Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A question of credentials

Your papers, please

The right-wing world has no intention of reconciling itself to the reality of an Obama presidency. Its denizens try to take some comfort in the wacky notion that perhaps Sen. Obama's victory was based on millions of votes by illegal aliens and election fraud by ACORN, but the Democratic victory was broad enough to make that argument less than entirely persuasive. We diehard Democrats had much more success nursing a feeling of resentment (“We wuz robbed!”) over the shenanigans in Florida in 2000 (the year our guy actually won the national popular vote).

The irreconcilables are now obsessed with the possibility (however vanishingly small) of somehow denying Obama the presidency by some last-minute legal maneuver. (“He's not an American citizen!” “He lost his citizenship when he moved to Indonesia!”) In some of these fevered dreams, they dimly perceive scenarios in which John McCain pulls out an upset victory in the Electoral College.

These people really need their water tested for hallucinogens.

The mainstream media, of course, pay these folks no mind, unless they need some filler for the corner where they relegate the wacky news of the day. Just for fun. To publicize wingnut conspiracy theories you need something like KSFO in San Francisco, which would never be mistaken for anything in the mainstream. Although it's owned by ABC Radio (and thus belongs to Disney), KSFO prefers to teeter on the ragged edge of the flat earth, ever on the verge of toppling into the dark abyss. A good example was afforded on its morning drive-time program on Monday, when Brian Sussman cheerfully hosted conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill.

Cashill is a writer whose books have treated such matters as the death of Ron Brown during the Clinton administration (plane crash? no! assassination!), the TWA Flight 800 disaster (fuel tank explosion? no! missile strike!), and 9/11 (Bush administration neglect of explicit terror warnings? no! Bill Clinton's fault!). He also seems to have some connection with intelligent design creationism, since his webpage features a DVD titled The Triumph of Design and the Demise of Darwin. He's obviously the complete package.

Cashill was on KSFO to tout his “research” into the supposed controversy over the authorship of Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from my Father. The book, you see, is too well-written to permit of Obama's authorship. Its high literary quality argues for a talented ghostwriter hiding behind the scenes. Obama, after all, is quite lacking in writerly credentials. How could we expect well-crafted prose from someone whose curriculum vitae is loaded up with such weak qualifications as enrollment in Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School (magna cum laude and the presidency of the Harvard Law Review)? Besides, known samples of writing from his youth do not match the sophistication of the prose in Dreams from my Father.

Why, it's amazing he can even string a sentence together.

It's a given, therefore, that Barack Obama could not possibly have written so skillfully executed a book as Dreams from my Father. It's the sort of book that only a clever white man could have written. Oops! That could be taken as racist, couldn't it? Good thing that no one on the KSFO broadcast said that aloud. Besides, it's simply an empirical fact that Obama lacks credentials as a writer, see? That's what they want us to believe and that's what they base their argument on. And they did conclude that a clever white man was involved.
Cashill: In July of '08, Brian, someone sent me a bunch of excerpts from Obama's 1995 memoir, Dreams from my Father, and they said, “Are these as radical as they sound?” And so I located them on-line in a larger context and I emailed them back and I said, “No, they're really not. They're really taken out of context. This is a very careful book. There's nothing in that book that would stop a black Democrat from winning the White House.”

But, what I noticed, is there was much too well written. And I was suprrised that no one else had noticed this. So I went online and started looking up “obama ghostwriter,” “obama ghostwritten.” This isn't shocking, you know, this person has a ghostwriter. John McCain had a ghostwriter for his book, Faith of our Fathers. But all I could find was sentences like this: “Unlike John McCain, unlike George Bush, Obama's brilliant. He doesn't need a ghostwriter. He wrote this brilliant book by himself.” And I'm seeing this by literary lions, you know, like Toni Morrison and Time magazine, the New York Times, and they're building his foundational myth on his brilliance based on Dreams from my Father.

So I started doing just a little scouting around and to see if I could just match some on-line connections. Just let me give you a phrase, for instance: “ragged laughter.” You know, that's a phrase that Obama used. And it's a poetic phrase. A writer uses that phrase, not some politician, you know what I mean?

