47 PM

The uncle/great uncle thing doesn't matter that much.

It's the statement that the Americans liberated Auschwitz. It's like Hillary stating "There was a saying in the White House during the 90s, if a place is too poor, too dangerous to send the President...then send the First Lady."

Clinton and Obama know they are lying. This isn't even a bending of the truth. And still they choose to lie in the most spectcular fashion.

Posted by: Roy Mustang at May 27, 2008 03:14 PM

Foxnews can't get the story straight either(from

"Obama was raised in part by his grandparents, and his father served in the second World War."

IIRC, Barry's father was born in 1948. Pretty sure Fox mean't grandfather.

Posted by: Diogenes at May 27, 2008 03:32 PM

If Barry has any relative with a plausible claim to serving in Europe during the Big One, okay. Thing is it seems unlikely from public information that this is possible, much less true. What is becoming ever more clear is that this guy just makes things up on the fly. Hillary of Tuzla likewise. Kerry with his seering recollections and Bog Dog with examples too numerous to meter are in similar straits. And the press covers for them. Of course the pressies are likely about as unfamiliar with US history as Barry of the 57th State. But we haven't ALL forgotten. Not yet. If this is crap it is the lowest attempt to suck the valor of better men since Kerry's. I guess that wasn't so long ago.

Posted by: megapotamus at May 27, 2008 04:30 PM

Who makes up an uncle, dips him in a dream,
Fakes a little sorrow, and collects up all the cream?
Obama-man can, the Obama-man can
Yes, the Obama-man can 'cause
He mixes it with bull and makes the lie taste good.

Posted by: twolaneflash at May 27, 2008 04:34 PM

The real question is, can Obama spell "potato"?

Most people here will get the reference. A Republican makes a simple gaffe, and he is endlessly hounded. A Democrat makes numerous gaffes, and the MoveOnMedia is silent.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 27, 2008 05:07 PM

Just surfing around my favorite conservative sites, and found that NRO's Corner blog has located a press release from Obama's campaign:

“Senator Obama’s family is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II – especially the fact that his great uncle was a part of liberating one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald. Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

If the Obama campaign expects this to close this issue, they're probably wrong. The obvious question is, doesn't Obama believe in not speaking definitively about things he is not sure about? This probably would have been passed over if he'd phrased it as "...I believe it was Auschwitz, but I could be mistaken..."

Makes one wonder if Obama is so egotistical as to believe that he is incapable of getting even the smallest fact wrong.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 27, 2008 05:30 PM

Obama is a superhero and seeing dead people is one of his superpowers... the other is dumbing the mind of voters! Let's pray that the voters come to their senses by November! Keep smiling and God bless! Padre Steve

Posted by: Padre Steve at May 27, 2008 08:46 PM

Buchenwald or Birkenau? Shia or Sunni? Which is it Barack? Which is it John? I guess I care more about Shia and Sunni right now...Hitler's dead right? Where's Bin he Sunni or Shia...I can't remember.

Posted by: G Rob at May 27, 2008 10:08 PM

Auschwitz, Buchenwald, 57 states, or 50 states, what's the difference, folks? Presidents "have people" for piddley little details like that.

Posted by: Bill Smith at May 27, 2008 10:12 PM

So the mastermind gets the country wrong, the army wrong, the camp wrong, and the relative wrong. You can trust him to get the details right when he's president!

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at May 27, 2008 10:32 PM

Here's my site covering the liberation of that camp.

Posted by: Chuck Simmins at May 28, 2008 04:50 PM