Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jack Cashill, a Kansas City-based writer and producer who serves as executive editor of Ingram’s, a regional business magazine. He is the author of the just released, Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President, his eighth book and his second on the subject of literary fraud. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.
FP: Jack Cashill, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with how you came to believe that Obama was not the principal author of his acclaimed memoir “Dreams from My Father”.
Cashill: Thanks Jamie.
I first picked up the book in July 2008. Early on in the first read, the quality of the writing caught my attention. Although the book lacks discipline, long stretches of Dreams are very well written. In my twenty-five year career in advertising and publishing, I have reviewed the portfolios of at least a thousand professional writers. Not a half-dozen among them wrote as well as the author of the book’s best passages. When I looked into Obama’s other efforts in print, I saw that nothing he wrote was nearly this good. What surprised me was that no one was even suspicious of Obama’s ability.
FP: Ok, so tell us why it matters if Obama wasn’t the real author.
Cashill: The literary gatekeepers had already anointed Obama a genius on the basis of Dreams, the sacred text in the cult of Obama. The Obama campaign machine, Organizing for America, encouraged its minions to “get out the vote and keep talking to others about the genius of Barack Obama.” This, I sensed from the beginning, was a myth that one challenged at his own peril.
FP: You ultimately came to the belief that Bill Ayers was the craftsman behind Dreams from My Father. How did you come to make this judgment?
Cashill: Entirely by accident. About six weeks after reading Dreams, I ordered a copy of Ayers’s 2001 memoir Fugitive Days and started reading. The stylistic parallels were stunning. At this point, I had my first Eureka moment, albeit a dumb one—Gosh, I thought, they both live in Chicago. They must have shared the same ghostwriter! I had not known that Ayers was a skilled writer and editor. As a case in point, Hyde Park PLO booster and Obama pal, Rashid Khalidi, credits Ayers in the first sentence of his acknowledgment section of his book, Resurrecting Empire.
FP: In the fall of 2008, what would have happened to the Obama campaign if your thesis had been accepted?
Cashill: Obama biographer David Remnick got this much right. Said he, “This was a charge that if ever proved true, or believed to be true among enough voters, could have been the end of the candidacy.”
FP: How did the media respond?
Cashill: With a shrug. This did not surprise me. Real knowledge might just have undermined their commitment to a philosophy so evasive — “Yes, we can?” — they themselves would be at a loss to describe it. That much I got. What I did not get was why the “respectable” conservative media were mimicking the turtle-like defenses of their mainstream peers. I was not asking them to buy my thesis sight unseen but to kick the tires and take it for a test drive.
FP: How confident were you that you were right?
Cashill: Four weeks before the election I was confident enough in my thesis to submit it to any test. If proved right, it would have undermined the foundational myth of Obama as genius, confirmed his intimate relationship with an unrepentant terrorist and, perhaps most damningly, established this still untested candidate as a liar of consequence. In short, it could have turned the election.
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