Politics

Ayers From My Father

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Ronald Radosh claims there is new evidence that former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers ghostwrote President Obama's early memoir Dreams From My Father.

Ghostwriting as I understand it can take many forms. The literary issue is unimportant to Radosh and his source -- Ingram's magazine editor and Nazi hunter Jack Cashill -- who are concerned only with placing Ayers and fledgling author Barack Obama together. (Candidate Obama disowned Ayers and denied that they had an extensive relationship.)

I am interested in the literary issue. I read and enjoyed Dreams From My Father, and to the extent President Obama disappoints me (a very limited extent, as the Obama Administration has mostly been what I expected), he disappoints me by not being more like the character in the book.

Author Obama did not conceal his hard-left inclinations or his family's history of socialistic politics. But he repeatedly dramatized his own disaffection with the buttoned-down liberal consensus. (Maybe this is some thumbprint of the New Leftist Ayers?) The narrative is basically a series of epiphanies about the failures of parents, grandparents, male role models, friends and finally mentors, with the climax (which was a little anti-climactic) being the narrator's graduation from these many imperfect schools. I hadn't really expected, but had hoped, that the Barry who hung out with lesbian marxist poets and punk rock performance artists might take a little more of a burn-baby-burn attitude toward institutions that were, for example, sacred to both Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill.

President Obama, on the other hand, governs as the answer to the question historians have been puzzling over for decades: What if Adlai Stevenson had taken it back in '52? If Obama were the radical demagogue I keep hearing he is, he'd probably be more relevant. Consensus politics have never been deader, yet Obama keeps ruling as if we're in some great age of the vital center.

As for who wrote the book, I'm just a simple caveman, but aren't questions like this one the reason President Wilson invented authorship attribution and statistical text analysis software?

NEXT: D.C. Taxi Scandal: Now With More Bribery!

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  1. i am even less of a simple caveman. so, pls explain the purpose of this article.

  2. rj, Tim's giving us a sneak preview of the next big thing in thinly-veiled racist anti-Obama conspiracy nutjobbery. This raises two points:

    1) What are we going to call the people who demand to see the original Doc file or handwritten manuscript with Obama DNA on it?

    2) meme suggestion: Whenever we make a grammatical or spelling error and only catch it after submitting, we blame the offending post on Bill Ayers.

  3. Why is Matt Welch Tim Cavanaugh such a racist? What, Obama can't write? Because a black man can't write for himself? What kind of bullshit is that?

  4. What does it mean, this?:

    > one the reason President Wilson
    > invented authorship attribution
    > and statistical text analysis
    > software?

    Cavenaugh has always had a problem with being too hipster for the room! grrrrr

  5. It's hilarious that Cavanaugh can't even recognize what BHO is doing and just how radical he is. He's bringing out major structural changes in the U.S., and the people he's selecting to run things aren't bomb throwers but more like moles. The person who handles intergov affairs is from a group that gave an award to someone who'd proposed genocide (the OK kind, against white people), and the "DiversityCzar" wanted to have co.'s fire white people. And, someone who used to be a member of the first group now sits on the SC.

    As for Cashill, if he had any sense he'd drop things like this that can never be proven without a smoking gun - something that's probably been destroyed if it ever existed - and concentrate on things that are objectively true and that can be used to strike against the MSM. If Cashill spent 1/100th the amount of time he's spent on his quest getting the answers to the questions in the FAX here he could make CNN, the SPLC, and many others look very bad.

  6. That's why I love having you around, Juaquo Loco. As always, I'll look into your claims.

  7. Shut the fuck up Lonewhacko.

  8. Don't bother, Tim. I wouldn't look into giving him a Dirty Sanchez.

  9. Oh, and for the record: Not only did I never doubt for an instant that Barack Obama was the author of DFMF when I was reading it. I actually had it figured that he was the only president since Gerald Ford who was capable of writing his own book.

