Author Jack Cashill has been called a lunatic, and worse, for his belief that unrepentant 1960s revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers was the primary writer of the book offered as evidence that Barack Obama is an intellectual heavyweight worthy of the Oval Office despite his relatively thin resume.
When Cashill, after careful literary analysis, first posed the potentially election-changing theory in 2008, Obama was deflecting questions about his substantial working relationship with the former Weather Underground leader, dismissing Ayers as merely a fellow resident of his upscale Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago.
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But what if Ayers – whose radical movement sought to overthrow the U.S. government and replace it with a communist regime – was not only more than "just a guy in the neighborhood" but also the philosophical heart and soul, as well as the talent, behind the biography that launched his political career?
Ayers, after all, who served together in the leadership of education projects with radical aims, has admitted to hosting Obama's first political fundraiser the same year "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" was published, 1995.
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When asked on several occasions over the past five years if he wrote "Dreams from My Father," Ayers has not denied it, but instead has resorted to irony, telling inquirers in essence, Yes, I did, and if you can help me prove it, I'll split the royalties with you.
It happened again in a video interview June 19 with Real Clear Politics Executive Editor Tom Bevan and Charlie Stone.
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Commuting with Bill
In a clip of the interview – titled "Joke or Not? Ayers says he wrote 'Dreams'" – Bevan poses the question as he and Stone drive with Ayers on the streets of Chicago, a trademark of RCP's "Morning Commute" series.
"Did you write 'Dreams from My Father?'"
"Yes. I wrote that," Ayers replied. "I've written many books for many Hyde Parkers, but that one I wrote. And it didn't take long. I had a few interviews, and then I wrote it up. It took me about four months."
Apparently alluding to Cashill's comparative analysis, Ayers said, "And, I love the nautical imagery, which I also use in 'Fugitive Days.'"
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"Now, if you guys can help me prove this," he said, smiling and eliciting laughter from his interviewers, "I'll split the royalties with you. ... I haven't gotten a nickel from my effort."
Without mentioning Cashill's name, Ayers then referred to "a book comparing phrases from 'Dreams from My Father.'"
"So, he's proven it, kind of," Ayers said of Cashill. "But I'm still not getting any royalty checks."
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Cashill, after watching the clip, told WND that in each response to the authorship question over the past five years, Ayers "adds new information and eases off on the irony."
Cashill noted that in the most recent interview, Ayers gives his writing work with Obama a time frame, four months, that sounds reasonable.
"He also talks about other Hyde Park authors and, in fact, local radical Rashid Khalidi gave Ayers top billing in the acknowledgment section of his book 'Resurrecting Empire,'" Cashill pointed out.
Ayers, he said, "enjoys the game, I suspect, more than Obama does."
Cashill has said he believes Ayers, with a sharp intellect, has been "careful to couch his comments with irony."
In a 2011 interview, Cashill said he believed Ayers's irony was not aimed at critics like Cashill but at the White House, "letting Obama know that he could blow Obama out of the water, if he gets serious about it."
Cashill noted Ayers is very anti-war and at odds with many of Obama's policies.
"All Ayers would have to do is give a press conference in which he demonstrated he was the principle craftsman behind 'Dreams' and the whole myth of Obama's literary genius would come crashing down," Cashill said.
Obama-friendly offer confirms
When Cashill took note of Ayers' irony-laced declaration of authorship after a 2011 speech, Gawker writer Jim Newell mocked "lunatic Jack Cashill, who has spent a significant chunk of his human life trying to prove that a former domestic terrorist wrote Barack Obama's book in the mid-1990s."
But Obama-friendly celebrity author Christopher Anderson has taken Cashill's extensive research further, stating in his 2009 book "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage," that a desperate Obama in the mid-1990s, facing a second canceled book contract, sought the help of Ayers.
"In the end, Ayers contribution to Barack's "Dreams from My Father" would be significant," Anderson wrote on page 165 of "Barack and Michelle," "so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers' own writings."
Anderson credited Ayers with providing the assistance Obama needed to complete his unfinished autobiography.
"Thanks to help from the veteran writer Ayers, Barack Obama would be able to submit a manuscript to his editors at Times Brooks," Anderson continued on page 166. "With some minor cuts and polishing, the book would be on track for publication in the early summer of 1995."
Andersen relied on inside sources, quite possibly Michelle Obama, to describe how "Dreams" was published, Cashill said after Andersen's book was published.
Andersen cites Cashill as a source, but Cashill points out that Andersen "clearly has access to inside information that I did not have."
"His level of detail on the mechanics of the transmission goes beyond anything that I could have discovered on my own," Cashill said.
Scores of major media organs reviewed Andersen’s book, including CBS News, USA Today, the Chicago Sun Times, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Chicago Tribune and the Telegraph of London. Yet none mentioned the author’s detailed narrative about Ayers’ collaboration with his neighbor Obama.
Obama's book won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album and drew praise from Time magazine, which called it "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."
Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground terrorist group that sought to overthrow the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971. His wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was suspected of planting a bomb in a San Francisco police station that killed one officer. The pair emerged from more than a decade underground in 1980. Dohrn, once on the FBI's most wanted list, was fined $1,500 and served three years probation. Ayers was never convicted of anything.
In 1995, a year before “Dreams” was published, Obama became chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization Ayers helped establish. Obama also served on the board of the liberal non-profit Woods Fund alongside Ayers from 1999 to 2002, according to the Fund’s website.
Also in 1995, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state senatorial campaign was held at Ayers’ home. Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s senatorial campaign fund and served on panels with Obama at numerous public speaking engagements.
