New Book Profiles President Obama's Father

Author Sally Jacobs sheds light on the president's controversial parent


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: As you may know, Barack Obama's father was a Kenyan who died in an automobile accident at the age of 46. He was drunk. The elder Obama was, by all accounts, a shadowy figure, and the question is: How did this affect the president, his son?

With us now, Sally Jacobs, reporter for the Boston Globe and author of the new book, "The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father." Why do you use the word "reckless" in the title here, Ms. Jacobs?

SALLY JACOBS, REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, Obama Sr. was a reckless figure in many ways. He was certainly a heavy drinker. He had a great fondness for women. And he had a somewhat loose relationship with the truth. He tended to exaggerate things, sometimes pretended he was someone that he wasn't.

O'REILLY: He didn't spend much time at all with his son, Barack Obama, left when Barack Obama was a baby, so he didn't know him. And then there was only one other reunion, I guess, in 1971, right?

JACOBS: Correct. He did come and visit him for about a month in Honolulu when he was visiting Hawaii.

O'REILLY: Now, what kind of a man fathers a child and then doesn't see him at all? I mean, what kind of a man does that? That, to me, is a condemnation of the elder Obama.

JACOBS: Well, I think many men do that actually for different reasons. And the reason…

O'REILLY: Wouldn't you say it's deplorable?

JACOBS: I would not say it was deplorable.

O'REILLY: Really?

JACOBS: I would say that this is something that happens quite frequently.

O'REILLY: But I want to get your mindset here, you as a reporter writing about this man. I think it's deplorable that a man fathers a child and ignores the child. You don't?

JACOBS: That's not my judgment to make. I'm not evaluating his behavior. I'm describing what he did. I'm not judging him.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, he goes from Hawaii to Harvard, this guy. And all the while is he having trouble with the immigration authorities, the U.S. authorities, because they suspect that he is married to a couple of other women, not just Barack Obama's mother. But he gets to Harvard. How did he get there?

JACOBS: Well, you asked me about whether he was reckless or not. The other word in the title is "bold." Barack Obama was a very bold and intelligent character. He was very passionate about Kenya and his dream -- his great love in his life was to go back to Kenya and be a player there. For him to get into Harvard was an amazing triumph. He had come from nowhere.

O'REILLY: Did he just get in on his academics?

JACOBS: Sure, he got in because he was brilliant, because he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in three years from the University of Hawaii. It was a monumental achievement that he got into Harvard.

O'REILLY: All right. So he had the smarts to get into the school. But they really didn't know who they were getting because the school of Harvard threw him out.

JACOBS: Well, they did know exactly who they were getting. He was a very smart person. They evaluated him on how he had done at the University of Hawaii. What concerned them about him was the number of girlfriends he had. Now, he was a Luo. From the tribe that he came from, this was very typical. Men in Africa who are Luos tend to have many wives. Obama Sr. did just what he would have done if he were home.

O'REILLY: But Harvard didn't like that.

JACOBS: Well, no they didn't.

O'REILLY: So they kicked him out?


O'REILLY: All right. Now, the key question to all of this thing to link it to President Obama at this point is why would -- if your book is true and I believe it is -- why would President Obama knowing about his father, reckless, all of that write a book about him, "Dreams from My Father"?

JACOBS: Well, the truth is he didn't really know about his father. He had heard a little bit from family members but he was a boy who wanted to know about his father, as any boy would. When you read the book, "Dreams"…

O'REILLY: But he kind of glorifies the man in the book.

JACOBS: …you can feel Obama Jr. looking for his father. Who was this man? Who am I?

O'REILLY: But would you say he glorifies the father in the book? Wouldn't you say he does?

JACOBS: Oh, no. I think on the contrary. He paints a very honest and direct portrait not only of his father but of himself. Here was a boy who had been told his father was this great figure. Well, he was very complex figure and Obama…

O'REILLY: But I read the book and I felt that there was sympathy, that the president was sympathetic to his father. That's what I felt.

JACOBS: His father was a tragic figure. I think Obama the president was very honest in his assessment of who his father had been.

O'REILLY: Yes. I still think he -- I wouldn't use -- you wouldn't use the word "deplorable." I wouldn't use the word "tragic." I think the guy was just a sociopath. How do you leave a little kid? I don't know how a man does that, so I would say he was.

JACOBS: Well, I think you have to read the whole book to find out.

O'REILLY: OK. Ms. Jacobs, thanks very much. We appreciate you coming on in.

JACOBS: Thank you.

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