‘Just a guy in my neighborhood’

Bill Ayers? Oh, you must mean the guy whose book Barack Obama favorably reviewed in 1997. The guy whom he joined in a University of Chicago panel discussion organized by Michelle Obama. The guy with whom he shared an office for three years.

Don’t you dare imply that they actually knew each other, you racist.

UPDATE: See-Dubya actually shows us pages from Ayers’ book, which is ostensibly about the juvenile justice system, but seems to contain a lot of self-absorbed writerly crap about Ayers’ neighborhood:

Once a summer colony, Hyde Park today is dominated by the University of Chicago. . . .
To my right the lake, a shimmering sea of blues and greens . . . .

WTF? Is this a policy book about juvenile justice or a travel magazine feature? How do liberal writers get away with this kind of bait-and-switch? Do the publishers simply not care that the manuscript is padded out with personal stuff that has nothing to do with the subject of the book?

Stepping outside into the cool October night, I pondered these questions. There aren’t any streetlights near my home on the heavily wooded western slope of South Mountain, so the stars stand out brightly in the midnight sky. The silver orb of a full moon hung low near the eastern horizon, half visible through the remaining leaves on the towering hickory and oak trees. Brilliant orange and yellow in the daylight, the leaves are just shadows in the moonlight now. I stepped up from the basement door into the backyard and lit a Marlboro — and just then heard the crashing sound of a startled deer scampering into the surrounding woods.

See? Writing that kind of fancy descriptive stuff is the easiest thing in the world. Writing about one’s own personal life requires no research, no footnotes, and it has no business in a book that’s supposed to be about public policy. Ayers was defrauding his readers, and his publisher let him get away with it, just like Barack Obama’s publisher, who paid him to write a policy-oriented book about race relations and instead got a memoir — a freaking memoir!

UPDATE II: The Bill Ayers Method of padding out a public policy book with what amounts to personal journal entries is something I might have to adapt for my book on the 2008 election:

When I got up from the computer and went to the kitchen to refill my glass of iced tea, one of our cats was next to the door, waiting for me to let him out. I opened the door and the gray shadow slipped quickly out into the night. As I walked back toward my office, I passed the den where my sons Jefferson and Emerson were sleeping on the sofa, bathed in the blue glow of the TV. They’d fallen asleep watching a movie, and now were dozing together under the blanket, with our mutt Samson asleep on the floor close by.

Alas, I’m not a famous terrorist-turned-professor or a half-Kenyan Harvard Law student, so no one will pay me to write banal crap like that.

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