Obama's Columbia 'thesis' is all fiction, dreamed up by blogger: Oops!

I have to take my hat off to the guys over at Jumping in Pools. They managed to gain national attention by doing nothing more than posting a piece of satire on their blog. The article titled "Obama College Thesis: 'Constitution is Inherently Flawed' languished in anonymity for a good while before being picked up by Michael Ledeen of Pajamas Media and then by Rush Limbaugh himself. The piece generated a great deal of controversy and eventually found its way to Politifacts "Pants on Fire" list. To Matthew Avitabile and the crew at Jumping in pools; you have my most sincere admiration.

Below is an excerpt from Politifact for the complete story click here. For the original post on Jumping in Pools click here.

Obama's Columbia 'thesis' is all fiction, dreamed up by blogger

When we last spoke with Matthew Avitabile, a grad student in upstate New York who writes a blog called Jumping in Pools, he had stirred up a hornet's nest with a satirical posting that claimed President Barack Obama wanted soldiers to stop taking an oath to the Constitution and instead pledge their loyalty to the president himself.

That put some conservative bloggers into a tizzy. "Good g*d — Obama is an egomaniac like we've never seen before. Another Hitler on the rise. This guy is just trashing everything the Consitution stands for," wrote someone named Kitty on the blog Tree of Liberty. The report kept spreading, getting picked up by other bloggers and circulating as a chain e-mail. It earned a Pants on Fire from our Truth-O-Meter.

Avitabile, a 22-year-old State University of New York at Albany grad student and self-described moderate Republican, told us back in February that he was surprised the posting — which was labeled satire — could spread so quickly without people verifying the facts. "People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much, that they would go with it without checking it," he said.

Now comes another satirical claim from Avitabile's blog that made it all the way to Rush Limbaugh's show before being debunked. It says that Obama criticized "plutocratic thugs" in his thesis at Columbia University:

"Obama was required to write a 'senior seminar' paper in order to graduate from Columbia. The subject of this paper, which totaled 44 pages, was American government. Entitled Aristocracy Reborn, this paper chronicled the long struggle of the working class against, as Obama put it, 'plutocratic thugs with one hand on the money and the other on the government.'

"In the paper, in which only the first ten pages were given to the general media, Obama decries the plight of the poor: 'I see poverty in every place I walk. In Los Angeles and New York, the poor reach to me with bleary eyes and all I can do is sigh.'

"In part, the future President blames this on the current economic system: 'There are many who will defend the 'free market.' But who will defend the single mother of four working three jobs. When a system is allowed to be free at the expense of its citizens, then it is tyranny.'

"However, the President also singled out the American Constitution: '... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy.'

"It is yet unknown if more of this thesis will be released. It was also noted that the President received an A- for the paper, which later led to his graduation."

The blog posting gained credibility because the "satire" label was small and easy to miss, and it falsely claimed that Time magazine columnist Joe Klein uncovered the thesis.

"With all of the secrecy regarding the President's academic record," the blogger wrote, "famed Time reporter Joe Klein looked into the records for an upcoming special edition about the President. Klein included several key points in the piece, including his grades and stellar letters of recommendation. However, what has leaked along with this information was the subject of a thesis written by the young Obama while still an undergraduate at Columbia."

Avitabile said he intended the item to be satire, but not over-the-top-obvious satire.


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