Thursday, October 8, 2009

Did Obama Really Write "Dreams From My Father"?

Or did radical Bill Ayers, co-founder of the Weather Underground, write it?

Jack Cashill writes:
In his new book, "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage," Best-selling celebrity journalist, Christopher Andersen, has blown a huge hole in the Obama genius myth without intending to do so.

Relying on inside sources, quite possibly Michelle Obama herself, Andersen describes how Dreams came to be published -- just as I had envisioned it in my articles on the authorship of Dreams. With the deadline pressing, Michelle recommended that Barack seek advice from "his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers."

To flesh out his family history, Obama had taped interviews with various family members. Andersen writes, "These oral histories, along with a partial manuscript and a truckload of notes, were given to Ayers." Andersen quotes a Hyde Park neighbor, "Everyone knew they were friends and that they worked on various projects together. It was no secret. Why would it be? People liked them both."

Andersen continues, "In the end, Ayers's 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."

Cashill on Obama's first known public writing:

Prior to 1990, when Barack Obama contracted to write Dreams From My Father, he had written very close to nothing. Then, five years later, this untested 33 year-old produced what Time Magazine has called -- with a straight face -- "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."...

The public is asked to believe Obama wrote Dreams From My Father on his own, almost as though he were some sort of literary idiot savant. I do not buy this canard for a minute, not at all. Writing is as much a craft as, say, golf. To put this in perspective, imagine if a friend played a few rounds in the high 90s and then a few years later, without further practice, made the PGA Tour. It doesn't happen

Tracing Obama's literary ascent is complicated by what calls a "scant paper trail." That trail begins at Occidental College whose literary magazine published two of Obama's poems -- "Pop" and "Underground" -- in 1981. Obama calls it some "very bad poetry," and he does not sell himself short. From "Underground":

Under water grottos, caverns

Filled with apes

That eat figs.

Stepping on the figs

That the apes

Eat, they crunch.

The apes howl, bare

Their fangs, dance

For the similarities between Ayers writing style and the writing in "Dreams" see Cashill, here

And Ayers was clearly playing with this blogger, but how?

Note: The interest here is not because Obama used a ghost writer, but the fact that the writing in "Dreams" is used as evidence of Obama's intellect. Second, during the presidential race Obama distances himself from Ayers and implied he barely knew the man.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the controversy around JFK's "Profiles In Courage" (which won the Pullitzer). There is a good summary of that controversy here. It seems that JFK at least acknowledged some 'help' from Ted Sorenson.