  10. Cashill's arguments are intriguing to say the least. But they are unlikely to convince somebody sympathetic to Barack Obama. Some kind of statistical analysis has to be done, even if it's inconclusive. Disputes about authorship of high-profile books are nothing new; numerous studies of Mikhail Sholokhov's All Quiet Flows the Don have been done. This novel is a masterpiece of the 20th century Russian Literature and Sholokhov has received a Nobel Prize for it. However, neither before nor after writing it Sholokhov demonstrated an ability to write so well.

  11. Check http://www.wnd.com. 24Ahead is an idiot since Cashill does do and in depth analysis which will convince anyone with an open mind Ayers wrote the book.

  12. Gerald Ford wrote a good bio of that young,idealistic,world traveling Marine.

  13. The ChildishRanting in the 9:57 post is not me. The spacing should have been a clue. Quit spoofing me or you'll have to answer to my lawyers.

  14. Tim,

    Weren't your expectations of him to simply be black? That's pretty much a campaign promise he was bound to keep. 🙂

  15. to the extent President Obama disappoints me (a very limited extent, as the Obama Administration has mostly been what I expected)

    You can't disappoint a pessimist. Every day is better than you expect!

  16. The first comment is from me, the second is not. Since Welch has left comments here asking people to refrain from using others' names, perhaps Reason could take the next step and reveal their IP addresses and whether they match up with the IP addresses used by others; I'm willing to provide Reason with scripts that will make such IDing easier.

    As for my comment, the group that SoniaS was a member of is the NCLR. A former VP of that group is now the White House director of intergovernmental affairs.

    And, from this: At another conference, [an FCC official formerly with CAP] spoke about the need to remove white people from powerful positions in the media to give minorities a fairer chance.

    The most important thing is simple: find someone who can get a HI official on the line and get them to answer to simple, cut-and-dried questions in the FAX at the link in my comment. Then, use that to force a correction from CNN. Then, use the CNN correction to force corrections from those who relied on their report. That will be like kidney-slapping the MSM, so I don't really expect Reason to do it.

  17. If only the energy expended on trying to make Obama and Ayers into twin brothers and coming up with ACORN conspiracy theories that make Truthers seem almost reasonable was instead used to actually critique the actual policies of the administration.

    I have a friend that tells 3-4 teleprompter jokes a day, but couldn't come up with an actual complaint about any policy that has been proposed or implemented other than a generic "Socialsm!"

  18. I read and enjoyed Dreams From My Father

    Enjoyed? I thought you were cool.

    I read it when the Ayers-ghost theory was first floating, having read plenty of Ayers's stuff already, and Dreams is just too crappy to have been his work.

    I doubt Obama's written anything that's come out under his name since then, but that book is so him, such a dorky pseudo-intellectual poseur-turd, it can't have been edited, let alone ghosted.

    Or maybe it's an unprecedented parodic metafictional tour de force. Ayers can't do those. Do we know where Pynchon was?

  19. 1. Fun fact: the post in which I asked Reason commenter John Thacker not to lie about me is #15 for his name without quotes in Google. Maybe whoever left the second message might end up higher, once we know his or her full name.

    2. Regarding the lack of discussion of BHO's policies, blame your leaders. There is almost no push for an honest and open discussion of important policies. Instead, all we got were horserace stories and more or less rewrites of press releases. I tried to change that by urging people to go out and engage politicians in impromptu debates, and got almost no help (a guest blogger at ace.mu.nu promoted a comment I left into the full post, but that was the last help I got). Blame your leaders if you don't like that situation: Reason, Instapundit, Fox, all the rest.

  20. SG, I agree that these intricate conspiracy theories on both sides of the supposed aisle are a grand waste of time. But I think the people who are capable of critical thought are waiting for Obama to actually produce a substantive policy proposal. So far all his actions are reducible to rubber-stamping the Bush agenda.

  21. The most popular theories as to the real author of Obama's book are Ben Johnson, Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe.

  22. Bayesian classifiers, like those used to filter out spam, are actually extremely good at determining authorship, given enough words. If you can get enough samples of writing that is definitely President Obama's work and enough samples for Ayers, you can probably classify each page in the book as by one of them, both, or neither.

