An article appeared last week in CounterPunch, a respected left-leaning journal, that dared to point out the obvious about Barack Obama’s literary talents.
Written by Matthew Stevenson, a Harper’s contributing editor, “Obama’s Book Deal; The $60 Million Selfie,” was the first centrist or left-of-center article to endorse my thesis that Barack Obama did not write in any meaningful way the books that gained him the reputation as a literary genius.
It took nearly nine years for this to happen. I first advanced this thesis in these pages on July 31, 2008. “In writing [‘Dreams from My Father’] Obama had more than help, much more. The real question is where that help came from and why.”
“The book was not published until 1995,” I continued, “the same year the unrepentant Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers helped launch Obama’s political career. Someone intervened, possibly the publisher.”
At the time, I had no idea that Ayers was a skilled writer and editor. That insight would come later. I first shared my thoughts on this subject in WND on Sept. 18, 2008.
“Ayers had the means, the motive, the time, the place and the literary ability to jumpstart Obama’s career,” I wrote. “And, as Ayers had to know, a lovely memoir under Obama’s belt made for a much better resume than an unfulfilled contract over his head.”
This article was the first in a three-part series. Other people, I learned, had the same suspicion and began sending me textual analyses that confirmed my speculation.
On Oct. 10 – four weeks before the election – Rush Limbaugh talked about my thesis on air. “This was a charge,” wrote Obama biographer David Remnick, “that if ever proved true, or believed to be true among enough voters, could have been the end of the candidacy.”
I knew the major media would not touch this story, but I expected some help from the right. I did not get it. After much back and forth, Human Events punted on my research. The National Review did too. The Fox producers downstairs showed interest, but the suits upstairs did not.
The managing editor of the Weekly Standard referred me to the magazine’s literary editor, whose response echoed the others: “An interesting piece, but I’m rather oversubscribed at the moment, the length is considerable, and cutting would not do it justice.”
The unfortunate truth is that the respectable right-wing media allowed Obama to win – twice. Fearful of being called racist, they rolled over.
Worse, after the election, they turned on people like me. In February 2009, for instance, James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s online editorial page, singled me out by name as among those conservatives who “engaged in irresponsible rumor-mongering and conspiracy-theorizing.”
The left was harsher in its judgment. In his 2010 Obama biography, Remnick called Limbaugh out for his “racist insinuation” and concluded that our collective “libel about Obama’s memoir – the denial of literacy, the denial of authorship – had a particularly ugly pedigree.”
Times are changing. On Feb. 23 of this year, American Spectator editor Emmett Tyrrell wrote a piece in my defense.
“Cashill’s point, and [Christopher] Andersen’s and mine, is that ‘Dreams’ was almost certainly not written exclusively by Obama,” wrote Tyrrell.
“For a publisher to claim that it was is to commit fraud. To claim that Obama alone is going to write a book on the order of Grant’s memoirs is fraudulent and a horselaugh.”
After eight years, this was the first public endorsement of my thesis in an establishment conservative publication. Stevenson’s endorsement was even more surprising. The reported $60 million book deal Obama signed with Penguin Random House caught his attention.
“Much of the Obama mythology is built around the immaculate conception of his first book, ‘Dreams from My Father,'” writes Stevenson.
He adds, “I regret that only right-wing conspiracists have embraced the theories that challenge Obama’s authorship of ‘Dreams,’ at least the published version, because there is much that should be discussed.”
“Because Cashill’s work has mostly appeared in conservative publications and on alt websites, he’s dismissed as a birther,” Stevenson continues. “But just for his textual analysis of Obama’s prose he deserves commendation.”
“What do I think?” Stevenson concludes. “Whether Obama turned to Ayers or someone else, I don’t know. I do presume that Obama pulled together family notes and interviewed relatives. But I cannot imagine that he wrote the final draft.”
The dike has sprung a leak. Obama still has a lot of friends who can plug it, but he no longer has the power to keep all his friends in line.
He has an anxious year of “writing” in front of him.
Media wishing to interview Jack Cashill, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.