"I've written two books," candidate Barack Obama told a crowd of teachers in Virginia in July of 2008. The crowd applauded. "I actually wrote them myself."
In his massive new biography about Obama's pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize winner David Garrow chose to cut this literary baby in half. Yes, Obama had help with his 1995 masterpiece, Dreams from My Father – a lot of help – but it sure as hell did not come from local editorial guru Bill Ayers. In the book, Garrow does not even raise the Ayers question. It is seemingly beneath his dignity. The help allegedly came from a law school buddy named Rob Fisher.
As to Obama's presumed genius, Garrow never quite endorses it, but he does not challenge it, either. He makes no comment, for instance, on the literary quality of Obama's first published essay, "Breaking the War Mentality," written during Obama's senior year at Columbia. He should have.
The essay is clunky, pedestrian, and wonkish, a C- paper in freshman comp – maybe less, given that there are five sentences in which the noun and verb do not agree. As a curiosity, both Garrow and earlier biographer David Maraniss quote the same one of those five sentences, and each fixes it to make the grammatical problem either go away or look less obvious.............Read more
So When Exactly Did Bill Ayers and Barack Obama Meet? In his massive new biography about Barack Obama's pre-presidential years, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Garrow makes hash out of the lie that preserved Obama's candidacy in 2008. That said, he pulls back from the implications of his own revelations to protect what remains of Obama's literary reputation.
In the way of background, during an April 2008 presidential primary debate on ABC, George Stephanopoulos said about Bill Ayers and pals, "They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He's never apologized for that." He then asked Obama, "Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?"
"This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood," said Obama dismissively of Ayers. "He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from [sic] on a regular basis."
The question fueled what the L.A. Times called a "storm of criticism." The rage was directed not at Obama for his dissembling, but at Stephanopoulos for his effrontery. How dare he ask Obama about an "obscure sixties radical"? asked Michael Grunwald of Time. The media chose not to follow up. If they had, Hillary Clinton would have won the nomination............