Middle East studies in the News
Palin Co-author Probed, Obama's Ignored [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
Politico's Ben Smith found it newsworthy that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin chose a "partisan evangelical" Christian to co-author her upcoming instant best-seller, but somehow he and the mainstream media have decided that serious evidence suggesting an unrepentant Marxist terrorist had a primary role in President Obama's highly acclaimed literary memoir is of no interest.
Not a single mainstream reviewer or political editor has so much as mentioned the controversy over authorship of "Dreams from My Father" that was resurrected last week when a major new book reported Obama sought the literary assistance of William Ayers, founder of the radical Weather Underground group, points out WND columnist Jack Cashill.
Cashill has written more than two dozen columns since June 2008, summarized here, making the case that Ayers – dismissed by Obama during the campaign as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" – shaped and refined "Dreams" with his exceptional writing skill and radical ideas.
Andersen, in "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of a Marriage," writes that Obama was faced with a deadline with the Time Books division of Random House to submit his manuscript after already having canceled a contract with Simon & Schuster. Confronted with the threat of a second failure, his wife, Michelle, suggested he seek the help of "his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers."
Obama's 1995 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."
Cashill observes, in a column yesterday, that scores of major media organs have 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 have mentioned the author's detailed narrative about Ayers collaboration with Obama.
In a new column today, Cashill comment's on Smith's story yesterday in Politico about Palin's co-author, Lynn Vincent, a former editor for the evangelical World magazine.
Smith writes that Palin's "most consequential choice since leaving the Alaska governor's mansion may be her co-author – a staunch conservative, devoted evangelical Christian, and intensely partisan Republican from far, far outside the Beltway."
Vincent, Smith notes early in his piece, was co-writer of a memoir by controversial Gen. William Boykin and co-authored "Donkey Cons," a book that describes the Democratic Party since its inception as "pro-gangster" and the "party of treason and subversion."
Cashill comments: "It seems to me that having a collaborator who is a self-professed communist and unrepentant bomb thrower is more newsworthy than having a collaborator who is a Christian conservative with no known rap sheet."
Cashill said it also struck him as newsworthy that Andersen had caught Obama in two lies – that he had little knowledge of Ayers and had written his memoirs by himself.
"I've written two books," Obama told a crowd of teachers in Virginia during the campaign last year. "I actually wrote them myself."
Cashill concludes, "Had the truth about 'Dreams' been shared widely during the 2008 campaign, Obama would never have been nominated, let alone elected."
Andersen shouldn't be ignored, Cashill argues, pointing out the author has written 28 books, including best-sellers on the Clintons, Princess Diana and Caroline Kennedy.
A former People Magazine senior editor, Andersen writes well, Cashill adds, "checks his facts thoroughly, and appeals to the soft left center of the American media."
Andersen clearly states the Obamas were convinced of "Ayers's proven abilities as a writer," and Barack particularly liked the novelistic style of "To Teach," a 1993 book by Ayers.
Obama hoped to use a comparable style for his own family history, but although he had taped interviews with many of his relatives, he could not find it in himself to write the book, Andersen reports.
Andersen details Obama's blown advances, his futile trip to Bali to find an undisturbed place to write and the growing financial and emotional pressure to finish a memoir he had started four years earlier.
Andersen says, finally, Obama's "oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers."
Adds Andersen, "Thanks to help from veteran writer Ayers, Barack would be able to submit a manuscript to his editors at Times Book."
Cashill points out that revelation should be troubling to a book reviewer or editor, because Obama insisted throughout the 2008 campaign that he barely knew Ayers.
"Obama was lying," Cashill states bluntly.
More troubling," he continues, "is that Obama allowed Ayers to crawl around inside his brain and define to the world who Obama is. Whatever Ayers was, he remains a small "c" communist and a sworn enemy of the 'marauding monster' that is America."
Cashill calls "Dreams" a "politically calculated book," noting Obama nowhere acknowledges Ayers' help. In contrast, another Hyde Park neighbor, Palestinian radical Rashid Khalidi, thanks Ayers in the first sentence of the acknowledgements in his 2004 book "Resurrecting Empire."
"Khalidi had no plans to run for office," Cashill points out.
Cashill also points to textual evidence that strongly suggests Ayers was involved, though to a lesser degree, in Obama's 2006 book "Audacity of Hope."
Cashill observes that keeping the potentially damning revelation of Ayers collaboration secret gives Ayers significant leverage in his relationship with Obama.
"For Obama's literary acolytes," Cashill writes, 'which seem to include every book reviewer in the English speaking world, Andersen's account throws one more devastating psychic punch: Obama is not the literary wunderkind he is cracked up to be."
Christopher Buckley, in one of his last columns for National Review, wrote, for example" "I've read Obama's books, and they are first-rate. He is that rara avis, the politician who writes his own books. Imagine."
Nobel prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison said she was "astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase."
"I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography," she said.
Noted British novelist Jonathan Raban wrote: "Every sentence has its own graceful cadence! He could as easily be a novelist as a politician!"
Based on "Dreams," Raban calls Obama "the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln."
Cashill says that if reviewers of Anderson's book wanted to assess the validity of the author's sources, they could have checked Cashill's work.
In an interview on the "Mancow" talk-radio show Monday, Cashill notes, Andersen confirmed that he had two sources "within Hyde Park."
"I would not be shocked if these sources were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn," Cashill says.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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