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Jim Davidson: I met Obama at Columbia and told Wayne Root about it

In today’s article explaining why he would not be testifying at Rev. Manning’s Obama Birther ‘trial’, Wayne Root writes:

I explained to Pastor Manning the circumstances of any testimony I would provide: I am NOT a “birther.” I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. I actually think that wild conspiracy theories detract and discredit any serious attempt to ask legitimate questions about the background of our President. I explained that I do NOT believe there is any cover-up by Columbia University administration. I explained that I am a supporter of my alma mater and proud to be a graduate of one of the great Ivy League education institutions in America. All I can testify to is that I was a member of the Class of ’83- just like Obama. And that I was Pre Law and a political science major- just like Obama. It was a small class- about 700 students. Political science majors would be an even smaller group. Therefore it struck me…and many others…as strange that I never met Obama at college, never saw him, never even heard of him in my time at Columbia. And that more importantly, I don’t know any classmate to this day who ever met or heard of a classmate named Barack Obama or Barry Obama or Barry Sotero. Even stranger still, the Wall Street Journal reported in its editorial pages back in 2008 that Fox News called 400 of my classmates and they could not find one student who had ever met Obama at Columbia. Adding to the mystery is the fact that President Obama has sealed all of his college records at Occidental and Columbia. All of this should be troubling to every American, no matter what your political beliefs.

At The Agitator, Jim Davidson rebuts in the comments:

Well, now we have another problem. You see, I met Wayne Root in Topeka, Kansas (at the zoo) for the Kansas state Libertarian Party convention. And I informed him that I met Barack Obama at Columbia University when we were both students there in Spring 1983. So Wayne is lying when he asserts, “No one I know from Columbia University has ever met or heard of a classmate named Barack Obama or Barry Sotero.”

He’s lying because he knows that I met Barack Obama and he’s lying because I told Wayne about it. Since May 2008 Wayne has also known that I was a student at Columbia University 1981-1985.

Not only did I meet and talk with Barack Obama at some length, he wrote an essay that was published in The Sundial magazine on campus in 1983. Over the byline “Barack Obama” is a discussion of the anti-war groups on campus, including Students Against Militarism, a group I was a member of. (I was also a member of Young Americans for Freedom.)

The article was published in March 1983, and there is ample evidence of its existence on the web. Simply search using your favourite search utility using this set of terms:
sundial magazine columbia barack obama
and you should find the article.

So, in summary, I was a student at Columbia, I met Barack Obama, I knew he was a student, and he and I talked, among other things, about my involvement in Students Against Militarism, my discomfort with its connection to Maoists and Stalinists on campus, and my favourite hat with political buttons all over it.

If Wayne Root is willing to lie about something as mundane as whether he ever met someone from Columbia who met Barack, what else is he willing to lie about?

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  1. Tony Lindner Tony Lindner February 27, 2011

    I believe it is wise to know your enemy and what they are thinking. I had no idea there were and is so many lies being circulated. You are my enemy, you are Americas enemy but I listen to you to know that better.

  2. Jim Davidson Jim Davidson June 5, 2010

    That’s so funny Jen. There are about thirty witnesses who saw me in the room at the zoo where the Kansas LP held its state convention in April. Root and Hancock were both there and debated who should be chair. I think they convinced the delegates that neither of them should be.

  3. JenS JenS June 1, 2010

    Yeah, I am pretty sure Jim is lying about the encounter with Root. Who knows what else.

  4. Change the @17 title to Change the @17 title to May 19, 2010

    The star gossip paper.

  5. He had 30 years to do this He had 30 years to do this May 19, 2010

    Look like Mr. Davidson is doing what most people do when they are on the The Star magazine. Make up stuff to get attention, next he will say he knows Obama or he is related to him somehow, like a long lost relative.

  6. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz May 18, 2010

    Hmm, let’s see. Davidson in the past has written that I am “scum”, “authoritarian”, “mad with power”, that I “like to see women and children massacred”, and that I am a “bloodthirsty coward”.

    In this thread, I post two pictures of him, and the worst I call him is “scruffy” and “forgettable”.