  23. ""I have a friend that tells 3-4 teleprompter jokes a day, but couldn't come up with an actual complaint about any policy that has been proposed or implemented other than a generic "Socialsm!"

    What are you going for?
    - worse than Bush?
    - worse than McCain would have been?

    -as bad as Bush?
    - just crappy in general?

    Crappy in general would be pretty easy.
    Actually all of them except for "worse than McCain" would be pretty easy from a conservative or a libertarian standpoint.

    I can send your friend some talking points if you want, or you could just point him to this website.

  24. Some Guy | September 24, 2009, 11:25pm | #

    If only the energy expended on trying to make Obama and Ayers into twin brothers and coming up with ACORN conspiracy theories that make Truthers seem almost reasonable

    It's not a theory when it's on tap.

  25. on tape, rather

  26. Lonewacko: kudos for the lucidity. Points deducted once more for the oh-so-evident sense of self-importance.

  27. The only dream Obama's dad had was nailing a white chick. Check! Mission accomplished.

    How could he seriously climb into his absentee dad's head. Unless of course he recognized from his few interactions that they were wired the same way.

    Ergo...Obama's dream was nailing a black chick. Check! Mission accomplished.

    Racial bullshit politics in a nutshell. My individuality is overcome by my tendency to conquer or submit to another 'group' of humans which ironically I proxy with one representative of that 'group'. And worse yet, based on a horribly antiquated understanding of human genetic diversity.

    Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!

  28. I haven't read Dreams, but found Cashill's analysis moderately convincing. Obama was a pretty terrible writer back in his college days, from the few scraps that have been found. And it's clear he's been lying about his relationship with Ayers, because they've shared circles/causes/neighborhoods for decades.

  29. "I actually had it figured that he was the only president since Gerald Ford who was capable of writing his own book."

    Give me a fucking break. Do we have to put up with the nauseating "Barack Obama is so fucking brilliant" bullshit here too?

  30. "...and coming up with ACORN conspiracy theories that make Truthers seem almost reasonable..."

    Conspiracy theories? Oh, wait, you are right. Those videos were actually shot on a sound stage using paid actors. And all those lawsuits and indictments against ACORN in 15 states? The Jews are actually behind all that.

  31. "I have a friend that tells 3-4 teleprompter jokes a day, but couldn't come up with an actual complaint about any policy that has been proposed or implemented other than a generic 'Socialsm'".

  32. "Tim's giving us a sneak preview of the next big thing in thinly-veiled racist anti-Obama conspiracy nutjobbery."

    Did Ayers write it or not? How compelling is the evidence? Will anyone actually confront Obama on the issue? It's possible that this could just be the first step in undeniably proving that the Obama line of "I barely knew the guy" isn't accurate.

  33. So far all his actions are reducible to rubber-stamping the Bush agenda.

    Which is plenty enough to complain about.

    What are you going for?
    - worse than Bush?
    - worse than McCain would have been?
    - as bad as Bush?
    - just crappy in general?

    I'd love something more like "The health care 'reforms' are nothing more than a massive government subsidy on top of the strengthening of the worst parts of our current system." As opposed to say "We have the greatest system in the world!"

    It's not a theory when it's on tape.

    Borat has people on tape. That doesn't make those people capable of rigging elections. If anything, the tapes just show how incompetent they are.

    And all those lawsuits and indictments against ACORN in 15 states? The Jews are actually behind all that.

    Are all completely valid, and will hopefully lead to the group losing all federal and state funding. And it would be nice if people could take that as a victory, instead of making us all look bad by trying to turn them into Bond villains. They're Seth Evil, at best.

  34. B, the reason staff has to say crap like that. They are under tremendous scrutiny by their collegues, who would use anything, especially racism to marginalize their wacky views on freedom. And, Some Guy, your friend hasn't mentioned snitch websites and NEA propaganda calls? Or maybe some of those classy gifts, perhaps?

  35. "Weren't your expectations of him to simply be black?"

    Not only that, but he was not monumentally unqualified, and his kids liked him!

