Friday, September 25, 2009

Puttin' On Ayers

We can all agree that the Barack Obama "birth certificate" theory is the sort of thing that gives baseless conspiracy theories a bad name. Are you ready for a new one? Bill Ayers was the ghost writer of "Dreams of My Father." Jack Cashill got things going several months ago at American Thinker:
Who Wrote Dreams Of My Father?
Shy of a confession by those involved, I will not be able to prove conclusively that Obama did not write this book. As shall be seen, however, there are only two real possibilities: one is that Obama experienced a near miraculous turnaround in his literary abilities; the second is that he had major editorial help, up to and including a ghostwriter.
The weight of the evidence overwhelming favors the latter conclusion and strongly suggests who that ghostwriter is. In that this remains something of a work in progress, I am willing to test my hypothesis against any standard of proof and appreciate any and all good leads.


I bought Bill Ayers' 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, for reasons unrelated to this project. As I discovered, he writes surprisingly well and very much like "Obama." In fact, my first thought was that the two may have shared the same ghostwriter. Unlike Dreams, however, where the high style is intermittent, Fugitive Days is infused with the authorial voice in every sentence. What is more, when Ayers speaks, even off the cuff, he uses a cadence and vocabulary consistent with his memoir. One does not hear any of Dreams in Obama's casual speech.

Obama's memoir was published in June 1995. Earlier that year, Ayers helped Obama, then a junior lawyer at a minor law firm, get appointed chairman of the multi-million dollar Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant. In the fall of that same year, 1995, Ayers and his wife, Weatherwoman Bernardine Dohrn, helped blaze Obama's path to political power with a fundraiser in their Chicago home
In short, Ayers had the means, the motive, the time, the place and the literary ability to jumpstart Obama's career. And, as Ayers had to know, a lovely memoir under Obama's belt made for a much better resume than an unfulfilled contract over his head.
Cashill's basic theory is that, if you compare "Dreams" with the collected works of Bill Ayers, you will find many similar uses of language, turns of phrase, metaphor, even memories. It's the sort of technique literary sleuths use to debunk forgeries and test plagarism claims.
Cashill has since expanded the scope of his study. This article has a number of links, as well as a "breakthrough:" Breakthrough On Authorship Of "Dreams of My Father"
Mr. West's analysis was systematic, comprehensive, and utterly, totally, damning. Of the 759 matches, none were frivolous. All were C-level or above, and I had no doubt of their authenticity. I had been gathering many of them in my own reserve waiting for a book-length opportunity to make my case. Mr. West had done the heavy lifting. He even indexed his matches. This represented months of works. As I learned, he had been patiently gathering material since
November when he first began building on my own research.
There are indeed, intriguing similarities:
Both authors, by the way, use the phrase "beneath the surface" repeatedly. And what they find beneath the surface, of course, is the disturbing truth about power disparities in the real America, which each refers to as an "imperial culture." Speaking of which, both insist that "knowledge" is "power" and seem consumed by the uses or misuses of power. Ayers, in fact, evokes the word "power" and its derivatives 75 times in Fugitive Days, Obama 83 times in Dreams.
More exotically, both authors evoke images of a "boy" riding on the backs of a "water buffalo" and prodding the beast not just with sticks, but with "bamboo sticks." Ayers places his boy in Vietnam. Obama puts his in Indonesia.
Both authors link Indonesia with Vietnam. In each case, clueless officials - plural -- with the "State Department" try to explain how the march of communism through "Indochina" will specifically imperil "Indonesia." The Ayers account, however, at least sounds vaguely real. The Obama account
sounds like an Ayers' memory imposed on Obama's mother. She allegedly discussed these geo political strategy sessions in Indonesia with her pre-teen son
There's a lot more, if you are interested. There's a certain degree of obsessivenes at work here, what with references to "C-level matches," and such. Also some of the matches really aren't matches at all. Cashill gets worked up over Ayers and Barack using - and misquoting - the same Carl Sandburg line about "Chicago...Hog Butcher of The World," a line so common as to be trite. Actually, it's a line beloved by progressive academics pretending at tough-guy working class solidarity. Still, many of the matches are ... intriguing, especially the business about the water-buffalo. Cashill also notes the amusing fact that Ayers was once a merchant seaman (really!) and that sea-going metaphors litter his works, as they do in "Dreams".

The basic problem for Cashill's theory: many of the matches are little more than progressive cliches, which Ayers and Obama are each masters at twisting and deploying. For example, Ayers and Obama each tell similar stories about rejecting a school friend as a way to illustrate endemic racism. However, such stories are common on the flagellant Left

Cashill admits that he can't prove his case without a confession from those who were there, but now comes word from the reliable Ron Rasdosh that a recently published puff-piece about the First Couple has inadvertently let the cat out of the bag:
Did Barack Obama Write Dreams of My Father?
Cashill picked up the new bestseller about Obama and his wife, Christopher
Barack and Michelle:Portrait of an American Marriage. What
he found simply threw him for a loop because, I suspect, it was the last thing
Cashill expected to find. Andersen writes in his book that after Obama finally
got a new contract to write a book, Michelle Obama suggested that her husband
get advice “from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.”


Tom Maguire was skeptical enough to go to Barnes & Noble:
Steal This Book
Through the looking glass - On the topic of the authorship of "Dreams", Chris
Andersen actually quotes Jack Cashill, linked above, who has been driving the
"Ayers as ghostwriter" story. Andersen's version is that Obama compiled
copious notes and musings, bundled them with some taped interviews with
relatives, and dropped the mess in Ayer's lap for guidance on how to turn it
into a book. This was the summer of 1994,and the result was a book with a
lot of Ayer's language and themes.
Amazing is not the word.

In Obama's defense, he is not the first politician to have a ghost writer help him with a best-seller. JFK famously didn't really write "Profiles In Courage" all by his lonesome self. But it gives you an idea how much liberals have degenerated that, instead of Arthur Schlesinger, they are relying on the Bill Ayers of the world.

Does it matter if Bill Ayers "wrote" (or more likely heavily edited) "Dreams of My Father?" Well, it's not an impeachable offence. But, it would undercut one of the pillars of Obama's appeal: that he is an intellectual heavyweight who can see around corners before the rest of us. It would also put to rest the lie that Ayers was just "a guy in Obama's neighborhood." And there is the peculiar mental image of the collaboration between the terrorist Ayers and the then-obscure Obama.

Mostly, though, it would be further proof that progressives are very comfortable lying and shading the truth in their quest for cosmic justice.

UPDATE: I couldn't resist. I went down to Books Inc. on my coffee break to look over Anderson's book. He does indeed mention the Ayers connection. He bluntly states that Michelle herself suggested that Barack give his notes and nascent manuscript to Ayers, who was happy to oblige. Just what any "guy in MY neighborhood" would do! Anderson also quotes Cashill, who really deserves an award for sniffing this out. Oh, and Anderson makes no bones about the fact that the Obamas knew about Ayers' past, but thought nothing of it.

Ayers' ghost writing - really he pulled together the manuscript from Obama's notes and research - is his first and last appearance in the book, so Anderson gets a solid B for mainstreaming the "Ayers" theory, but didn't seem to realize that this is proof positive that Ayers knew Obama much earlier than Obama has admitted. I've seen serious speculation that they knew each other in 1988, and maybe even have crossed paths at Columbia in the early Eighties.

This odd story certainly needs more exposure than it has gotten.

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