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“Dreams” Controversy Goes Global
©Jack CashillWorldNetDaily.com - November 6, 2008
As late as two weeks ago I had not the foggiest notion that I would spend the last week of the campaign in DC or the last weekend in a spitting match with The London Times and Oxford University, two institutions that buy their spit by the barrel.
This all began back in July, entirely innocently. Someone sent me some short excerpts from Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father and asked if they were as radical as they sounded.
I located the excerpts within larger passages online and replied that, in fact, they were not particularly radical in context.
But I did notice something else. They were much too well written. In my careers in advertising and publishing, I have reviewed no fewer than a thousand portfolios of professional writers.
Not one of those aspirants could have written Dreams, at least not the best parts. I am not sure I could have.
The Times of London, in fact, has called Dreams “a beautifully written personal memoir steeped in honesty.” And if the “honesty” part is dubious, the “beautifully written” part is not.
The very few people who had addressed the issue of a ghostwriter addressed it in the negative: Unlike a Bush or a McCain, Obama did not need a ghostwriter. To a large degree Obama’s persona had been crafted around this illusion, and he was not about to dispel it.
I was suspicious. A few years ago I had written a book on intellectual fraud, Hoodwinked, and I learned how easy it was to put one over if the writer advanced a cause that the literary gatekeepers wanted to see advanced. Obama was surely one such cause.
I expressed my concerns in a July 31 WorldNetDaily piece called, “ Who wrote Dreams From My Father?” But I had no answer to my own question and let the story drop.
About six weeks later, for entirely unrelated reasons, I picked up a copy of Bill Ayers 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days. Ayers, I discovered, writes very well and very much like “Obama.”
Unlike Dreams, however, where the high style is intermittent, Fugitive Days is tightly written from one end to the other. Ayers, I Iearned, is a gifted writer and editor and, as Rashid Khlaidi has attested, serves as something of a literary doctor for his radical Hyde Park neighbors
This revelation led to a three-parter in WND titled, “Did Bill Ayers Write Obama’s ‘Dreams,” beginning September 18.
This series prompted readers to send me more examples of parallel stories, themes, metaphors, early Obama pieces, timelines and other circumstantial evidence—all of it pointing to a substantial role for Ayers in the writing of Dreams.
Although I thought the evidence compelling, even overwhelming, the journalists with whom I spoke insisted on the confirmation of science.
I sought out the best people I could find in American academia. Although I expected to get my wrist slapped for daring to question Obama’s authenticity, my respondents were, to the person, intrigued by the evidence I had gathered.
They were also wary. My correspondence with Patrick Juola of Duquesne, one of the nation’s leading authorities on literary forensics, was indicative. On the subject of computer-based authorship studies, he cautioned me that “the accuracy simply isn't there.”
As he explained, the best-performing methods range between 50 and 90 percent in accuracy and for high stakes issues like this one, “The repercussions of a technical error could be a disaster (in either direction).”
Juola added, “A better approach is simply to do what you're already doing . . . good old-fashioned literary detective work.” And that is what I continued to do.
By the beginning of October, my confidence that Ayers had deeply doctored Dreams had passed the 95 percent level.
On October 10, Rush Limbaugh talked about what I was doing on the air and that, in turn, prompted more evidence from more individuals now poring through all of Ayers’ and Obama’s books.
What troubled me, however, was that to degree the media—including the “respectable” conservative media--inquired into this project, it was to dismiss my evidence out of hand, not to pursue it.
My hypothesis had serious consequence if proven, and I was more than willing to share what I had gathered. The evidence spoke for itself.
But not one single major media outlet stepped up to commission a university study or even test the evidence that I had gathered. If my hypothesis were true, and they likely feared it was, they simply did not want to know.
By October 17, I had all but resigned myself to the fact that this story was not going to escape the Internet/ talk radio orbit when I got a call from a fellow in California named Bob Fox.
A concerned citizen, Fox was also an associate of Utah congressman Chris Cannon whom Fox had interested in the research I had been doing.
They were both convinced that only a serious data-driven study could force the media to pay attention, and they persuaded a team at a large state university to undertake one.
Although the study was limited by time and resources, the two scholars agreed that there was a high likelihood that Ayers had written large swaths of Dreams. Fearing for their jobs, however, they would not speak on the record.
Three other independent researchers stepped up, one prompted, two spontaneous. All confirmed Ayers’ hand in Obama’s Dreams, but none of them had name or credentials enough to grab media attention.
With time running out, Fox turned to Oxford philosophy don Peter Millican, who had created a software program designed to help detect the authorship of a given work.
And here is where it got really weird. When Fox proved unable to come up with the $10,000 needed for Millican to do the project, Millican ran to the London Times.
His story appeared under the headline, “How they tried to tarnish Barack Obama: Peter Millican reveals how he was drawn into a plot to link the Democrat to a former radical.”
Said the seemingly offended Millican, “I was left with the impression that payment for propaganda was fine; but payment for objective research was quite a different matter.”
After about 50 phone calls with Fox, I can assure you that I have not met anyone more sincerely interested in the truth than Fox has been.
Millican affirmed the same to me in an email just before the London Times article came out, one of the several friendly emails he sent to me while casually sliming me, Fox and the entire Republican Party.
Indeed, the preliminary report he posted on this subject was so shabby and slapdash that it had me checking Britain’s famous libel laws before I was halfway through.
Still, by using the London Times as his forum, Millican has opened this controversy to scholars throughout the world. I have already heard from ones in Australia and India, who have added new supportive data to my evidence bank.
And as to Millican, Fox and I hope he undertakes a real study. Fox, in fact, still swears by him. If legitimate, such a study will confirm Ayers’ involvement. Of that, I am certain.
In any case, with Millican or without, this story is not over yet.
Posted on WorldNetDaily.com
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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