The ‘Ayers Wrote Obama’s Book’ Theorist Gets a Sympathizer
Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 10:09 am
For more than a year, conservative journalist Jack Cashill has argued that a textual analysis of “Dreams From My Father” reveals that it was ghostwritten for Barack Obama by former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Because Cashill’s analyses depended on comparisons of similar cliches and reading grade levels, they never got far out of WorldNetDaily. But Cashill is back, arguing that anecdotes in a new book by quick-turnaround author Christopher Andersen prove the Ayers-as-Obama-mastermind case.
The punchline? Andersen, who has written dozens of tabloid-style books, cites someone else for the Ayers research. He cites Jack Cashill.
According to Cashill, Andersen’s contribution to the Ayers storyline is the recollection of “a Hyde Park neighbor” who claims that Obama, struggling with the book, gave “oral histories, along with a partial manuscript and a truckload of notes” to Ayers and asked for advice. Any author or anyone who knows an author is probably chuckling at this point — passing unfinished portions to colleagues with some time and experience is pretty standard.
If you take Andersen on his word, it’s true that this anecdote portrays Ayers and Obama as closer friends than they let on during the campaign. But it’s a big leap from there to Cashill’s characterization of “the Obama-as-Milli Vanilli story.” Indeed, Andersen doesn’t even report that story out. He writes that “Ayers’ contribution to Barack’s ‘Dreams From My Father’ would be significant – so much so that the book’s language, oddly specific references, literary devices and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers’s own writing.” For that analysis he cites Cashill, whose previous analyses of “Dreams” been along these lines:
[W]hen the young Obama pontificates about “angry young men in Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta,” one hears the voice of someone much edgier and more aware than Obama. This reference reflects Ayers’ worldview of America as a “marauding monster,” one that terrorizes its own citizens of color just as it does those in the Third World.
Ayers does not define himself as being part of this monster but rather sees himself and his colleagues as saboteurs “behind enemy lines.”
Curiously, Obama used the exact same phrase – “behind enemy lines” – to describe his own status while working in corporate America.
I think it’s telling that when asked to expand on this in an interview with Sean Hannity, Andersen moved on. The most potentially explosive section of his book and he doesn’t want to talk about it? Would he do that if his research consisted of more than citing the obsessive Cashill?
I’ve read both “Dreams From My Father” and Ayers’s memoir “Fugitive Days,” which was published six years after “Dreams.” Ayers’s book is worse. He uses a William Faulkner trope and eschews quotation marks; Obama liberally reconstructs conversations with friends, even creating some composite characters to speak with. And Ayers’s book is stuffed with howlers like “The Fourth of July bombs were all good bombs, except sometimes” and “I felt now at the epicenter of a resistance so wide and so deep that it would quickly disrupt the cotton wool of consciousness afflicting the country.” The irony of the Ayers conspiracy is that Obama is a better writer than Ayers, whose pretentiousness oozes off the pages.
Cashill’s column on the whole mess basically argues that the Ayers theory should wreck Obama’s credibility, because “the left has been at pains to depict Republicans – George Bush and Sarah Palin most recently – as dunces because they were unable to write their own books.” Of course, Obama wrote a second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” 10 years after “Dreams,” and so far no literary analysts have tried to prove it was ghosted by Jeremiah Wright. So it’s really not clear to me what this conspiracy theory is supposed to prove. Might Ayers have programmed Obama by making suggestive references to the Mekong Delta in the den of a Hyde Park mansion 14 years ago? I’ll quote David Freddoso, the author of the bestselling “The Case Against Barack Obama,” whom I asked about this theory.
Cashill’s stuff on this was a lot of crap, all conjecture and no concrete evidence.
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