The two appeared together as speakers at several public events, including a 1997 University of Chicago panel titled “Should a child ever be called a ‘super predator?’” and another panel for the University of Illinois in April 2002 titled “Intellectuals: Who Needs Them?”
Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has admitted to involvement in the bombing of U.S. government buildings in the 1970s as a member of the Weathermen.
“I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough,” Ayers told the New York Times in an interview released Sept. 11, 2001.
“Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon,” Ayers wrote in his memoir “Fugitive Days.” Ayers lived for 10 years as a fugitive from the law, but charges were dropped in 1974 due to prosecutorial misconduct.
While many defenders of Ayers and his Weatherman colleagues have sought to minimize the bomb attacks because they purportedly did not target people, a former FBI informant who penetrated the group claimed he witnessed a meeting in which members discussed a future communist takeover of America in which some 25 million “diehard capitalists” would need to be killed.
As WND reported, in a Q&A after a speech sponsored by the Students for a Democratic Society at Montclair State University in New Jersey, Ayers volunteered that he was the ghostwriter of "Dreams" then finished with his usual "split the royalties" joke.
In 2009, WND reported Ayers gave a similar ironic answer to a National Journal reporter who posed the question at a book conference.
Ayers declared to the National Journal reporter, "Yes, I wrote 'Dreams from My Father.'"
"Here's what I'm going to say," Ayers said, according to a report in Talking Points Memo. "This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: 'Yes, I wrote 'Dreams from My Father.' I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book."
TPM reported that Ayers then released the National Journal reporter's arm, beamed "in Marxist triumph," and said, "And now I would like the royalties."
In an encounter at Reagan National Airport in October 2009 with conservative blogger Anne Leary, who did not even ask the question, Ayers declared, "Yes, I wrote 'Dreams from My Father' ... Michelle [Obama] asked me to."
Leary said she was sipping coffee by the United Airlines counter before going through security when she saw Ayers:
"Then, unprompted he [Ayers] said – I wrote 'Dreams From My Father.' I said, oh, so you admit it. He said – Michelle asked me to. I looked at him. He seemed eager. He's about my height, short. He went on to say – and if you can prove it, we can split the royalties. So I said, stop pulling my leg. Horrible thought. But he came again – I really wrote it, the wording was similar. I said I believe you probably heavily edited it. He said – I wrote it. I said – why would I believe you, you're a liar.
"He had no answer to that. Just looked at me and walked off, and said again his bit about my proving it and splitting the proceeds."
Previously, in May 2009, a Washington Times online editor posed the authorship question at a Baltimore book-signing.
In the encounter, which was captured on video, the Times' Kerry Picket asked Ayers if he had received any feedback from Obama on Ayers' latest book, "Race Course: Against White Supremacy."
Ayers asked rhetorically, "Why would I?"
Picket then asked, "Considering that you may have had a collaboration with 'Dreams of My Father.'"
Ayers' body language changed abruptly. Turning away from Picket, he replied curtly, "I never had a collaboration, no."
"No?" she persisted.
"That's a myth," said Ayers, ending the conversation.
In an interview with the Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity in 2009, the Barack-Michelle biographer Andersen was asked to comment on his assertion that Ayers helped Obama write "Dreams." Hannity pointed to Andersen's observation that "the literary devices and themes" of the book "bear a jarring similarity to Ayers' own writings."
"They were good friends," Andersen affirmed, recalling that during the campaign Obama denied that fact.
"There was a literary cabal there in Chicago," Andersen continued. "They were all giving each other quotes, blurbs to promote their respective books."
Hannity concluded rhetorically: "So (Obama) lied to the American people."
Andersen appeared hesitant to concur but conceded, "Well, you know, I think, well, let's face it, during that campaign I think he was doing some backpedaling, I'll be honest. And I think that, you know, Michelle probably recommended that he not emphasize the relationship with Ayers."
In dozens of columns, summarized here, Cashill has offered evidence that Ayers shaped and refined the book with his exceptional writing skill and radical ideas.
Cashill has pointed out that in contrast to "Dreams," the Obama writing samples unearthed before 1995 "are pedestrian and uninspired."
"There is no precedent for this kind of literary transformation," Cashill writes. "It is as if a high 90s golfer suddenly showed up with his PGA card – with no known practice rounds in between."
The evidence Cashill had gathered to that point, he said, "severely tests Obama's claim of a superficial relationship with the self-declared 'communist' Ayers. This appears to be a conscious and consequential deception."
In the months before the November 2008 election, Cashill commissioned an independent scientific comparative analysis of writings by Obama and Ayers to determine whether Ayers had a significant role in the writing of "Dreams."
Cashill reported at least four different stylometric analysts supported his extensive forensic evidence.
His experts included university professors from the U.S. and England in the statistical analysis of authorship, systems engineers, writers and Ph.D. literary analysts. Most, particularly professors at public universities, asked that their names not be revealed.
One analyst said it was possible Ayers served as a "book doctor," drastically rewriting work Obama already had done.
Cashill conjectures that exposure of Ayers' alleged part in Obama's book in 2008 would have changed the outcome of the election.
He recalls that Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," mocked the Republicans' 2008 vice presidential candidate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for needing a collaborator for her book, because "she can't write."
Cashill wrote in a column that as "the Obama-Milli Vanilli story unfolds, Matthews and those willfully blind souls like him are in for a shock."
"To admit that Obama needed a collaborator would have undercut his campaign for president," Cashill says, "and to reveal the name of that collaborator would have ended it."