It turns out that the president may have taken an unnecessary hit with the revelation last week that the “Barack Obama” character in “Dreams from My Father,” his alleged memoir, ate dogs.
As explained in “Dreams,” Obama’s Muslim stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, introduced Obama to “dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy).”
Obama defenders quickly countered by insisting, accurately it seems, that Muslims don’t eat dogs. Apparently, Muhammad “prohibited eating (the meat of) every taloned bird and every predatory animal possessing canine teeth.” This, of course, would include dogs.
Among other pundits, John Hinderaker of Powerline offered the one synthesis that makes sense of these two competing ideas: “So Obama’s claim in his autobiography that he ate dog in Indonesia may well be false – an error introduced by Bill Ayers or whoever actually wrote Obama’s autobiography.”
Hinderaker added astutely, “But it is way too late now for Obama to disavow the autobiography that he allegedly wrote.”
In searching to see whether Ayers had done any dog eating in his colorful past, I stumbled upon the amusing find that “Dreams” is listed on Ayers’ Google Books page.
Despite a healthy interest in dogs – there are 20 distinct dog references in his 2001 memoir “Fugitive Days” – Ayers does not appear to have eaten any. He did, however, threaten “to burn a dog to death with napalm in protest of the war.”
Happily for his future, Ayers was just bluffing. His friends on the left have forgiven him a bombing career that killed at least four people, but they would not have forgiven a dog killer. Ask Michael Vick.
Ayers has justified his bombing career as a way to undermine what he saw as an even greater evil – the war in Vietnam. Ayers and his radical friends were obsessed with Vietnam. It defined them and still does.
This is why I think Hinderaker is right. Throughout “Dreams” one can hear Ayers’ vision of Vietnam being imposed on the post-Vietnam Obama, and that may well have come down to cuisine as well. Dogs were and still are a delicacy in Vietnam. Wikipedia cites the country as one of four where dog-eating rocks.
Dog-eating, in fact, seems to be one of any number of instances in “Dreams” in which Obama seems to be channeling the Vietcong wannabe, Bill Ayers.
For instance, to reflect their superior insight into that country, Ayers and pals have shown a tendency to use “Mekong Delta” as a synecdoche for Vietnam, the part that indicates the whole.
In “Fugitive Days,” Ayers envisions “a patrol in the Mekong Delta” when he conjures up an image of Vietnam. In a 1998 interview, Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, pontificated about “a hamlet called My Lai,” but to flash her radical chops, she located it “in the middle of the Mekong Delta.”
In reality, My Lai is several hundred miles from the Mekong Delta, but who’s counting?
Obama was 13 when Saigon fell, but that does not stop him from writing in “Dreams” about “the angry young men in Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta.” To say “Vietnam” would have sounded so very pedestrian.
Both Ayers and Obama link Indonesia with Vietnam. In each case, clueless officials – plural – with the “State Department” try to explain how the march of communism through “Indochina” – more insider jargon–will specifically imperil “Indonesia.”
The Ayers account, however, at least sounds vaguely real. The Obama account sounds like an Ayers memory chip slipped into the cranial software of Obama’s mother. She allegedly discussed geo-political strategy in Indonesia with her pre-teen son.
On the nature front, Obama discovered two “birds of paradise” running wild in his Indonesian backyard as well as chickens, ducks and a “yellow dog with a baleful howl.”
In “Fugitive Days,” there is even more “howling” than there is in “Dreams.” Ayers places his “birds of paradise” in Guatemala. He places his ducks and dogs together in a Vietnamese village being swept by merciless Americans.
In his book, “A Kind and Just Parent,” Ayers talks specifically about a “yellow dog.” And he uses the word “baleful” to describe an “eye” in “Fugitive Days.” For the record, “baleful” means “threatening harm.” I had to look it up.
More exotically still, both authors evoke images of a “boy” riding on the back of a “water buffalo” and prodding the beast not just with sticks, but with “bamboo sticks.” Ayers predictably places his boy in Vietnam. Obama puts his in Indonesia.
I know. None of this proves anything. I have heard that a thousand times. And I know that Ayers was “just kidding” when he claimed to have written “Dreams.”
Still, for those who have not seen the admission lately, it is worth another look, as captured by my New Jersey homies, Billy Baer and Dan Haggerty.
One more thing. In “Audacity of Hope,” Obama tells of his first visit to the home of his future in-laws, “All that was missing was the dog,” he laments.
Apparently, his reputation preceded him.