The premise of Jack Cashill's new book, Deconstructing Obama, published by Simon & Schuster, is that President Obama's entire life is one massive fraud, as demonstrated (Cashill claims) by the fact that Obama almost certainly did not write the two memoirs that eloquently and movingly retell the president's life story. And I have to admit that Cashill's skepticism is contagious -- having read Deconstructing Obama, I find myself wondering whether it was written by Jack Cashill, or a sophisticated computer program meant to simulate the effects of low oxygen levels on the brain.
I've never encountered anything -- on the left or the right -- so aggressively stupid, so terminally self-unaware, so pathetically festooned with self-aggrandizing tripe as Deconstructing Obama. When not retreading the already well-worn ground of Obama's "radical" associates, Cashill describes at length his own journalistic expertise and gift for literary analysis -- praise that he unwittingly steps on when recounting his amateurish and nonsensical attempts at "detective work" into Obama's books and past. (At one point, Cashill faults his critics for not acknowledging "my frequent caveats about the limits of my knowledge.")
More than anything else, Deconstructing Obama is a bizarre book. It's a frayed string of conspiracy theories that loops and knots itself into a tangled mess. It's a disjointed harangue in which chapters seem to repeat themselves and an entire section is inexplicably devoted to Sarah Palin's "perseverance in the face of resistance." It's an intellectually and morally offensive screed in which 19-year-old Barack Obama's poetry serves as the launching point for an outlandish theory about Obama's grandfather bribing Barack Obama Sr. to pose as the future president's father. (Cashill's candidates for Obama's "real" father include Malcolm X and Jimi Hendrix.)
Simon & Schuster is drawing fire for using a video to promote a new book that includes the address for a website raising money for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The book, Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, is authored by GOP Reps. Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy each of whom are prominently featured on the website as well. The book is being published under Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster's conservative imprint helmed by Mary Matalin, a former assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Politico reports this afternoon that the "Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's attorneys sent Simon & Schuster a letter Thursday, hinting that the publisher may have violated several campaign finance laws that prohibit in-kind contributions by corporations by posting on its website a promotional video for a book penned by three top House Republicans."