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Dreams From My Teleprompter
Last week on the Tonight Show, President Barack Obama told Jay Leno that he had recently bowled a 129, adding clumsily, it's "like the Special Olympics or something."
In this one sentence, President Obama had committed a more flagrant faux pas than any president in memory and than any public figure since Don “nappy headed ho” Imus two years back.
This had not been a good week for the allegedly eloquent president. A few days earlier, TOTUS—the teleprompter of the United States—apparently rebelled and had its president thanking himself for being invited to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.
As was becoming obvious to all, the president tends to flounder when off the teleprompter or when TOTUS is misbehaving. Indeed, spontaneous public speaking seems to be well “above his pay grade.”
This should not surprise. His whole career as a speaker and writer has depended on props and proxies, mechanical and otherwise.
Fortunately for the president, he has a veritable Swiss Guard of literary defenders. They will concede the authorship of a speech or two, and even humorously acknowledge Obama’s dependence on the teleprompter.
They will not, however, allow any challenge to authorship of the holy of holies, his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father. The whole Democrat genius/ Republican dunce mythology hinges on the brilliance displayed in this book.
Even more fortunately for the president, the first line of his literary defense is manned by the political right, specifically the respectable conservative media (RCM), those with a serious and sober presence in New York and/or Washington.
I got an up close look at these defenses during the 2008 election cycle. In July 2008, I first read Obama’s acclaimed autobiography, Dreams From My Father, and immediately thought it much too well written.
Lacking other writing samples at the time, I began to review Obama’s interviews to see if his spoken words correlated in any way—vocabulary, syntax, structure—with his written word and realized they did not.
In reading his second book, Audacity of Hope, and other key speeches, I sensed that he had been depending on wordsmiths throughout his meteoric career.
The voice in Audacity of Hope was transparently different from that of Dreams and that voice differed from the voice of Obama’s sneakily anti-Semitic 2002 anti-Iraq speech that launched his national career. (In Obama’s defense, he likely did know who Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz were and why they were uniquely singled out for criticism.)
By the beginning of October 2008, my confidence that Dreams had been thoroughly doctored and that the doctor was none other than terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers passed the 95 percent level.
On October 10, Rush Limbaugh talked about my research and that, in turn, prompted more evidence from individuals throughout the world—Israel, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland--now poring through all of Ayers’ and Obama’s books.
To be sure, 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 may have feared it was, they simply did not want to know. It could change the election.
This I understood. What I did not understand was why the RCM was coming to Obama’s aid. Some among them went on the offensive, publicly making the case for Obama’s genius and/or the idiocy of Sarah Palin, the latest in a long line of Republicans to be assigned the media’s dunce cap unfairly from Eisenhower to Ford to Reagan to Quayle to Bush.
Others played defense. Human Events punted on my research. The National Review did too. The FOX producers downstairs showed interest, but the suits upstairs did not.
A 20-something reporter from the Washington Times called because someone told her to, but she had no idea what the story was about. I referred her to my website and asked her to call me back. She never did.
The managing editor of the Weekly Standard referred me to the magazine’s literary editor, whose response echoed the others: “An interesting piece, but I’m rather oversubscribed at the moment, the length is considerable, and cutting would not do it justice. So permit me to decline with thanks for allowing me take a look.”
With the Weekly Standard’s imprimatur, my thesis could have shaken up the election, maybe even turned it. Dang those space limitations!
During this time the still vital forces in the conservative media—AM radio and the Internet—were trying to push the story downstream, but the RCM were damning it up. This effectively dried up Rush’s commentary, and the major media scarcely had to trouble themselves with it at all.
From election day on, for those who have cared to see, the myth of Obama genius has been eroding almost as quickly as the Dow.
Beguiled by his own press clippings, Obama boasted that he would write his inaugural speech himself. This was to be expected, after all, from a man that British literary heavyweight Jonathan Raban called “the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln.”
Raban, like most of Obama’s fans, was disappointed. The inaugural speech, he conceded, suffered from “moth-eaten metaphors,” “faux-antique dialect,” and jarring semantic errors like Obama’s use of the word “forbearers” when he meant “forebears.”
“It is simply mysterious how such tired language could sound appropriate to the ear of Obama the writer,” echoed Michael Gerson in The Washington Post.
Despite the mounting evidence, the Swiss Guard, left and right, refused to acknowledge the obvious: Obama is not a writer, never was, never will be.
Obama relies on their protection. When asked recently to provide inspiration for young writers, Obama responded, "I´ve written two books; I actually wrote them myself." He was flat out lying. He had massive help with both books and from at least two different people.
Much depends on sustaining the lie. Last year, Obama earned $949,910 in royalties from Dreams and $1.5 million from Audacity. In 2007, he reported $3.2 million in royalties from Random House.
Obama further entangled himself in this web of deceit by signing a $500,000 book deal to write a version of Dreams for a young audience just before he took office.
Still, the RCM remains mute or worse. Just last month, as the evidence of Obama’s limitations grew painfully obvious by the day, James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s online editorial page, rushed once more into the breach.
Taranto singled me out by name as among those of his fellow conservatives who “engaged in irresponsible rumor-mongering and conspiracy-theorizing” in my argument that “Ayers might have ghostwritten Obama's acclaimed autobiography.”
It was apparent from his critique that Taranto had probably not read the “acclaimed” Dreams and certainly had not read Bill Ayers much better memoir, Fugitive Days.
For whatever reason, the RCM have become cautious to the point of cowardly. My thesis involves no eyewitnesses or radar data or ballistics tests. To test it, no one would have to leave his or her DC desk.
All the evidence lay between the covers of five books, two ostensibly by Obama and three by Ayers. But even so simple a literary review has proved a task too daunting.
The major media will not act unless prodded. But unless and until the RCM gets off their collective arses and start prodding, teleprompter screw ups or not, we will likely be seeing still another race in 2012 between the genius Democrat Obama and the latest Republican dunce.
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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