When it comes to conspiracies, I'm an Occam's Razor man. The more obvious explanation of the variable first line in the eternally shifting sands of Obama's biography is that, rather than pretending to have been born in Hawaii, he's spent much of his life pretending to have been born in Kenya.
After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title "Journeys In Black And White," being born in Hawaii doesn't really help. It's entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance – American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury vacation destination and nothing else.
Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man's rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.
Update: Later on in the piece, Steyn compares Obama to another famous (albeit fictional) gentleman who was known to have a penchant for embroidering the truth:
"I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then," says Nick Carraway in "The Great Gatsby." "His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself... . So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end."
In a post-modern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake – an elite schooling – Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure – the impoverished roots – merely add to Obama's luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks' worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him ("Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him"). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby: His "shiftless and unsuccessful" relatives – the deportation-dodging aunt on public housing in Boston, the DWI undocumented uncle, the $12-a-year brother back in Nairobi – are useful props in his story, the ever more vivid bit-players as the central character swims ever more out of focus, but they don't seem to know him either. The more autobiographies he writes, the less anybody knows.
Like Gatsby presiding over his wild, lavish parties, Obama is aloof and remote: let everyone else rave deliriously; he just has to be...Or, as
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into my past.