The major media will not likely tackle the emerging evidence of Obama's stunning literary fraud, but the days of Obama's boasting about his writing skills are just as likely over. The immediate cause of concern at the White House is Christopher Andersen's largely benign new book, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage.
Andersen contends that the ambitious Obama, unaware of JFK's own literary fraud, hoped to launch his own political career with a book as did John Kennedy with the discreetly ghost-written Profiles In Courage. Despite a large advance, Obama found himself "hopelessly blocked." After four futile years of trying to finish, Obama "sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers." This he did "at Michelle's urging," she being the more pragmatic half of the couple.
What attracted the Obamas were "Ayers's proven abilities as a writer." Barack particularly liked the fluid novelistic style of To Teach, a 1993 book by Ayers. This he hoped to emulate for his own family history. In fact, he had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, both African and American. The key sentence in Andersen's account is the one that follows: "These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers." Adds Andersen, "Thanks to help from veteran writer Ayers, Barack would be able to submit a manuscript to his editors at Times Book." The manuscript in question would become Obama's 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, what Joe Klein of Time Magazine called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."
From textual sleuthing, I had come to a comparable conclusion more than a year ago, namely that Obama had "turned the framework of his life over to terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers who roughed it in with his own darker sentiments and experiences."
As one example of Ayers' involvement, I had argued that Dreams' tale of Obama's year-long relationship with a rich, green-eyed lovely seemed to have mined the details of Ayers' own relationship to the late Weatherwoman Diana Oughton. From a close reading, I doubted there was such a girl in Obama's life. So does Andersen. "No one," he writes, "including his roommate and closest friend at the time, Siddiqi, knew of this mysterious lover's existence."
It did not matter, however, how accurate was my analysis. From the perspective of Obama's literary defenders, I was a barbarian who could effectively be kept in check outside the gates.
Andersen writes from within the gates. He has no agenda. His book is dispassionate, softly liberal and largely sympathetic to the Obamas, particularly to Michelle and her family. A popular celebrity journalist, he interviewed some 200 people for the book, many of them close to the Obama family. The Obamas had likely given at least their tacit blessing to the project. Given that the natural audience for his book skews female and left, Andersen had no reason to invent facts that would alienate his base. He has no track record of doing the same.
Although Andersen cites me on textual comparisons, I was clearly not the source for the personal details of Obama's life. His retelling of the story was based on what he had been told by someone very close to the action. He had access to people who would never have talked to me, quite possibly Michelle herself or even Bill Ayers.
Clearly shaken, the Obama-centric media find themselves in a fix not unlike that of medieval astronomers upon discovery of a new planet. Every time this happened, these geocentrists had to figure out a convoluted new loop to describe the planet's rotation around the earth. So it is with challenges to the Obama myth, even unwitting ones like Andersen's. Obama's acolytes must find some convoluted new explanation to account for each unexpected deviance from the mythic overview.
Defenses mustered in the last few days include a lack of attribution by Andersen, his ignorance of an imagined "computerized analysis" by an Oxford professor, the citation of me as source and/or a reliance upon me as source. Each of these explanations implies that Andersen is a fraud and a liar and that he contrived the story he told. Andersen's highly successful career as a celebrity journalist argues strongly against such an interpretation.
What impresses the reader about these defenses is how easily their architects satisfy themselves and presumably the Obama faithful with their soundness. The Washington Independent's David Weigel, for instance, is among those who dismiss Andersen's claim because he credits me as a source. To trivialize my contribution, Weigel cites one point of comparison between Obama and Ayers -- their mutual use of the phrase "behind enemy lines" to establish their place in capitalist America -- as though I had not also listed hundreds of other such comparisons, many much more compelling.
Had he read Andersen's book, which he does not appear to have, Weigel would have seen that Andersen's retelling of the story was based not on what I had written but on what Andersen had been told by someone who was on the scene. A close reading of the book, however, might have shaken Weigel's faith in his Milli Vanilli of messiahs.
"I've written two books," Obama told a crowd of students and teachers in Virginia last year. "I actually wrote them myself." The media should be able to protect his reputation among the willfully blind but don't expect to hear Obama make comparable boasts in the near future.
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here