Ayers at Starbucks
I write this two weeks after Christopher Andersen, author of the new best-seller "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of An American Marriage," told Sean Hannity that Bill Ayers did indeed lend a major assist to the writing of Barack Obama's acclaimed 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father."
It is not as if Andersen just mentioned this in passing. He spends six pages on it. It is not as if Andersen has a bone to pick with the president. He seems to love the guy. It is not as if Andersen has a reputation for reckless journalism. Au contraire! He is a pro with a proven track record.
As I write, however, I still await the first mention of this – the most consequential literary scandal of our time – in print anywhere within the United States, including, alas, in our own very respectable conservative media.
Bizarrely, this is a bigger story in Zaire, whose major media have covered it fairly, than in New York or Washington. Go figure.
While I wait, I take consolation in knowing that oxygen pumps freely through the blogosphere and the airwaves of AM radio.
Happily, the reporters who labor therein, usually on their own dime, have not yet decayed into the walking media dead Tom Wolfe once famously described as "tiny mummies."
Kudos, in particular, to Chicagoan Anne Leary, a Harvard grad and the chief cook and bottle washer at BackyardConservative.com.
On Monday of this week, Leary was heading back to the Midwest when she ran into none other than professor Bill Ayers at the Reagan National Airport Starbucks.
To prove the encounter, Leary shot a picture of Ayers on her Blackberry and posted his image. "An instant blight," she calls him. "Scruffy, thinning beard, dippy earring, and the wire rims."
"What are you doing in D.C., Mr. Ayers?" she asked respectfully.
Ayers told her he was giving a lecture in Arlington to a Renaissance group on education.
The theme, by the way, was "A Time for Reflection, Celebration and Rebirth." Writes Leary, "How touching. At best, useless, at worst, so wrong." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was also in attendance.
Trying to assess her sympathies, Ayers continued, "You shouldn't believe everything you hear about me. You know nothing about me."
"I know plenty," said the admirably brazen Leary. "I'm from Chicago, a conservative blogger, and I'll post this."
At this point, the encounter turned totally weird. Out of the blue, Ayers said to Leary, "I wrote 'Dreams From My Father.'"
"Oh," Leary replied. "So you admit it."
"Michelle [Obama] asked me to," he answered with a straight face.
"Stop pulling my leg," said Leary, then thinking to herself, "What a horrible thought," the leg pulling that is.
"I really wrote it," he insisted.
"I believe you probably heavily edited it," Leary countered, but when he continued to insist that he wrote it, she said. "Why would I believe you? You're a liar."
At this point, Ayers turned and walked off, suggesting as he did that she prove he wrote "Dreams" so he could split the proceeds with the Obamas.
Before this encounter, Leary had paid little attention to the authorship of "Dreams." The fact that Ayers had volunteered all this information surprised her.
There was obviously irony in the air, but I suspect a double level of irony on Ayers' part: He says what is true as a way of throwing doubt on what is, in fact, true.
I talked to Leary, however, and she was not at all convinced that Ayers was being ironic at all.
Then it dawned on me that Ayers and I may share the same fantasy: that is walking through an airport and being mobbed by reporters celebrating our respective genius: he for writing "Dreams" and me for discovering his role.
I suspect my expectations are lower. Having worked on the right side of the media for some time, I know that nothing I could possibly reveal about Obama would prompt a single phone call from the major media, let alone a mob of reporters.
So instead of that mob, what Ayers and I share for now is a single, brassy blogger in Reagan National.
I would not be shocked if this proved to be the height of our respective glory.
Editor's note: For a more complete account of this phenomenon, read Jack Cashill's amazing new book, "Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture.
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