On “The Sean Hannity Show” Friday night and at a Florida tea-party rally Saturday, Donald Trump elaborated on the charge that he has been making the past two weeks, namely that Bill Ayers helped write Barack Obama’s acclaimed 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father.”
Yet despite what Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick had previously called the “diabolical potency” of the charge, the mainstream media have resolutely failed to investigate its accuracy.
Trump all but dares them. At both stops, he emphasized the point that I make in “Deconstructing Obama”: As Trump put it to Hannity, “Without that book, [Obama] is not president.”
“Dreams” was essential to Obama’s ascendancy as “Profiles in Courage” was to John F. Kennedy’s. It served as the foundation of the genius myth on which Obama’s campaign was based.
“[Obama's] whole aura was caused by the genius of the first book,” Trump said accurately on Saturday, “which was written by Bill Ayers.”
Trump also told Hannity that “the guy who wrote the first book didn’t write the second book ['Audacity of Hope'].”
This is a point that Ayers had himself implied a few weeks back at Montclair State University when he praised “Dreams” – and claimed credit for writing it, albeit with a wink – but dismissed “Audacity” as a “political hack book.”
This would not be the first time that a would-be president secured the White House through literary fraud. Kennedy was also accused, and with good reason, of using a ghostwriter for his 1956 book, “Profiles in Courage.”
After “Profiles” won the Pulitzer Prize, prominent muckraker Drew Pearson accused Kennedy of using a ghostwriter, and he did so publicly on Mike Wallace’s ABC-TV show.
Understanding full well what a “fraud” label would do to JFK’s ambitions, the Kennedys used family retainer Ted Sorensen to force a retraction from Pearson and Wallace.
Under oath, Sorensen would testify, “I did not write the book for Sen. Kennedy.” Years later, however, Sorensen would admit what he had been leaking all along, namely that he “did a first draft of most chapters.”
Had the presumed collaborator been a figure of comparable disrepute to Bill Ayers – say, Alger Hiss – Sorensen’s prevarications could not have dampened what would have been a media firestorm.
Say what one will about Ayers, he has more integrity and independence of spirit than Sorensen.
Fortunately for Obama, the media of 2011 are unlikely to ask him or Ayers about the authorship of “Dreams.”
Alas, they do not have anywhere near the integrity and independence of spirit of their predecessors.