Saturday, 26 September 2009

Turns out I owe Jack Cashill an apology. Because I was wrong, wrong, wrong about the identity of the author of Dreams From My Father. Independent confirmation of Cashill's claim that William Ayers penned the President's memoir comes in the form of a book by celebrity biographer Christopher Andersen. Cashill is right to be excited—it's not every day you blunder to the plate, close your eyes, swing for the fences and have your prayers answered. That's what the arrival of corroborating evidence in Andersen's book amounts to, and no researcher who's found corroboration of the sort in independently researched materials will begrudge Cashill the tone of unreserved glee and grammatical abandon evident in his latest post: In his new book, "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage," Best-selling celebrity journalist, Christopher Andersen, has blown a huge hole in the Obama genius myth without intending to do so. Who cares that book titles are traditionally underlined or italicized, capital letters belong at the beginning of sentences, or that he uses, commas, like an undergraduate when independent research has provided a factual basis for his speculative argument: Relying on inside sources, quite possibly Michelle Obama herself, Andersen describes how Dreams came to be published—just as I had envisioned it in my articles on the authorship of Dreams. With the deadline pressing, Michelle recommended that Barack seek advice from "his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers." Only a killjoy would complain that Michelle Obama couldn't be a source, "quite possibly" or otherwise, because Andersen wrote an unauthorized biography—which, by definition, is a biography whose subject or subjects did not participate in its composition. That those "inside sources" who knew of Michelle's purported recommendation are not named, i.e. sourced, is the sort of thing that, despite being true, only someone who hated joy would point out. Andersen continues, "In the end, Ayers's contribution to Barack's Dreams From My Father would be significant—so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers's own writing." Even though Cashill jettisons the very pretense of formatting book titles here, and even though Andersen's claim is couched in a conditional clause ("would be significant") of the sort favored by authors who learned their libel law from the wrong end of many lawsuits, we should not let such quibbles diminish the importance of this independent, corroborating evidence—especially when, even though Cashill doesn't identify him in his post, these claims come from a named source: In the end, Ayers's contribution of Barack's Dreams from My Father would be significant—so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similiarity to Ayers's own writings . . . "There was a good deal of literary back-scratching going on in Hyde Park," said writer Jack Cashill, who noted that a mutual friend of Barack and Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, thanked Ayers for helping him with his book Resurrecting Empire. Ayers, explained Cashill, "provided an informal editing service for like-minded friends in the...
Because I only value decorum up to the point at which its violation makes me feel better about myself... . . . I will now post some of the emails Jeff Goldstein has sent me over the years. After all, as one of his own commenters wrote, "[he] has it coming." And he does. Still, for the better part of two days I clung to the high road. Then I realized that I'd never stop crying myself to sleep every night if I let this stand. Goldstein had left me in a bind: either I spend the rest of my nights choking back sobs, or I do something that disgusts decent people and have the sycophants who comment on my blog write insulting things about Goldstein on my behalf until I cared even less about the opinion of someone whose opinion means nothing to me. What choice did I have? Goldstein's not some random internet someone—he's someone whose opinion I claim not to value and he is out there, right now, writing critical stuff about an issue I claim not to care about. If ever a situation called for an uncalled for breach of etiquette, it is this one. So, without further ado, here's the email Jeff sent on 29 May 2006: Thanks for XXXXXXX. I haven't XXXX XXXXXXX of XXXXXXX since XXX XXXXXXX, but I would XXXX to XXX XXXXX XX XXX XXXXXXXXX at some point. I would go on, but as it continues in the same offensive vein at some length, you can get the flavor of it from that excerpt. This one from 1 June 2007 is truly explosive: I XXXXX I XXXXXXXX on the XXXXXXXXXX on the XXXXX example from XXXXX and XXXXXXXX in my XXXXXX XXXXX to XXXX this XXXXX. I could hardly believe it either. Even though I was privy to the particulars of that situation, I recoiled when I read Goldstein's take on it. Who says such things? More to the point: who says such things about them? I should have been outraged then, but to my eternal shame, at that moment I thought the matter had been settled and better left alone. I'm going to make up for that now by doing what I should've done then: I'm going to publish Goldstein's home address. I encourage anyone who thinks he needs to be punished for saying that about them to go to the following address and make your displeasure known: Jeff Goldstein XXXX XXXXXX XX XXXXXXXXX XX XXXXX-XXXX You know what? I do feel better. I should act on my basest instincts more often.

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