Have you ever had a fake girlfriend or boyfriend…a fictional character made up to impress your friends? If so, you have something in common with Notre Dame’s star linebacker, Manti Te’o—and the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
You’ve probably heard the Manti Te’o story, which was all over the news this week. For several years he claimed to have a girlfriend he never had…or that he had online, but never actually met. Facts are still emerging about whether Manti was the victim of a hoax, a participant, or both.
All this happened when Manti Te’o was just an immature kid, 21 years old. But there will surely be consequences when NFL draft day comes on April 25. Manti’s stock already has dramatically fallen because of these revelations about his fake girlfriend.
However, while Manti is just a football player, perhaps we should be much more concerned about the story of another fabricated girlfriend. Her name is Genevieve, and she’s the “New York girlfriend” Barack Obama described in his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father. Like Manti Te’o, President Obama has had to admit that this girlfriend never actually existed. Instead, he now says, she was merely a composite or “compression” of various girls he knew in his younger days. (You can read about this in last year’s story by Dylan Byers in The Politico: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/05/obama-ny-girlfriend-was-composite-character-122272.html.)
There are only a few differences between Manti’s story and the President’s. Barack Obama was more than 10 years older when he concocted his story, and he never claimed that a hoax was played on him. He admitted that he made up the story of Genevieve, and his biographer writes that “none of this happened.”
But the other difference is simply that while Manti will no doubt experience lasting ridicule and consequences for his tall tale, President Obama will not. In fact, the public opinion poll that came out this week says his popularity is even growing.
The moral of the story? If you make up a story to enhance your resume, don’t count on getting away with it. Not everyone is so lucky.