    But suddenly, I am guilty of a “personal attack” on him — even as he spouts about “garbage” and “piss”.

    Yes, it is this firm grip on reality that Mr. Davidson exudes, that makes it unforgivable that Root would not take him seriously when Davidson confronted him. At the zoo.

    Speaking of bodily excretions, I wonder if at the Topeka zoo there are any monkeys that, when they throw their own poo, ever whine when some of it lands on themselves…

  7. Jim Davidson Jim Davidson May 18, 2010

    But I do find it delightful that Brian Holz-in-his-thinking goes for the personal attack on me. Brian is a piece of garbage that I would scrape off the bottom of my shoe if I happened to step on him. If he were on fire, I would not piss on him to save his life.

  8. Carolyn Marbry Carolyn Marbry May 17, 2010

    Holtz @8: Root is a master of remembering names, faces and pertinent details (like partner’s name, children’s names and ages, specific interests) about people he meets, even if he only meets them once. It’s one of those rare people skills that has made him so successful both in the party and out, and I’ve seen it in action many times over the years.

    So I don’t really buy that Root would have forgotten or dismissed his interaction with Davidson based on his appearance (come on, really?) or the location where they met. In fact, I doubt very much he would have forgotten an exchange in which someone — anyone — approached him and directly refuted the claim he’d been making about Obama. The very strangeness of the encounter should have marked it in his mind and at least led to some serious fact checking.

  9. Solomon Drek Solomon Drek May 17, 2010

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am sooooooooooo glad I quit the Libertarian Party years ago.

    You people belong in a sandbox wearing diapers and throwing toys at each other.

    The fact that W.A.R. can even be taken seriously as a candidate or chairman, or anything else related to the Libertarian Party, shows how truly bankrupt and devoid of ideological integrity the LP has devolved into.

    Grandpa Munster and Howard Stern have more credibility than W.A.R.

    I really think some of you are drinking W.A.R.’s snake-oil laced with kool-aid. But keep it up, the LP has been irrelevant for decades and will continue to be nothing more than the political equivalent of backyard wrestling.

  10. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz May 17, 2010

    Paulie, Wayne Root surely only meets a dozen or two Libertarians a year. You can’t tell me that he would forget meeting this guy:

    Hell, Davidson is so forgettable that I even failed to notice him in Knapp’s “shadow cabinet” when I agreed to join it. It was only later that the bells went off, and so I posted at

    I resign from the shadow cabinet organized by Tom Knapp.

    When I agreed to the appointment, I didn’t notice that the “Jim” being appointed as shadow NASA Administrator was the same person who has written that I am “scum”, “authoritarian”, “mad with power”, that I “like to see women and children massacred”, and that I am a “bloodthirsty coward”. Not surprisingly, he admits he is “obnoxious and disliked, I know it’s true. So what?” Mr. Davidson may have no qualms serving alongside someone he describes in this manner, but my standards are different.

    My favorite part is this:

    I met Wayne Root in Topeka, Kansas (at the zoo) for the Kansas state Libertarian Party convention. And I informed him that I met Barack Obama at Columbia University when we were both students there in Spring 1983. So Wayne is lying when he asserts…”

    If a guy who looks like this

    comes up to me at the zoo and tells me that he knows who I am and that he graduated from my prestigious Ivy League alma mater, I just don’t know which memory file this little episode would end up in.

    Alas, Davidson is apparently all too real, and Root should now say that the only alleged Columbia classmate who ever claims to have met Obama there was a scruffy anarchist who recognized Root at the zoo.

  11. Vaughn Vaughn May 17, 2010

    Did he just say he doesn’t like conspiracy theories and then went on to explain his own conspiracy theory about Obama not going to Columbia?

  12. Erik G. Erik G. May 17, 2010

    paulie @ 3,

    So, what you’re saying is that they’ll use Holtz-like tactics of arguing semantics instead of arguing what he’s trying to imply without explicitly stating? Gotcha.

    It’s clear to me what WAR is trying to imply, but you’re likely right in that they’ll turn to a semantics argument in defending their boy, as if this saves him from his implied narrative.

  13. Erik G. Erik G. May 17, 2010

    Why isn’t anyone playing up WAR’s quotes from this old Reason article, btw?

