Monday, August 27, 2012

The Panda Bear on Rumors, Obama and Columbia

The Panda Bear is very excited.   She an average everyday blogger gets to examine an untrue political rumor.

The Panda Bear numerous times of right-wing leaning radio programs has heard the rumor that Barack Obama never went to Columbia University.   Furthermore it is alleged that no one at Columbia remembers President Obama.

However, in the magazine of Columbia University, the Columbia Magazine, there are articles where people say they remember Obama at Columbia University.   The most recent article was in the summer edition of the magazine call Dreams of My Mater.   This article gives examples of people who remember Obama when he was a student at Columbia.

However, the Panda Bear finds it interesting that this untrue rumor has some distorted reality to it. (The Panda Bear finds many office rumors have this quality).  

First of all according to the article:

His classmate Wayne Root, the 2008 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate, told the New York Times shortly before the election, “I’ve not only not met him, I’ve not met anybody who met him.”

So there were public figures that presumably had inside information that made this claim.   Whether they deliberately lied is hard to know.

Secondly according to the article, Obama himself has had a cool distant relationship with his Alma Mater.   From the article:

For those who know Obama not just as the leader of the free world but as a member of the Class of ’83, his appearance on South Lawn seemed improbable. It’s hardly a state secret that the president has never fully embraced Alma Mater.

He felt no attachment to Columbia,” writes journalist David Maraniss in the newly published Barack Obama: The Story. Obama himself has acknowledged that as a transfer student from Occidental College, where he spent his first two undergraduate years, he wasn’t a man about campus.

“Mostly, my years at Columbia were an intense period of study,” he told Columbia College Today in 2005. “When I transferred, I decided to buckle down and get serious. I spent a lot of time in the library. I didn’t socialize that much. I was like a monk.”

The Panda Bear knows of many urban campus where the students live off-campus (as Obama did at Columbia) where the commuters are not a central part of college life and would not be well remembered at the school.

Of course, Obama contributes somewhat to the confusion around his schooling by refusing to have his school records released (or is this untrue rumor the Panda Bear has heard?).

So while it appears Obama in fact did go to Columbia he was not a well known name on the campus which makes it easier for this rumor to grow.

Thus, the example of the rumor that Obama did not attend Columbia University shows how under even false rumors there is a distorted truth.

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