This week in the Post-Gazette, our good friend Jack Kelly does his own character assassination of Barack Obama. It's a particularly difficult argument to counter as it's almost all based on subjective reactions by conservative or otherwise debunked sources. But let's plow through anyway.
Barack Obama is the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to be elected to the presidency, historian Michael Beschloss told radio talk show host Don Imus in November of 2008.So assuming you know something when you don't is bad, right Jack?
"So what is his IQ?" Mr. Imus asked. Mr. Beschloss didn't know. He was just assuming.
Let's keep going. Jack continues:
There is little evidence to support it. Mr. Obama went to Harvard, but so did George W. Bush, who some liberals consider dumber than dirt. The president won't release his transcripts, so we can't judge by his grades. Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.Jack, how do you know that? That last part, I mean. That when Obama was selected president of the Harvard Law Review it was a popularity contest.
Turns out, Jack, that your assumption here was wrong. Who says so?
Bradford Berenson, Obama classmate at Harvard Law and White House Council for George W. Bush:
You don't become president of the Harvard Law Review, no matter how political, or how liberal the place is, by virtue of affirmative action, or by virtue of not being at the very top of your class in terms of legal ability. Barack was at the very top of his class in terms of legal ability. He had a first-class legal mind and, in my view, was selected to be president of the Review entirely on his merits.Did you even bother to check, Jack? Did anyone at the P-G bother?
I am guessing not.
Let's move on. Here's the big assumption on Jack's part:
Columnist Joe Klein said Mr. Obama's first autobiography "may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." But Mr. Obama got help writing "Dreams from My Father" from "his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers," celebrity journalist Christopher Andersen claimed in his 2009 biography of Barack and Michelle.Ah, we're back to the "Weather Underground Terrorist Ayers wrote Dreams of My Father" story. Doesn't anyone at the P-G keep track of Jack's conspiracy theories?
"The book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers' own writing," Mr. Andersen wrote.
Biographer David Maraniss published this month his interview with Genevieve Cook, who dated Mr. Obama in New York, but bears little resemblance to the "New York girlfriend" described in "Dreams." That's because she is a composite, Mr. Obama said.
Yet Mr. Obama's description closely resembles radical Diana Oughton, who was Mr. Ayers girlfriend and who blew herself to smithereens in 1970 while building a bomb intended to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, according to the blogger "Bookworm."
We saw this in 2009. It was wrong then and it's wrong now.
No matter, let's start at Bookworm and work our way backwards. Bookworm isn't actually presenting much new material, it's little more than a link to this article at The American Thinker.
Written, in 2010, by the now-debunked Jack Cashill. But let's take a closer look at the Ayer-girlfriend connection. This is what Cashill says:
More intriguing still, Obama seems to borrow the one girlfriend in the oddly sexless Dreams from Ayers' experience. "There was a woman in New York that I loved," he tells his half-sister years after the fact. "She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes."Look very carefully at what Cashill's saying. He's saying that the girlfriend in the Obama book isn't actually a girlfriend of Obama's. She's actually Diana Oughton - an old girlfriend of Bill Ayers.
The woman of Obama's memory evokes images of Diana Oughton. As her FBI files attest, Oughton had brown hair and green eyes. The two women shared similar family backgrounds as well. In fact, they seemed to have grown up on the very same estate.
"The house was very old, her grandfather's house," Obama writes of his girlfriend's country home. "He had inherited it from his grandfather." According to a Time Magazine article written soon after her death, Oughton "brought Bill Ayers and other radicals" to the family homestead in Dwight, Illinois. The main house on the Oughton estate, a 20-room Victorian mansion, was built by Oughton's father's grandfather.
The carriage house, in which Oughton lived as a child, now serves as a public library. It may have already seemed like one when Ayers visited, an impression that finds its way into Obama's memory of a library "filled with old books and pictures of the famous people [the grandfather] had known-presidents, diplomats, industrialists."
"It was autumn, beautiful, with woods all around us," Obama writes of his visit to his girlfriend's country home, "and we paddled a canoe across this round, icy lake full of small gold leaves that collected along the shore." As can be seen from aerial photos even today, the Oughton estate also has a small lake and is surrounded by woods.
This is the research Jack Kelly is using. In fact, Jack's actually misquoting his source. Cashill doubts her existence. Jack just uses Cashill's "research" to "prove" that Ayers ghost wrote Dreams.
But we know that the girfriend is actually real (if only a composite). From David Maranis at Vanity Fair we learn about Genevieve:
Much later, after the publication of his book Dreams from My Father, and after Barack Obama became famous, a curiosity arose about the mystery woman of his New York years. “There was a woman in New York that I loved,” he wrote. “She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was.”She was the woman with the family and the old house on the lake. She actually existed.
Obama did not name this old girlfriend even with a pseudonym—she was just “a woman” or “my friend.” That she remained publicly unidentified throughout his rise to national prominence became part of the intrigue of his New York period’s “dark years” narrative. His physical description was imprecise but close. Genevieve is five-seven, lithe and graceful, with auburn-tinged brown hair and flecks of brown, not green, in her hazel eyes. Her voice was confident and soothing. Like many characters in the memoir, he introduced her to advance a theme, another thread of thought in his musings about race.
Cashill is wrong. And if Cashill is wrong, then Jack is wrong.
Doesn't anyone care about this stuff at the P-G?