Case closed: Obama not literate enough to write his books

Jack Cashill -- author of "Gone With the Wind" -- thinks he's proved the case that Bill Ayers wrote Obama's memoir

Topics: Barack Obama, War Room,

You’ve probably heard at some point about the fractious world of literary criticism. Deep differences divide the various schools of thought: Is the historical context of a work relevant, or should scholars stick to the inherent features and form of the text? Is there a political function intrinsic to literature? Did Barack Obama actually write his first book, Dreams From My Father?

Yes, there’s someone out there considering that last one. Jack Cashill, a conservative journalist, has spent the last year or so puzzling over texts and performing various analyses in an attempt to prove that Bill Ayers is the real author of the president’s autobiography. On Sunday, he announced a “breakthrough.”

Here’s Cashill’s proof: In his own book, Bill Ayers misspelled Frantz Fanon’s (quite unusually spelled) first name, using the more common “Franz.” Obama’s book contains the same error. Ayers and Obama both quote the opening lines of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” in the same way, mistakenly turning the phrase “hog butcher for the world” into “hog butcher to the world.” Both books have characters named Malik, Freddy, Tim, Coretta, Marcus and “the old man.”

There are a few more points like this — for example, Ayers “fetishistically” refers to eyebrows six times, and Obama “stunningly” tops that with seven, Cashill says. But the argument seems to boil down to a lot of, “One book says this, and that sounds just like what the other book says.”

For example:

Both authors link Indonesia with Vietnam. In each case, clueless officials — plural — with the “State Department” try to explain how the march of communism through “Indochina” will specifically imperil “Indonesia.” The Ayers account, however, at least sounds vaguely real. The Obama account sounds like an Ayers’ memory imposed on Obama’s mother. She allegedly discussed these geo-political strategy sessions in Indonesia with her pre-teen son.

Also, Obama and Ayers both seem to know the terms “baleful” and “bill of particulars,” both of which went over Cashill’s head — and in the writer’s mind, the use of a word he doesn’t know is clear proof of shenanigans.



For a nice, clean, line-by-line shredding of Cashill, see here. Or here. (One example — by Cashill’s standards, Dreams From My Father was also ghost-written by Paul Krugman, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress, among many others.)

Cashill found some support among mainstream conservatives last year, but they’ll probably steer clear this time, and they’ll be right to do so. Still, it’s the sort of crazy that tends to get purchase in the fever swamps. So it’s puzzling that Cashill would forgo his most obvious piece of evidence against Obama: That botched “Chicago” quotation — that’s from Carl Sandburg. A well-known socialist.

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.

       

    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."

    Reuters/NASA

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>