Deep in Barack Obama’s recently released financial disclosure form, the one that lists the millions he has already made from his two books, “Dreams from My Father” and “Audacity of Hope,” is a telling attachment:
On Jan. 15, 2009 – five days before his inauguration – Barack Obama approved a $500,000 advance against royalties for an abridged version of “Dreams” for middle-grade and young adult readers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, would do the abridging, and Obama would only have to do the approving.
By the time this deal went down, however, Crown had to know of the allegations that Bill Ayers played a major role in the writing of “Dreams.”
I imagine Crown sought Obama’s reassurance that the allegations were false. If Crown did any independent investigating into those allegations, I am unaware of it, and I was the principle source of those allegations.
In September 2009, the impeccably credentialed celebrity biographer Christopher Andersen confirmed the allegations in his book, “Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage.”
According to Andersen’s Hyde Park sources, at “Michelle’s urging,” a “hopelessly blocked” Obama “sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers.”
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What attracted the Obamas were “Ayers’ proven abilities as a writer.” Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, Andersen elaborates, “These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers.”
Crown honchos had to be worried they had a Milli Vanilli moment on their hands, but happily for them, the scores of mainstream writers who reviewed Andersen’s book all chose not to notice its most newsworthy revelation.
In the two-plus years after the signing of the 2009 deal, new problems have emerged with “Dreams,” now in regard to its content. The most substantial revolve around Obama’s birth.
Indeed, even before the signing of the 2009 deal, the alternative conservative media had poked serious holes in the nativity story related in “Dreams.”
As Obama told it, his father, Barack Obama Sr., “left Hawaii back in 1963 when I was only 2 years old.” In September 2009, Obama repeated this canard to the nation’s schoolchildren.
“I get it,” he told the kids. “I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I was raised by a single mother.”
As is now confirmed beyond all doubt, Obama’s mother and father never lived together. The tales told at both the 2004 and 2008 Democratic Conventions of his parents’ “improbable love” and their “faith in the possibilities of this nation” were no more than useful fictions.
They were not incidental fictions. Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick calls these details “a reflection of a kind of multicultural ideal” and, ultimately, Obama’s “signature appeal.”
So what is an editor to do? Does he repeat the lie that Obama has been telling, or does he edit Obama’s “signature appeal” out of the abridged children’s book?
Worse, the manufactured origins story is just one fiction out of many. Indeed, Remnick casually describes “Dreams” as a “mixture of verifiable fact, recollection, recreation, invention and artful shaping.”
In his equally friendly book, “Reading Obama,” Harvard History Department Chairman James Kloppenberg says much the same. One does best to read “Dreams,” he argues, as a “text hovering in the turbulence between fiction and nonfiction.”
James Frey’s best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” hovered in much the same regions, but for some reason his “artful shaping” scandalized the media when revealed a few years back.
After being busted, Frey apologized in an editor’s note for fabricating parts of his book. “I wanted the stories in the book to ebb and flow, to have dramatic arcs, to have the tension that all great stories require,” he wrote.
Frey, at least, imposed his own dramatic arc. In January 2009, the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani described the arc of “Dreams” as one in which Obama “cast himself as both a Telemachus in search of his father and an Odysseus in search of a home.”
Three weeks earlier, I had made the identical observation with one critical difference: namely, that it was Ayers who imposed the Homeric structure on Obama’s mess of a manuscript.
In September 2006, Frey and publisher Random House reached a tentative legal settlement, the terms of which mandated refunds for readers who felt that they had been defrauded by Frey’s book.
In January 2009, that same publishing house signed a deal with Obama to defraud hundreds of thousands of new readers, little ones, likely with no choice in the matter but to be defrauded.
At some point, Bill Ayers has got to blow the whistle on this despotic bit of literary child abuse.