Was Bill Ayers was Obama’s Co-Writer for “Dreams”?

From Jack Cashill at American Thinker:

Evidence continues to mount that Barack Obama had substantial help from Bill Ayers in the creation of his 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, a book that Time Magazine has called “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.” The evidence falls into five general categories, here summarized.

The discovery of new matching nautical metaphors from both Ayers and Obama that almost assuredly came from the same source: Ayers, a former merchant seaman.
The discovery of a Bill Ayers’ essay on memoir writing, whose postmodern themes and phrases are echoed throughout Dreams.
A newly discovered book chapter from 1990 that shows clearly and painfully the limits of Obama’s prose style the year he received a contract to write Dreams.

……A 1990 New York Times profile on Obama’s election as the Harvard Law Review’s first black president in 1990 caught the eye of agent Jane Dystel. She persuaded Poseidon, a small imprint of Simon & Schuster, to authorize a roughly $125,000 advance for Obama’s proposed memoir.

……Ayers published his book To Teach in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996, he had no other formal authorial assignment than to co-edit a collection of essays. This was an unusual hole in his very busy publishing career.

Obama’s memoir was published in June 1995. Earlier that year, Ayers helped Obama, then a junior lawyer at a minor law firm, get appointed chairman of the multi-million dollar Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant. In the fall of that same year, 1995, Ayers and his wife, Weatherwoman Bernardine Dohrn, helped blaze Obama’s path to political power with a fundraiser in their Chicago home.

……There is an element of speculation in this, but new evidence continues to narrow the gap between the speculative and the conclusive. One clue comes from an unexpected source, Rashid Khalidi, the radical Arab-American friend of Obama’s and reputed ally of the PLO.

In the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, Khalidi writes of Ayers,
“Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family’s dining room table to do some writing for the project.” Khalidi did not need the table. He had one of his own. He needed the help.

Khalidi had spent several years at Chicago University’s Center for International Studies. At a 2003 farewell dinner on the occasion of his departure from Chicago, Obama toasted him, thanking him and his wife for the many dinners that they had shared as well as for his “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.”

Chicago’s Hyde Park was home to a tight, influential radical community at whose center were Ayers and Dohrn. In this world, the Ayers’ terrorist rap sheet only heightened their reputation. Obama had to know. The couple had given up revolution in 1980 for the long slow march through the institutions. By 1994, if not earlier, Ayers saw a way to quicken that march.

……Bill Ayers’ 2001 memoir Fugitive Days and Obama’s Dreams From My Father follow oddly similar rules. Ayers describes his as “a memory book,” one that deliberately blurs facts and changes identities and makes no claims at history. Obama says much the same. In Dreams, some characters are composites. Some appear out of precise chronology. Names have been changed.

Dreams and Fugitive Days are both suffused with repeated reference to lies, lying and what Ayers calls “our constructed reality.” A serious student of literature, Ayers has written thoughtfully on the role of the first person narrator in the construction of a memoir.

In true postmodernist fashion, he rejects the possibility of an objective, universal truth. He argues instead that our lives are journeys, whose “narratives” we “construct” and, if we have the will and the power, impose on others.

Curiously, Obama says much the same in Dreams and in much the same language. “But another part of me knew that what I was telling them was a lie,” writes Obama, “something I’d constructed from the scraps of information I’d picked up from my mother.”

The evidence strongly suggests that Ayers transformed the stumbling literalist of “Why Organize” into the sophisticated postmodernist of Dreams, and he did not so not by tutoring Obama, but by rewriting his text.

The Ayers’ quotes that follow come from an essay of his, “Narrative Push/Narrative Pull.” The Obama quotes come from Dreams:

Ayers:

“The hallmark of writing in the first person is intimacy. . . . But in narrative the universal is revealed through the specific, the general through the particular, the essence through the unique, and necessity is revealed through contingency.”

Obama:

“And so what was a more interior, intimate effort on my part, to understand this struggle and to find my place in it, has converged with a broader public debate, a debate in which I am professionally engaged . . . ”

Ayers:

“Narrative begins with something to say-content precedes form.”

Obama:

“I understood that I had spent much of my life trying to rewrite these stories, plugging up holes in the narrative . . . ”

Ayers:

“Narrative inquiry can be a useful corrective to all this.”

Obama:

“Truth is usually the best corrective.”

Ayers:

“The mind works in contradiction, and honesty requires the writer to reveal disputes with herself on the page.”

Obama:

“Not because that past is particularly painful or perverse but because it speaks to those aspects of myself that resist conscious choice and that–on the surface, at least–contradict the world I now occupy.”

Ayers:

The reader must actually see the struggle. It’s a journey, not by a tourist, but by a pilgrim.

Obama:

“But all in all it was an intellectual journey that I imagined for myself, complete with maps and restpoints and a strict itinerary.”

Ayers:

“Narrative writers strive for a personal signature, but must be aware that the struggle for honesty is constant.”

Obama:

“I was engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America.”

Ayers:

“But that intimacy can trap a writer into a defensive crouch, into airing grievances or self-justification.”

Obama:

“At best, these things were a refuge; at worst, a trap.”

Although I cite one example for each, Dreams offers many more. There are ten “trap” references alone and nearly as many for “narrative,” “struggle,” and “journey.” To be sure, there are other postmodernists in Chicago, but few who write as stylishly and as intelligibly as Ayers and fewer who make their dining room tables available to would-be authors of a leftist bent.

……A newly discovered anecdote from Bill Ayers’ 1993 book, To Teach, solidifies the case that he is indeed the muse behind Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father.

In the book, Ayers tells the story of an adventurous teacher who would take her students out to the streets of New York to learn interesting life lessons about the culture and history of the city. As Ayers tells it, the students were fascinated by the Hudson River nearby and asked to see it. When they got to the river’s edge, one student said, ” Look, the river is flowing up.” A second student said, “No, it has to flow south-down.”

Not knowing which was right, the teacher and the students did their research. What they discovered, writes Ayers, was “that the Hudson River is a tidal river, that it flows both north and south, and they had visited the exact spot where the tide stops its northward push.”

In his 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama shares a stunningly comparable anecdote about tidal rivers from his own brief New York sojourn. He tells of meeting with “Marty Kauffman” at a Lexington Avenue diner, the man from Chicago who was trying to recruit him as a community organizer.

After the meeting, Obama “took the long way home, along the East River promenade.” As “a long brown barge rolled through the gray waters toward the sea,” Obama sat down on a bench to consider his options. While sitting, he noticed a black woman and her young son against the railing. Overly fond of the too well remembered detail, Obama observes that “they stood side by side, his arm wrapped around her leg, a single silhouette against the twilight.”

The boy appeared to ask his mother a question that she could not answer and then approached Obama: “Excuse me, mister,” he shouted. “You know why sometimes the river runs that way and then sometimes it goes this way?”

“The woman smiled and shook her head, and I said it probably had to do with the tides.” Obama uses the seeming indecisiveness of this tidal river as a metaphor for his own. Immediately afterwards, he shakes the indecision and heads for Chicago.

Read the rest here: http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/10/evidence_mounts_ayers_cowrote.html

So much for Christopher Buckley’s ‘rare avis’ praise.

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