Thursday, October 29, 2009

Barack Obama, William Ayers, "Dreams Of My Father", and ghostwriters

During the unpleasantness of last November, there was considerable debate about Barack Obama's relationship with former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers.
Obama described him as "a guy who lives in my neighborhood".

Mr. Obama didn't mention that William Ayers helped write the Obama memoir, Dreams Of My Father.

The following is from “Barack And Michelle – Portrait Of An American Marriage”, by Christopher Andersen. 2009, William Morrow Publishing.
Perhaps Andersen made all this up. Perhaps William Morrow's fact-checking department fell down on the job.
But if it's true, it would explain a lot about the direction of the last 9 months, wouldn't it? If someone wanted to destroy capitalism and the free market, could anyone improve on what we're now going through?
Indulge me here....
Here's the complete controversial text, from "Barack and Michelle" by Christopher Andersen, pages 164-166.


"Desperate to finish the book, Barack and Michelle took a leave of absence from their jobs and decamped to the Indonesian island of Bali so that, as his sister Maya put it, he could “find a peaceful sanctuary, where there were no phones, to work on the book.” When he returned in early 1994, Barack burrowed even deeper into the Hole (the office behind the Obama kitchen) in a last-gasp effort to finish it.
Two months later, with a September 1994 deadline looming, Barack was still stymied. It was around this time that, at Michelle’s urging, he sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor, Bill Ayers. Michelle had known Ayers’s wife, Bernadine Dohrn, at Sidley Austin, where Dohrn worked as a paralegal between 1984 and 1988. Dohrn’s father-in-law, former Commonwealth Edison CEO Thomas Ayers, just happened to be one of the firm’s most important clients."

One brief interruption. Like Fidel Castro, and like Che Guevara, Bill Ayers grew up very well-off, but wanted to rebel against the only system proven to make people well-off. Bill Ayers' father ran Commonwealth Edison. Sheesh.

"Barack got to know Bill Ayers’s father and his brother, John, when all three served on the Leadership Council of the Chicago Public Education Fun. Ajnother mutual friend of Ayers and Barack was Jean Rudd, whose nonprofit Woods Fund had provided Jerry Kellman with the money he needed to hire Barack as an organizer back in 1985.
Neither Michelle nor Barack seemed particularly troubled to discover that William Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn had been two of the 1960s’ most infamous radicals – leaders of the Weather Underground terrorist group that set off thirty bombs in the 1960s and 1970s.





After an explosion in the Weathermen’s Greenwich Village bomb-making laboratory killed three of their fellow Weathermen (including Ayers’s girlfriend at the time, Diana Oughton) and virtually destroyed the neighboring town house owned by Dustin Hoffman, Ayers and Dohrn went underground. In 1973 charges against them were dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct, but Dohrn remained a fugitive until she finally turned herself in to police in 1980.
Ayers made no apologies for his terrorist past, and in the 1990’s still described himself as “a radical, Leftist, small ‘c’ communist….The ethics of communism still appeal to me. I don’t like Lenin as much as the early Marx.”

I love that phrase. "The ethics of communism". Communism killed somewhere between 60 and 100 million people. They made the Nazis look like amateurs. But their intentions were so good and wholesome.





Ayers’s radical past didn’t seem to bother Chicago’s civic leaders, many of whom worked with him on education reform. He worked particularly closely with Mayor Richard M. Daley on reshaping the city’s school programs – an effort that also brought him into contact with one of Daley’s assistants at the time, Michelle Obama.
What did interest Barack were Ayers’s proven abilities as a writer. Unlike Barack, Ayers had written and cowritten scores of articles and treatises, as well as several nonfiction books beginning with Education: An American Problem in 1968. But it was the tone Ayers had set in his latest book – To Teach (1993) – that Barack hoped to emulate.
The tale of a maverick teacher who takes her students onto the streets of New York to teach them firsthand about history, culture, and survival, To Teach was written in a fluid, novelistic style. Barack asked for Ayers’s input, and Ayers, who like so many in his circle was greatly impressed by the charismatic young activist, obliged.
To flesh out his family history, Barack had also taped interviews with Toot, Gramps, Ann, Maya, and his Kenyan relatives. These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes, were given to Ayers. “Everyone knew they were friends and that they worked on various projects together,” another Hyde Park neighbor pointed out. “It was no secret. Why would it be? People liked them both.”

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 writings. Even the caveat at the beginning of Dreams, in which Barack points out that he uses invented dialogue, embellished facts, composite characters, inaccurate chronology, and pseudonyms to create an “approximation” of reality, resembles Ayers’s defense of the inaccuracies in his memoir Fugitive Days. In the foreward to his book, Ayers states that the book is merely a collection of his personal memories and “impressions.”

In other words, don't bother fact-checking either book. Like the other products produced by these two, the books are bullshit.

“There was a good deal of literary back-scratching going on in Hyde Park,” said writer Jack Cashill, who noted that a mutual friend of Barack and Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, thanked Ayers for helping him with his book Resurrecting Empire. Ayers, explained Cashill, “provided an informal editing service for like-minded friends in the neighborhood.”
Certainly none of these authors hesitated to acknowledge their admiration for one another at the time. In his 1997 book, A Kind And Just Parent, Ayers would cite the “writer” Barack Obama (along with Muhammad Ali and Louis Farrakhan) as one of the celebrities living in his neighborhood. In turn, Barack would write a glowing review of that same book for the Chicago Tribune, and Michelle would host a panel discussion on the book at the University of Chicago, with Ayers and her husband as the principal speakers.
Thanks to help from the veteran writer Ayers, Barack would be able to submit a manuscript to his editors at Times Books. With some minor cuts and polishing, the book would be on track for publication in the early summer of 1995. In the meantime, he began showing the rough draft to a chosen few relatives.

From the dust jacket of "Barack and Michelle": Christopher Andersen is the critically acclaimed author of twenty-eight books, which have been translated into more than twenty-five languages worldwide. A former contributing editor of Time magazine and senior editor of People magazine, Andersen has also written hundreds of articles for a wide range of publications, including Life magazine, the New York Times, and Vanity Fair.

2 comments:

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Inspires, the following Weird Al moment:

A little ditty
About Barry and Michelle.
Went to all the Ivies,
Except for Brown and Yale.

Barry's gonna be a politics star.
Michelle's gonna make the money
after the passing the bar.

(interlude)

Barry sits back collects his thoughts for his memoir,
Scratches his head and calls his bud, Will Ayers.
"Says, hey man, Billy A, I'm stuck for some content."
Billy says "Barry, you're just missing one thing!"

"Let it rock! When the bombs blow!
Yet the Bible Belt won't erase your votes!
Stay a Weatherman just as long as you can....
Changes coming so you can rule with an iron hand.."

Little Ditty - about Barry and Michelle...
Two American kids sending our economy to hell.

Thank you. I'm here all week.

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