There is plenty of reaction across the conservative blogosphere and beyond, to the reports that Bill Ayers has at least twice stated he wrote Dreams from My Father. Comments on our two most recent pieces have presented many interesting interpretations of Bill Ayers' motives and strategies, as have many bloggers.
Clarice Feldman notes that Steve Diamond, who broke the story about the Obama-Ayers relationship and their squandering of the Annenberg challenge millions, says this of the Ayers' comments about the authorshiop of Dreams:
I would only add that I have not ever seen Ayers, straight up, say "I did not write the book or have any role in the writing of the book and I confirm the NY Times story that I only first met Obama in the spring of 1995 after he was appointed by two other non-profits to run the new non-profit I founded, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge."
In other words, Ayers dissembles on these issues but does not outright lie. As far as I can tell all of his responses allow for the eventual admission that he did have a role in the book and of course a much deeper link to Obama than has been admitted to date.
I presume that he and Axelrod have crafted a strategy to let many of the facets of the relationship leak out and then die slowly well in advance of 2012. Thus, the carefully staged interview with The New Yorker the day of the election; the revelation that the Obamas were "family friends" of the Ayers family which appears in the new edition of Ayers' memoir published after the election; and now the Christopher Andersen book with two (unfortunately off the record) sources for his description of Ayers role in the drafting of Dreams.
Scott Johnson of Powerline remains skeptical of the idea that Ayers wrote Dreams:
... in my view, Cashill's textual evidence was thin. If in fact Ayers had a substantial hand in Dreams, I think the evidence would be stronger than what Cashill presented. Among other factors, Cashill pointed to the two books' adept use of nautical metaphors. Cashill found the "metaphoric thread" between the two books "just shy of conclusive."
Of course that single piece of the puzzle is accompanied by many other remarkable similarities in Cashill's analysis. Fair man that he is, Johnson gives space to other views, including this from Duncan Jaenicke:
I am a professional ghostwriter; of my 12 books, 8 of them were ghosted. I see you are being very careful to not make a hard-and-fast conclusion, based on Cashill alone, about who wrote Dreams.
Give it up. The question of writing style is not a speculative one; any person's writing style involved choice of vocabulary, grammar, style and even worldview. These things are even more individualized than, say, a speaker's voice. When faced w/ the blank screen, the mind reaches into its inner resources and works in almost a miraculous way to produce prose, copy, text.
Put another way, when you telephone your best friend, there is a chance that someone else will pick up the phone (if your pal is in the shower, say), but when your friend answers, you "know" immediately it is him. Apply this way of knowing to one's writing style, carefully studied. It's a sure thing.
Ron Radosh at Pajamas Media is worried about Andersen's credibility:
...when queried a bit later by Howard Kurtz, Andersen backtracked and denied that in his book, he had said that Ayers wrote it. I reread the passages in the book, and contrary to what he said to Kurtz, that is indeed precisely what he wrote. His denial to Kurtz, however, certainly makes it appear that Andersen is a bit worried that he has been caught in somewhat of a lie.
Looking at the first time that Ayers went on the record claiming authorship, the National Journal piece, He speculates:
this certainly sounds like a shtick that Ayers has decided to run with. If so, the man is both playing with fire and sounding more and more like he is rather desperate for attention, after his brief run-in with fame during the campaign has all but disappeared