    Some excerpts:

    Root: I am! That’s my point. Where was Obama? He wasn’t an outgoing young man, no one ever heard of him.

    Tim Cavanaugh: Maybe he was a late bloomer.

    Root: Maybe. Or maybe he was involved in some sort of black radical politics.

    Welch: Ooooooooooh.

    Root: Maybe he was too busy smoking pot in his dorm room to ever show up for class. I don’t know what he was doing!


    Welch: That’s peculiar! Do you have any theories?

    Root: Don’t have any theories. I don’t know. Don’t know why. Kept to himself…. The only thing I could even imagine is that he talks in his biographies about being, you know, his identity crisis, his “am I black or am I white?” He chose black. And he hung out with a couple of black kids and never went near anybody and his wife? That’s the only thing I can think of. All my buddies are white, what can I tell you! They don’t know him, nobody’s ever seen him, I don’t know what to tell you.

    Other guy: That’s the era.

    Root: That’s the era. I mean, when I went to Columbia, the black kids were all at like tables going “Black Power!” We used to walk by and go, “What the hell are they talking about.” And they didn’t associate with us and we didn’t associate with them. So if you track down a couple of black students, they’ll probably know him. But nobody white’s ever heard of this guy. It’s quite amazing. Nobody remembers him. They don’t remember him sitting in class.


    Root: And I’d be willing to bet every dime I have in the world, a million dollars I’ll put, I’ll put a million dollars cash on the fact—

    Welch: This is on the record—

    Root: —that my GPA was better than Barack’s—

    Welch: Oooooh.

    Root: …and he got in based on the color of his skin.

    Does anyone doubt that possibly Barack could have gotten into Harvard with a C average because he’s black, where as I, white, couldn’t get into the same school with a B-plus, A-minus average? And yet his wife says that America is a terrible nation unfair to minorities! I say, Au contraire!

    I say the whole problem with America is we are racist against people because of the color of their skin. We’re helping people because they’re black. We’re helping people because they’re minority. We’re helping people because they’re poor. In reality only those who have the most skill and talent should get into Harvard, not because of the color of their skin.

    So now I ask out loud in the press, I challenge my classmate to give his GPA against mine. And let’s see if he really is the bright guy they all say he is. What if we discover he got into Harvard with a C average? Is he then the brilliant man America thinks he is? That would be a very good question, don’t you think?


    Welch: The follow-up I want to ask is: What if it’s better than yours? You just said a million dollars!

    Root: Well, who’s taking the bet? I didn’t hear anyone accept. No, I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ll go out on a limb. Listen, they always said with O.J. Simpson, you know, never ask the question if you don’t know the answer, does the glove fit? I don’t know the answer but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. He had a lower average than me and he got into Harvard and I didn’t.

    And so my answer is, has America really been unfair to minorities? No it hasn’t. It was unfair to me. A white butcher’s kid, whose father had no money, but nobody gave me a break. And do I have a chip on my shoulder? You’re damn right I do. And I represent millions and millions of poor people in this country who weren’t lucky enough to be poor and black, they were unlucky enough to be poor and white, and they can’t get into Harvard. So maybe that country Barack’s fighting for, he’s got the wrong country here. He’s been just fine in this country. The rest of us need someone to defend them….


    It’s almost like WAR has Buchanan ’92 era campaign advisors.

  14. paulie paulie May 17, 2010


    That’s easy. Wayne said: “I don’t know any classmate to this day who ever met or heard of a classmate named Barack Obama or Barry Obama or Barry Sotero”

    A) Wayne meant class of ’83, not Davidson’s class of ’85.

    B) Wayne did not know Davidson at Columbia either, so he is referring to people he actually remembers from Columbia.

    C) Wayne does not recall the conversation with Davidson.

    Take your pick. And I’m not even “pro-WAR” as he is not among my top choices for chair.

  15. Nicholas N Burdohan Nicholas N Burdohan May 17, 2010

    There is always an angle. I look forward to reading this thread.

  16. Erik G. Erik G. May 17, 2010

    I can’t wait to hear the pro-WAR crowd’s response to this.

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