    Fuck. This is what happens when you give anything with a pulse the right to vote.

  36. I find it somewhat amusing that Obama found the time to write not one, but TWO autobiographies, yet non-autobiographical writings of his (from say, his stint as top guy at the Harvard Law Review) are either hidden away under lock and key, or totally nonexistent.

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  38. I find it somewhat amusing that Obama found the time to write not one, but TWO autobiographies,

    The monumental narcissistic self-regard is staggering, true, and confirmed by his habit of treating critics as illegitimate and criticism of his policies as personal attacks.

  39. Yeah I don't really get the Obama is a crazed leninist stuff.

    He's the most conventional mainstream politician on the planet where conventional = preserving the rents & privileges of the ruling class: the banking oligarchs.

    Due to his somewhat unconventional background (for a politician) he overcompensates by being extra-conventional. Very clever of Goldman Sachs to pick him to be their lackey.

  40. Oh, and for the record: Not only did I never doubt for an instant that Barack Obama was the author of DFMF when I was reading it. I actually had it figured that he was the only president since Gerald Ford who was capable of writing his own book.

    Science, Tim, any chance I could get some of that weed you are smoking? I have yet to see this man express a single unique idea since he entered the public arena. But he is capable of writing his own book?! He wasn't named TOTUS soon after his election because of his intellectual depth.

  41. This is what happens when you give anything with a pulse the right to vote.

    I see you are making a narrow-minded attempt to minimize all the work (God's work!) ACORN has done to register vitally-challenged Americans to vote. Racist!

  42. The science is simple:

    Carter's books all suck.

    Reagan was very open about using ghostwriters.

    Bush I possessed a rapier wit, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who views literature as something slightly fruity and untrustworty. Ditto Bush II, minus the rapier wit.

    Clinton didn't have the discipline for any kind of careful book-writing effort, which is why his presidential memoir was a Baghavad Gita-length data dump (as are several of the other memoirs by the above).

    Obama's book has all the thought-tormented, admirable-but-dull, exquisitely self-regarding qualities that, as commenter ? notes, reek of the man himself.

    Jerry Ford's writing is pretty foursquare, but in his long career as the GOP's Mr. Reliable, he always put his best effort into every task. Nixon too. I never doubt that I'm reading Nixon when I'm reading Nixon.

    People who don't read presidents' books are only cheating themselves. They're automatically interesting, no matter how dull the president or the writing.

    I've only ghostwritten short stuff, but I know many ghostwriters, and the fact that a memoir captures the qualities of the subject is not evidence that the subject is the author. In fact the ghostwriter's job is often to take the subject's own writing and make it sound more like him or her. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, certainly among the top 10 American memoirs, is "told to" Alex Haley, but it captures the artist formerly known as Malcolm Little better than anything Malcolm wrote himself.

  43. So does this mean that Obama was born in Kenya with all the other ACORN socialists? After all, this is a blog post that links to a blog post that links to a blog post. If you can't believe what it says here, what can you believe?

  44. I never doubt that I'm reading Nixon when I'm reading Nixon.

    Didn't Hugh Hewitt ghost some of Nixon's books?

  45. If someone writes a book using extensive help from another, that person should be provided credit so the reader knows it. What makes me wonder is that some words are misspelled the same in stuff written by both authors, which is very unusual. And some of the stories on life situations are very similar to both authors in their respective books. No one will probably ever know what happened.

  46. It seems a little odd to me that police inspectors can't seem to get it right, bungling evidence, resorting to magic police dogs or using fraudulent doctors as experts. Yet a "literary detective" supposedly gets it right? Where has all the skepticism gone?

  47. Race defines everything now. Thankfully, Mr Pres. has downplayed them. I think he understands that even within his own party he better not step on racist toes.

    Just reporting what should be obvious to all.

  48. libertarians are the only people on earth who are not racist. We trust that everyone is capable of buying and selling in an open market. Racists will say that fellow humans cannot based on their skin color. libertarians call bullshit on such, well, bullshit.

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