Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dr. Bruce Heiden Questions President Obama's Authorship of "Dreams from My Father"

"[President Obama] doesn't say how these memories turned into the book Dreams from My Father. In particular, he doesn't say he wrote the book. He says that Dreams 'found its way onto these pages' [xvi]...Obama's whole Introduction to Dreams has the odd rhetorical project of persuading the reader that Barack Obama, the author of Dreams from My Father, actually had nothing to do with writing his book and couldn't have written it."---Dr. Bruce Heiden describing the Introduction of President Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 2004 paperback edition.

Dr. Heiden, a professor of Greek and Latin at Ohio State University, does not believe that President Obama is the author of his highly-acclaimed 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father.

I have posted a number of articles about Dr. Jack Cashill, a Ph.D. author who has written a series of articles that also raise questions about the authorship of President Obama's 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father. Last October, Jack Cashill reviewed Dr. Heiden's thesis here.

Dr. Cashill's articles make the case that that the Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers had a hand in writing the President's autobiography. It would not be the first time that a communist bomber retired, was rehabilitated, and took up ghostwriting. [See the entry on Pavel Sudoplatov in Vadim J. Birstein's The Perversion of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science, pages 423-4; See also footnote 118, page 353]
Billy Ayers was already asked if he had a hand in the President's autobiography, and he didn't flatly deny this possibility. He just called Dr. Cashill "paranoid":

[Barack Obama] is a talented and well-educated and erudite and articulate guy and he wrote two really brilliant and well-written memoirs. But somebody [Jack Cashill] did a textual analysis that proved that the nautical images in Fugitive Days were similar to [Obama's Dreams from My Father] and I was the ghostwriter...It's amazing where the paranoid mind can take you.---Weather Underground Terrorist Billy Ayers (Salon 11-17-08, page 2)

Professor Bruce Heiden has studied the language of the new Introduction in the 2004 paperback edition of Dreams and has compared the new Forward with the original Preface that follows.

Dr. Heiden writes (10-18-08):

Jack Cashill has assembled evidence suggesting that Barack Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father may be the work of a ghostwriter: Obama's Chicago neighbor William Ayers. Obama agrees with Cashill on one important point: in his own Introduction to Dreams, which describes his book's genesis, Obama himself strongly implies that he didn't write it.

According to Obama, he did some writing on another book, not a memoir but "an essay on the limits of civil rights litigation in bringing about racial equality" (xiii; all citations refer to the 2004 paperback edition). This book was never finished, and it doesn't exist. Obama says that his work on the "civil rights litigation" project was aborted by personal memories that forced themselves upon him: "I found my mind pulled..." (xiv). But he doesn't say how these memories turned into the book Dreams from My Father. In particular, he doesn't say he wrote the book. He says that Dreams "found its way onto these pages" (xvi).

Most readers of Dreams have probably assumed that Obama's curiously impersonal description is merely figurative, a display of humility, a modest way of saying that he did write the book the reader has in hand. I have no doubt that Obama hoped the words would be understood that way. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Obama's display of humility is so extreme that although he devotes his Introduction to just a single topic--where Dreams came from--he omits the writing altogether. Instead he replaces the writing of Dreams by a quasi-automatic process whereby memories somehow took form in words and found a way onto the page by themselves. This picture is so fantastic that it can't be taken literally, and therefore can't be suspected of falsehood. In describing a genesis of Dreams that is blatantly impossible, Obama is counting on readers to think, "he can't really mean it," and he leaves it to us to come up with our own idea of what he did mean. That's very convenient for Obama, since in saying, as in essence he does, "this book came into existence without anybody writing it," Obama also implies, "and I, the credited author, didn't write it." Unlike "nobody wrote this book," "I didn't write this book" is not a fantastic statement that cannot mean what it literally says. Lots of people didn't write Dreams from My Father. Maybe Barack Obama is one of them.

Obama's whole Introduction to Dreams has the odd rhetorical project of persuading the reader that Barack Obama, the author of Dreams from My Father, actually had nothing to do with writing his book and couldn't have written it.

..Obama's Introduction to Dreams from My Father is a pretty strange document. But the Preface he affixed to the 2004 reissue is even stranger. Bear in mind that the Preface is printed immediately before the Introduction in the 2004 edition, so that it would not be difficult for anyone to read both of them and compare. Like the Introduction, the Preface also narrates the genesis of Dreams. But Obama seems to have forgotten parts of his own story.

As I mention in the original introduction, the opportunity to write the book came while I was in law school, the result of my election as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. In the wake of some modest publicity, I received an advance from a publisher and went to work with the belief that the story of my family...might speak in some way to the fissures of race, etc. (vii, emphasis added)

The "burst of publicity" that testified to Obama's "modest accomplishments" in the Introduction has here been reduced to "some modest publicity." The "few publishers" who initiated Obama's project when they "called" him have given way to "an advance" (i.e., a cash incentive) that Obama received from "a publisher." But most importantly, Obama's original project (the essay on the limits of civil rights litigation), his project agenda, his work-in-progress, the memories that arose unbidden to overwhelm his theories, his struggle to resist the direction in which those memories were leading him, the final triumph in which his inner journey "found its way onto these pages"--all this has disappeared. According to the 2004 Preface, when Obama received his advance, he already had a "belief" about the story he could tell, and he immediately "went to work."

Obama says he "went to work" on Dreams from My Father, but he still does not say that he wrote it. In the Introduction Obama also said he went to work on his essay about civil rights litigation, and even that he "sat down and began to write." But he never wrote that book, and it doesn't exist. When Obama says in the Preface that he "went to work" on Dreams, it's impossible to know whether this means he started writing the book, started thinking about writing it, or started imagining how to deliver a book to his publisher without writing one. "Went to work" claims only that Obama made some early contribution to the Dreams project as a content-provider, whatever a content-provider might be.

Obama's narrative then skips straight from "went to work" to the completed book's publication. [See the full text]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gutless Republican garbage say the dumbest things...

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He and Micehelle went to Bali for several months so he could work undistracted.

I think Michelle wrote it for/with him when he couldn't produce what the advance has been given for, the race book.

She wrote it. Makes sense to me.

11:31 PM  

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