"Birther” Media Breach
© Jack Cashill
These last weeks have witnessed a breach in the media firewall surrounding Barack Obama, first from CNN’s Lou Dobbs, then from “Obama’s favorite blogger,” Andrew O’Sullivan, and finally from Andrew McCarthy in National Review Online.
Ironically, the respectable conservative media like National Review have done a more zealous job manning the firewall than the mainstream media, but that is a story for another day.
“Show the documents. Get it done,” said Dobbs.
“Obama promised total transparency. Where is it?” a surprisingly ornery O’Sullivan asked in regards to the birth certificate controversy.
McCarthy criticized his own editors in his demand for transparency. The issue, he argues, is not the birth certificate per se, but “the true personal history of the man who has been sold to us based on nothing but his personal history?”
To make the case that Obama’s life story is “chock full of fiction,” McCarthy cites one particular passage from his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father.
“Eventually a consulting house to multinational corporations agreed to hire me as a research assistant. Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived every day at my mid-Manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal,” begins the passage in question. “As far as I could tell I was the only black man in the company.”
A co-worker has since revealed that this was, in fact, just an obscure little company that published newsletters and that Obama was not the only black person who worked there. He did not have an office, wear a jacket and tie as claimed, interview international businessmen or write articles.
“Obama lies about the small things, the inconsequential things,” McCarthy puzzles, but here McCarthy misses a larger point: Is it really Obama who is doing the lying?
The woman who raised Obama was a bank vice-president. Obama attended grade school in Indonesia, the best prep school in Hawaii and graduated from an Ivy League university. Why would he feel as if he were “behind enemy lines” in a corporation with an international mission?
The best explanation is that Obama did not write the passage in question but rather that he turned the framework of his life over to terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers who roughed it in with his own darker sentiments and experiences.
In his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers uses the phrase "behind enemy lines" to describe the Weather Underground’s militant position in its battle against "capitalism itself, the system of imperialism." In Ayers’ case, the phrase makes sense.
In Ayers' 1993 book, To Teach, he tells a story about a group of students who discover the spot on the Hudson, a tidal river, where the southern flow of the river meets the northern flow of the tides.
In Dreams, this image is used as metaphor for Obama’s paralyzing indecision. After quitting his corporate job, Obama takes a detour to the spot on the parallel East River where the southern flow of the river meets the northern flow of the tides.
There, improbably, a young black boy approaches this strange man and asks, “You know why sometimes the river runs that way and then sometimes it goes this way?” Obama tells the boy it “had to do with the tides.”
“Like a tourist, I watched the range of human possibility on display,” writes Obama of his New York experience, “trying to trace out my future in the lives of the people I saw, looking for some opening through which I could re-enter.” Re-enter what? This too seems more the reflection of a soon to be ex-fugitive than that of a Columbia undergrad.
On another occasion in Dreams, Obama tells of going to hear the black activist formerly known as Stokely Carmichael speak at Columbia. As he is leaving, he watches ruefully as “two Marxists” scream insults at each other over minor sectarian differences.
“It was like a bad dream,” thinks Obama. “The movement had died years ago, shattered into a thousand fragments.”
These sentiments seem much too knowing and weighty for a 20 year-old just in from Hawaii and LA.
Similarly, when the young Obama pontificates about “angry young men in Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta,” one hears the voice of someone much edgier and more aware than Obama.
Ayers was obsessed with Vietnam. It defined him and still does. In Fugitive Days he uses the phrase “Mekong Delta” as insider shorthand for Vietnam.
Similarly, Ayers would have had a much deeper connection than Obama to “ Detroit,” whose historic riot took place, shortly before Obama’s sixth birthday.
Ayers was posted to Detroit the year after the riot and experienced its fallout first hand. In 2007, on his blog, he “commemorates” the 40th anniversary of what he predictably calls the “Detroit Rebellion.”
When Ayers’ sentiments are too dark for Obama to express he finds another proxy. In To Teach, for instance, Ayers explains that “education is for self-activating explorers of life, for those who would challenge fate, for doers and activists, for citizens.”
“Training,” on the other hand, “is for slaves, for loyal subjects, for tractable employees, for willing consumers, for obedient soldiers.”
In Dreams, it is “Frank,” the real life poet, pornographer and Stalinist, Frank Marshall Davis, who makes Ayers’ case for him.
“Understand something, boy,” Frank tells the college-bound Obama. “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained.”
Frank shares Ayers’ distaste for training. “They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know,” Frank tells Obama. “They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that shit.”
Speaking of proxies, Obama seems to borrow the one girlfriend in the oddly sexless Dreams from Ayers’ experience, specifically Diana Oughton, the Weathergirl who blew herself up in Greenwich Village.
Like Oughton, Obama’s lover had brown hair and green eyes. Coincidentally, they both grew up on vast, fourth-generation estates, each with an impressive library, a ring of trees around the estate, and a pond in the middle.
Obama’s relationship with this mystery white women, like Ayers’ relationship with Oughton, had a bittersweet ending.
Curiously, Obama tells the story of this past love while cutting “two green peppers.” In his 1997 book, A Kind And Just Parent, Ayers specifically links “green peppers” with “saltpeter” and other substances that scare young men with the threat of impotence.
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