Sussman: You've mentioned that his writing is very stylistic.

Cashill: Oh, it's very well done. I mean, it's the work of a professional writer. And so I went on-line trying to find a match. I really couldn't make any headway and I let it drop. And then about six weeks later, now we're into September, I was just trying to do a little research on timelines on when Obama might have been in New York and whether he knew Edward Said or Bill Ayres. So I got Ayres' book, Fugitive Days, his 2001 memoir. This is the guy who put the word “unrepentant” into our everyday vocabulary. A quarter of the way into the book, I said, boy, this guy writes well. I mean, he really does. And then I said, you know, he writes just like Obama does. And then I started tracking connections.

At first I thought, maybe they have the same ghostwriter. But the more I read Ayres' book and the more I read about Ayres and his other books, he really is a skilled writer and editor. He serves as something as the literary doctor for his neighborhood. I mean, their fellow traveler, Rashid Khalidi, another radical in the Hyde Park neighborhood, you know, in the first sentence of his acknowledgments, says, “I couldn't have written this book without the help of Bill Ayres.”
It would be rather easy to dismiss the arguments of Jack Cashill as the rantings of a lone conspiracy nut, but it's not as simple as that. Just as Cashill thinks that Obama had better-qualified help writing his memoirs, Cashill himself had help digging into the president-elect's literary endeavors. He explained to Sussman how others had come to his aid and put their highly trained skills at his disposal.
Cashill: And then I started doing more and more research into it. Then I started to get people sending me [stuff], you know, started joining in once I started writing about this. I have about a dozen good correspondents. My single best correspondent—he doesn't want his name used—after a while I said, “Tell me what your credentials are so that I can at least talk about your credentials.” And he says, “Well, they're not going to help you much. I'm a father of three. I own a small construction company in Kearney, Nebraska.” This guy, I thought he was a university professor. He was brilliant in analyses of various parts of the thing.

So I have reached a point, a long time ago, two months ago, where I will say flat out that Bill Ayres helped Barack Obama write his book—in fact, provided all the good parts in that book.
It's hard to dispute that powerful conclusion. After all, it was reached with the assistance of a licensed contractor from Nebraska. Someone who can competently supervise construction projects is exactly the sort of person you want to help you with literary deconstruction. Credentials, man!


llewelly said...

This guy is so wrong. For starters - Obama never went to Indonesia. How do we know that? Simple. The Earth is flat. Indonesia is a hoax. Instead, Obama travelled to the underside of the Earth, where the Lizard People live. That, after all, is where his mother is from. And so we know Obama didn't need a 'ghostwriter', because the Lizard People are natural geniuses.

William said...

Cashill's irony meter is clearly in need of repair.

dance said...

A google for "ragged laughter" (which I have certainly heard before and might consider something of a cliche, not that poetic) is interesting.

Anonymous said...

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associate degree nursing schools

SWE said...

I started reading this entry because the content looked interesting, but now can not stop looking at the tinfoil hat picture. Clearly, I must acquire a cat so that I can make beautiful hats to annoy it. The photo is a work of sheer genius.

Interestingly, I have yet to start a career in anything based on a spam comment on a blog.

Anonymous said...

I feel strangely compelld to obtain an associate degree in nursing. I wonder where I could go to get one?

Sili said...

Don't we all, Hans? Don't we all?

Too bad it's impossible to find anywhere to study for such a degree.

I too love how annoyed that poor cat looks: "Look! This is what I have to go through to get fed!"

I'll admit to not knowing much about the rules of succession, but if Obama is declared inelligable, wouldn't the presidency transfer to Biden?

William said...

OK, I finally went to his site. This is interesting:

"In addition to his work with Ingram’s, Jack has written for Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, and regularly for WorldNetDaily."

I can only assume they're counting letters to the editor.

Alan B. said...

"I'll admit to not knowing much about the rules of succession, but if Obama is declared inelligable, wouldn't the presidency transfer to Biden?"

As near as I can tell, the wingnuts seem to think that if Obama is declared ineligible before the electoral college meets, some other outcome is possible, but I have yet to figure out what that is. Maybe the election will be declared a do-over or some such.