These include CBS News, USA Today, the Chicago Sun Times, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Chicago Tribune and the Telegraph of London.
This is not surprising. Andersen has written 28 books, including best-sellers on the Clintons, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Caroline Kennedy.
A former People magazine senior editor, he writes well, checks his facts thoroughly and appeals to the soft left center of the American media.
The headline of the USA Today review captures the message Andersen hoped to bring to the market: “A glowing ‘Portrait’ of the Obamas’ rock-solid marriage.”
Andersen, however, threw the reviewers one unexpected curve.
In a lengthy and detailed section on the Obama’s financial struggles in the early 1990s, Andersen relates how at the urging of Michelle, a “hopelessly blocked” Obama turned to “friend and neighbor” Bill Ayers to help him with his much acclaimed 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father.”
Andersen’s details are specific. The Obamas were convinced of “Ayers’ proven abilities as a writer.” Barack particularly liked the novelistic style of “To Teach,” a 1993 book by Ayers.
Obama hoped to use a comparable style for his own family history. The problem was that although he had taped interviews with many of his relatives, he could not find it in himself to write the book.
Andersen details Obama’s blown advances, his futile escape to Bali, the growing financial and emotional pressure to finish a memoir he had started four years earlier.
The key sentence in Andersen’s account is the one that follows: “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a truckload 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 Books.”
To a book reviewer or to a political editor, this revelation should matter hugely.
Throughout the 2008 campaign, Obama insisted that he barely knew Ayers. He was just some guy in the neighborhood. Obama was lying.
More troubling is that Obama allowed Ayers to crawl around inside his brain and define to the world who Obama is. Whatever Ayers was, he remains a small “c” communist and a sworn enemy of the “marauding monster” that is America.
“Dreams” is a politically calculated book, proof of which is the fact that Obama nowhere acknowledges Ayers’ help. Neighborhood radical Rashid Khalidi thanks Ayers for his help in the first sentence of the acknowledgments in his 2004 book, “Resurrecting Empire.” Khalidi had no plans to run for office.
Nor has Ayers gone away. Textual evidence strongly suggests that he was involved, though to a lesser degree, in Obama’s 2006 “Audacity of Hope.” Keeping this potentially damning “secret” gives Ayers significant leverage in his relationship with Obama.
For Obama’s literary acolytes, which seem to include every book reviewer in the English-speaking world, Andersen’s account throws one more devastating psychic punch: Obama is not the literary wunderkind he is cracked up to be.
“I’ve read Obama’s books, and they are first-rate,” wrote Christopher Buckley in his National Review swan song, “He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine.”
Buckley is in good company. In their reading of “Dreams,” the world’s literary gatekeepers, an influential subset of the Obama faithful, have convinced themselves that Obama is too smart, too sensitive, too skilled as a writer to need anyone’s assistance.
They believe this deeply enough to have built Obama’s foundational myth around his presumed genius.
“I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase,” said Nobel prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. “I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography.”
“He wrote it himself!” gushed British heavyweight Jonathan Raban in the Wall Street Journal. “Every sentence has its own graceful cadence! He could as easily be a novelist as a politician!” On the strength of “Dreams,” Raban calls Obama “the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln.”
Obama himself participated in this fiction. “I’ve written two books,” Obama told a crowd of teachers in Virginia during the campaign last year. “I actually wrote them myself.”
By October of 2008, I was fully convinced that Ayers not only helped Obama, but that he was also the principal author of “Dreams.” Obama is not a writer.
If the book reviewers wanted to assess the validity of Andersen’s sources, they could have checked the work I have done. I do not imagine any of them did.
I had not communicated with Andersen in any way before we talked on the Mancow Show on Monday of this week. Andersen confirmed that he had two sources “within Hyde Park.”
I would not be shocked if these sources were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
Ayers has every right to be peeved. To protect Obama’s reputation, critics have had to attack him. Consider the following, and this from Republican bigwig Ken Blackwell:
“Bill Ayers’ thoughts have all the leaden quality of most deadening Marxist screeds. Ayers’ writing you can’t pick up; Obama’s you can’t put down.”
In fact, Ayers writes very well indeed. His 2001 memoir, “Fugitive Days,” is a better book than “Dreams.” And he gets no credit for it.
When I wrote my book “Hoodwinked,” in which I detailed the 20th–century history of American intellectual fraud, I never expected to find myself at the center of the most consequential literary fraud of our time.
Had the truth about “Dreams” been shared widely during the 2008 campaign, Obama would never have been nominated, let alone elected.
Yet despite the impact of the fraud, despite Andersen’s revelations, despite the research that I and my merry band of conspirators have done, not one single mainstream reviewer so much as mentioned the “Dreams” controversy.
Here is hoping the “respectable” conservative media do a little better.