A week ago, I received a text from a reporter at the Kansas City Star. It read, “Mr. Cashill. Michael Ryan from the Star here. Do you have a moment to get acquainted and for me to ask your opinion on Josh Hawley.” Wary of phone calls with reporters, especially from the Star, I texted back. “Here is a quote. ‘Josh is a super stand-up guy, a presidential contender. Rockhurst should be proud.'”
Rockhurst is the Jesuit High School that Hawley attended in Kansas City where I live. I added the “Rockhurst” line to offset the guff coming Hawley’s way from his alma mater.I attended a Jesuit high school myself, in New York City. I had just received my alumni magazine with a glowing article about our most celebrated alum and current cover boy, Anthony Fauci. Which reminds me of an old Catholic joke: What is the difference between a Baptist and a Jesuit? Answer: the Baptist knows he’s not Catholic.
Living up to the punch line, Rockhurst school president David J. Laughlin offered up the following bromide: “A growing society which shows contempt and intolerance for our treasured heritage of plurality, process and dignified disagreement cannot continue.” Laughlin wasn’t through. “I call upon all of our elected officials, including our graduate Senator Josh Hawley, to conduct their own examination of conscience on this matter. If wrong occurs, one ought to seek atonement and reconciliation. These are the Christian principles Rockhurst teaches when wrong has occurred.”
“The Republican nominee for president will be that candidate who best learns that there is no future in apologizing,” I wrote in a June 10, 2015, column. Six days later Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower and, in so doing, launched the most volatile period in American history since the Civil War.
I wish I could say I had Trump in mind when I wrote the above, but as right as my prediction proved to be, I did not even know Trump was running. His refusal to back down or apologize came at a huge personal cost, but the rest of us, including his enemies, benefited from his un-Republican-like willingness to punch back when punched.
The benefits came in two primary forms: what Trump accomplished as president and what he exposed. The last few months, and the last week especially, were all about exposure. We will get to this in a minute, but first a quick brief on Trump’s accomplishment.
As I look at two sets of statistics for the year 2020, I reflect on former Attorney General Eric Holder’s bold accusation in early 2009.
First the statistics: In 2020, Kansas City, Missouri, population 500,000, had 180 homicides. Johnson County, Kansas, our immediate neighbor to the west, population 600,000, had eight homicides, none since July.
Now to Eric Holder: “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot,” said Holder to his subordinates at the Department of Justice on his first day in office, “in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
The “cowards” line got people’s attention. Writes Obama in his new memoir, “A Promised Land,” it was “a true enough observation but not necessarily the headline we were looking for at the end of my first few weeks in office.” Although white Americans are reluctant to speak about race, Holder, like Obama, seemed clueless as to why. Let me give them a heads up from my own experience.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie begins her New York Times review of “A Promised Land” with this sentence, “Barack Obama is as fine a writer as they come.”
This was, I am sure, music to Obama’s ears. As one commenter on the Washington Post review deadpanned, “Obama may have been the first president, who became president, so he would have material for a memoir.” Throughout his life, Obama has openly aspired to be a writer. He has crafted his persona as much around that identity as he has that of a politician, even of a president.
Indeed, it was the literary world’s enthusiasm for what the Times’ Jennifer Szalai’s called “Obama’s extraordinary first book” – “Dreams from My Father” – that fueled his political rise.In reading “A Promised Land” – I am taking one here for the team, guys – I was shocked to see him respond as he did to Donald Trump’s 2011 challenge to his literary reputation.
The headline read, “Obama jokes that Navy SEALs could remove Trump from the White House.”
The headline referred to Barack Obama’s graceless comment on the Jimmy Kimmel show that if President Trump refused to leave the White House, “Well, I think we can always send the Navy SEALs in there to dig him out.”
As he did with Kimmel and has done in numerous venues to sell his latest memoir, “A Promised Land,” Obama has been ridiculing Trump for challenging election fraud. What Obama does not want America to know, however, is that he launched his own career doing just what Trump is doing now.
Obama is banking on the fact that his critics have not bothered to read his book. Even still, had Obama’s memoir gone to press after the election, I am confident that one story would never have made it into the final print run, but it did.
In 2011, when Trump started making noise about the birth certificate, Obama turned to the one man who knew his secrets. “Finally I decided I’d had enough,” Obama writes in his new memoir “A Promised Land.”
“I called in White House counsel Bob Bauer and told him to go ahead and obtain the long-form birth certificate from its home in a bound volume, somewhere deep in the bowels of the Hawaii Vital Records office.”
Bauer dispatched Obama’s personal attorney Judith Corley, also of Perkins Coie, to secure two copies of the long form birth certificate. If it was all so easy, one has to wonder why Bauer did not get a copy when Berg first brought suit.
In 2016 Perkins Coie again showed its creativity when it retained Fusion GPS to create the infamous Steele dossier. A cynic might suggest that a firm capable of commissioning the Steele dossier would have no trouble dummying up a birth certificate.
December 8, 2020
Increasingly, the Kansas City “community” has morphed into a circle of the like-minded. The astute African-American social commentator Shelby Steele refers to this circle as the “zone of decency.” Those within find redemption by decertifying those without. The decent are quick to call their preferred media outlet when the seemingly less-decent breach the zone with a rogue opinion, which is how Ruckus got cancelled, literally.
By the most generous of definitions, The Star is a for-profit enterprise. It makes no marketing sense to decertify half or more of the newspaper’s red-state market, but that is the publisher’s right. The taxpayer-funded KCUR and KCPT do not have that right. They exercise it nonetheless. These entities no longer even fake objectivity. Together, they exert substantial pressure on the corporate and nonprofit community to follow the party line. Those who march to the beat of their own drum or even question the orthodoxy du jour can quickly find themselves shamed, decertified, cancelled.
None of this portends well for any genuine sense of community. “I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants of the United States managed to fix a common goal to the efforts of many men and to get them to advance to it freely,” said Alexis de Tocqueville, explaining the unique genius of America. The critical word here is “freely.” In Kansas City, as in many such cities, freedom has yielded to intimidation. We have already cancelled J.C. Nichols and Andrew Jackson. Can Harry Truman be far behind?
Over the years the CPJ board of directors has included any number of liberal luminaries, among them Christiane Amanpour, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Clarence Page, and even serious leftists like Victor Navasky, longtime editor of the Nation. The principal author of the report was Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post. In the opening paragraph of the report, Downie sliced right to the heart of the issue:
“In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.”
There is a power couple in Washington that has the moxie and the muscle that the Obamas lack, and no, it is not Bill and Hillary Clinton. In fact, few beyond the Beltway would recognize the names of Anita Dunn and her attorney husband, Bob Bauer. Although not well known, these primeval swamp dwellers know enough about the Obamas and the Clintons to keep both couples in line.
Dunn, a 62-year-old veteran “strategist,” is managing Biden’s transition just as she guided his campaign for most of the past year. That campaign may not have looked like much, but by hook and by crook it netted an “historic” 80 million votes at last count, an incredible 15 million more votes than Barack Obama secured in his 2012 reelection bid.
In his new memoir, “A Promised Land,” Barack Obama attempts to do something the reviewers havechosen not to notice, namely to surgically excise his father from his fabled and apparently fabricated life story.
In brief, Obama has shored up his American roots by obliterating his international ones. This move took some thought. Obama wrote his first memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” about his Homeric quest for identity, a Telemachus searching for his own Odysseus, the Kenyan Barack Obama.
Stunningly, in “A Promised Land,” the Kenyan is an afterthought.