Dr. Jack Cashill first raised the question earlier in the month, and made a compelling (but not convincing) argument that the author of both books was not Barack Obama, but prolific author, upstanding Chicago citizen and unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.
Now, Cashill shores up his thesis with more detail.
Cashill is wrong when he says Obama contributed “not one word” to the Harvard Law Review – it has been determined that he contributed at least this piece, on abortion rights – while he was editor, there.
However, this is pretty interesting. Remember, the Obama books are lyrical, gorgeous bits of writing, well-crafted and moving, with an impressive seamlessness:
In 1990 Obama also contributed an essay to a book published by the University of Illinois at Springfield, an anthology called After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois.
Although the essay covers many of the issues raised in Dreams and uses some of the memoir’s techniques, it does so without a hint of style, sophistication, or promise. The following two excerpts capture Obama’s range or lack thereof:
“Moreover, such approaches can and have become thinly veiled excuses for cutting back on social programs, which are anathema to a conservative agenda.”
“But organizing the black community faces enormous problems as well . . . and the urban landscape is littered with the skeletons of previous efforts.”
These cliché-choked sentences go beyond the merely unpromising to the fully ungrammatical. “Organizing” does not “face.” “Efforts” do not leave “skeletons.” “Agendas” do not have “anathemas.” Indeed, the essay is clunky, pedestrian, and wonkish, a B- paper in a freshman comp class.
The evidence strongly suggests that Ayers transformed the stumbling literalist of “Why Organize” into the sophisticated postmodernist of Dreams, and he did not so not by tutoring Obama, but by rewriting his text. The Ayers’ quotes that follow come from an essay of his, “Narrative Push/Narrative Pull.” The Obama quotes come from Dreams:…
It’s a long piece, difficult to excerpt, but do read it. No, it is not conclusive. But it is intriguing enough to raise legitimate doubt about Obama’s authorship, and Ayer’s input.
“Why does that matter,” you ask, “Ted Sorenson ghost-wrote Profiles in Courage for John F. Kennedy. Most books at that level are ghost written!”
True. But Ted Sorenson is not Bill Ayers, and – most problematically – Obama has spent a good chunk of time suggesting that his association with Ayers was casual, happenstance and shallow.
A man does not ghost-write two books for you and remain a casual acquaintance. More likely, this is a fellow you’ve spent a great deal of time with, shared meals and bottles of wine with, and spoken to in depth about your deepest beliefs and yearnings.
If Cashill is correct, and Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama’s books, it matters, because it demonstrates Obama’s comfort level with a man who cheerfully trods upon the flag while admitting that he wishes he’d blown up more buildings and terrorized more of his fellow citizens; a man who is still actively engaged in pursuing “revolution” within America, albeit revolution from within the safety of the establishment and tenure – revolution through the classroom rather than the streets.
Obama has said Ayers would “have no part in my administration.” He doesn’t have to have a part in Obama’s administration. Good friends are good friends. They have your ear whether in an official capacity or not.
So…take it for what it’s worth. As I said, there is no smoking gun, and Cashill cannot wholly close his case. But he does open a door to some serious wondering.
Which, come to think of it, leaves me to wondering something else…how come a global economic crisis that just two weeks ago was the most pressing concern in the whole wide world has all but fallen off the map, to be replaced by…Joe the Plumber?
Kind of weird, isn’t that?
UPDATED: Reader EW notes that the authorship question is also important because people like her mother – and Christopher Buckley – are voting for Obama on the strength of his writing. I have a friend who also was quite impassioned about Obama, writing, “did you read those books,” as an argument for a vote. Good point, EW.
UPDATE II: The debate goes on. Ann Althouse examines Cashill and finds his assertions – as I do – interesting but not convincing. So does NRO’s Andrew McCarthy, although Adler, over there, says “come on, this guy has no credibility.” And, seeing this, I say it is very fair to question whether Cashill is capable of making a truly fair and unbiased analysis. So…I remain unconvinced and wondering.