Jack Cashill, the author who contends that Dreams From My Father was ghostwritten by none other than Bill Ayres, analyzes the text of a letter to the editor of the Harvard Law Record that Obama wrote back in 1990, when he was president of Harvard Law Review.
It’s pretty shocking—not for its content, but for its style. Cashill has done a good deal of analyzing of Obama’s prose, although there’s not been a whole lot of it available other than Obama’s two books. That last fact, in and of itself, would be odd for a writer, because writers tend to write a lot.
Cashill contends that, except for Obama’s books, the rest of Obama’s writing contains certain stylistic ticks that are telltale signs of his authorship. All writers have them. Hemingway wrote in short clipped sentences, Faulkner long convoluted ones. I, for example, overuse the parenthesis (and I like the comma).
One of Obama’s trademarks is that he’s an awkward writer who makes elementary mistakes with subject/verb agreement. The letter to the Harvard Law Record is no exception:
The response is classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged. In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.
“Since the merits of the Law Review’s selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues,” wrote Obama, “I’d like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works.”
If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that “merits … have.” Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone. He had vindicated Chen in his first ten words.
Although the letter is fewer than a thousand words long, Obama repeats the subject-predicate error at least two more times. In one sentence, he seemingly cannot make up his mind as to which verb option is correct so he tries both: “Approximately half of this first batch is chosen … the other half are selected … “
It gets worse; read the whole thing.
Why does it matter? I’m not one to say that a president has to be a good writer in order to be a good leader. But an unusual amount of Obama’s claim to qualification for the job rested, and still rests, on his superior intelligence, and many voters and pundits were drawn to him specifically because of the sensitivity and intelligence reflected in Dreams and to a much lesser extent Audacity. What do they make of the fact that little or nothing else he ever wrote demonstrates these traits, or even an ability to write at the level of an AP high school student?
Nada. It’s a case of the emperor having so few clothes that his subjects must look away lest they view his nakedness.