Thursday, October 09, 2008

Return to the X-Files

Paul Campos states the obvious, at greater length than objectively should be needed: There are no grounds to question whether Sarah Palin is Trig Palin's mother. Continuing to ask such questions is unhinged. The McCain/Palin campaign is under no obligation to "respond" or "put to rest" these "allegations", any more than Barack Obama needed to give a press conference proving his place of birth, or a GPS-verified account of the relative proximity he had to William Ayers at all times over the past two decades. Folks who are keeping on this line of question, like Andrew Sullivan, need to knock it off. It's simply abysmal behavior.


Cycle Cyril said...

The issues of Trig's maternity and Obama's birthplace are non-issues.

The issue of Ayers however goes to the core of Obama's veracity and character. He has hid his relationship with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge and the Wood's Fund board.

Interestingly here's an article that suggests that Ayers may have ghost written "Dreams from my Father". You have to admit that virtually all politicians have their books written for them with few exceptions. And Obama's second book is not as well written as the first indicating to me two different authors or ghost writers.

PG said...

The only people I've seen who have even thought about the possibility that Trig is Bristol's rather than Sarah Palin's son have been guys, usually ones who are either young or without kids. In other words, people who haven't thought about the fact that a middle-aged woman like Gov. Palin is 50 times more likely to have a Down's baby than a teenager is.

Obama's second book is not as well written as the first

Sigh. "The Audacity of Hope" IS NOT A MEMOIR, as is recognized by reviewers and other people who have read it (or even its table of contents). It is a series of essays on political topics.

Comparing it to "Dreams from My Father" makes as much sense as comparing C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" to his later book "A Grief Observed." Same author, both nonfiction, but wholly different kinds of books; one is theoretical on topics of general interest, and the other a recounting of a difficult, highly personal experience -- so personal that Lewis originally published it under a false name and called Joy "Helen." I deliberately don't compare "A Grief Observed" to "The Problem of Pain," because then one could say that the former is practice, the latter theory, on the same topics. That analogy would work if "The Audacity of Hope" were solely about the themes tackled in "Dreams," i.e. race, family, community, etc., rather than being about a much broader range including foreign policy and free trade.

I know the guy at American Thinker is a hack from two lines:

One does not hear any of Dreams in Obama's casual speech.

Yes, one does. There is a great deal of both the joking references to his wife in his off-the-cuff talk (in Dreams he talks about her annoyance with black men's basketball obsession) and of the more high-flown rhetoric in work like his speech on race.

I change no names, create no composite characters, alter no chronologies. Most memoirs observe the same conventions.

Bullshit. I've never heard of Jack Cashill, but some of the actually-well-known memoirists of our time do this. Pat Conroy does exactly this in "Water Is Wide." Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" alters chronology. Scott Turow's "One L" changes names. (A wise move when you're writing about lawyers.) David Sedaris goes even further and has been accused of outright fiction. Madeline L'Engle's children labeled her Crosswicks Journals fiction. Even Elie Wiesel's "Night," possibly the most important memoir ever written about the Holocaust, doesn't live up to what Cashill claims are the norms of memoirs.

Cashill doesn't appear to know Obama's speaking or the memoir genre well enough to be analyzing Obama's work for signs of other authors.

PG said...

Also, Cashill ignores the one rhetorical tic that did stick out at me when I read "Dreams" -- Obama's pervasive use of the word "bitter." It's even on the back cover of the paperback version. Reading it in the context of "Dreams" makes clear that he does not use the word to disparage people so much as to try to explain what seems like hurtful behavior by them.

And this is just silly:
In 1997, Obama was an obscure state senator, a lawyer, and a law school instructor with one book under his belt that had debuted two years earlier to little acclaim.

Little acclaim? Compared to whom, Cashill? "Dreams" got positive reviews from the NYT Book Review, which many writers would give up at least a thumb joint (you can hold a pen and tap a space bar with the nub) to get. He also got praise from the LA Times book review.

Seriously, Cashill sounds like an envious hack. The biggest acclaim of his career has been a Mid-America regional market Emmy (56 categories among TV stations in
Missouri; Des Moines and Dubuque, Iowa; Little Rock, Ark.; Paducah,
Ky.; and Shreveport, La.). Which in his bios almost always is described simply as an "Emmy," like what Ken Burns reguarly picks up, rather than something for which a single Midwestern TV station will typically get literally a dozen nominations each year.

David Schraub said...

Envious hack? In the American Thinker? Say it ain't so!

I would have chalked up any differences between Audacity and Dreams to the far more pressing demands on Obama's time while writing the former -- but your explanation works too.

Andrew said...

On the Andrew Sullivan comment, while I cringe every time he mentions it, he seems to be doing it as a representative issue in order to demonstrate the complete informational wall around Palin. He could have chosen something else, sure, but it's not just the fact he seems to care about, but rather the whole point demonstrated by it.

PG said...

he seems to be doing it as a representative issue in order to demonstrate the complete informational wall around Palin.

No, this is just ridiculous.
1) Assuming someone's kid isn't really theirs is itself a pretty big factual claim. The onus is on the person making the claim to come up with evidence, not on the other side to refute it.
2) It is extremely unlikely on a statistical basis that 16-year-old Bristol Palin, rather than her 40something mother, had a Down's baby. That alone puts the preponderance of the evidence on the side of Gov. Palin birthing Trig. Sullivan himself had better be the one coming up with a birth certificate to refute the presumption in Gov. Palin's favor.

If Sullivan is trying to make some larger point, the particular example he picked has completely obscured it and also made all Obama supporters look like idiots. I found him an ass when his political positions opposed mine, and he's still an ass today.