Jack Cashill: insightful literary detective, pathbreaking Obama investigator, slob

(Question: Is the title of his entry too rude? See comment.)

Several times I have regrettfully pointed out that while Jack Cashill has made worthwhile contributions to our knowledge of Barack Obama, and deserves credit for demonstrating that William Ayers was very likely involved in the writing of Dreams From My Father, Cashill is also terribly careless as a writer and analyst and therefore his work must always be looked at doubtfully.

Now Cashill has done it again. He has an interesting piece today at American Thinker criticizing Janny Scott’s biography of Stanley Ann Dunham. His main point is that Scott treats vaguely or outright covers up the truth about Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann’s marriage, and particularly that she conceals the now established fact that Barack Sr. and Stanley Ann never lived together as a family with their child, since Stanley Ann moved to Seattle within two weeks of Obama Jr.’s birth on August 4, 1961 and by the time she returned to Hawaii in 1962 Obama Sr. has already departed for Harvard. The piece is a damning indictment of Scott, and also of Obama biographer David Remnick, who engages in similar concealments.

But then, on the subject of Barack Sr.’s and Stanley Anne’s still-indeterminate wedding, Cashill writes:

Scott adds nary a detail to an otherwise undocumented ceremony. Critically, too, she fails to comment on Ann Dunham’s whereabouts from the alleged wedding in February 1962 to Obama’s birth in August 1962. In so doing, Scott does not quiet the skepticism about Obama’s origins. She aggravates it.

Whoops. The alleged wedding was in February 1961. Obama Jr.’s birth was in August 1961. Try to imagine the disorder in Cashill’s mind that he, a supposed expert on Obama’s early biography who is writing articles about the subject all the time, made such a gross error and didn’t catch it before he sent it for publication to the editors of American Thinker, who also didn’t catch it before publishing it. It would be like a historian of the American Revolution saying that the Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1777 instead of July 1776, or like a historian of World War II saying that Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain in May 1941 instead of May 1940. You have to wonder, does Cashill even read his own work before submitting it for publication? His repeated unreliability is one of the reasons I’ve decided not to purchase his book on Obama, though I’ll try to get it out of the library.

By 8:40 a.m. Tuesday the mistake had been corrected. However, I saved a copy of the original, uncorrect article here. The offending paragraph appears about two thirds of the way down on the page.

Also, someone at American Thinker did catch the error after the piece was posted. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Cashill or the editors, but a reader:

Posted by: T.S.
May 10, 04:54 AM
Barack Obama was born in August, 1961, not 1962 (as stated in Mr. Cashill’s post).

Back to the substance of the issue, which is Scott’s and Remnick’s cover-ups of the facts of Obama’s origins, Cashill concludes the article thus:

After reading Remnick and Scott, the public has absolutely no idea whether Dunham married Obama Sr. and where Dunham spent the next seven months. The story the two reporters tell us about the first year of Obama’s life is conspicuously and consciously false.

And yet they and their pals get to mock us for the very act of asking questions about Obama’s birth! Someone please wake me and reassure me I am dreaming.

- end of initial entry -

Dan K. writes:

I think you are too hard on Cashill. Someone caught the error quickly and corrected it. It was probably akin to a typo.

Remember: even Homer nods.

A reader writes:

I used to proofread AT, and while I admire Thomas Lifson, AT is always riddled with the most obvious errors and double postings. No newspaper would put up with them.

LA writes:

When I call Jack Cashill a slob, I’m also thinking about the way he dresses. He gave a talk a couple of months ago about his book, it was broadcast on CSPAN. I believe it was in a nice venue in Boston or some such city, and he gave the speech wearing, not a suit and tie or even a sport jacket and tie, but a knit shirt opened at the collar, with a sport jacket over it. He looked like someone who has no respect for his audience or himself. And in my mind that matched the carelessness in his writing and thinking. Why should we respect his subject or him, if he conveys such a lack of respect for his subject and us?

One definition of slob I find online is a “slovenly, unattractive, and lazy person.” When I saw him give a public speech about his book dressed the way he was dressed, he did look slovenly, unattractive, and lazy. That he’s supposedly some kind of conservative, or at least writes at conservative publications, makes it worse.

Spencer Warren writes:

Permit me to say that I think you are much too hard on Cashill with regard to his dress.

I saw him on C-SPAN a couple of months ago (I think I sent you the link). He was speaking at a library in the Midwest, maybe a public library in Kansas City. It was an informal gathering and, given the general standards of dress today, there was nothing wrong in his attire. He did wear a sport coat.

As you write, there is, however, something very wrong with his professionalism. And thus his credibility.

LA replies:

It seems we’re talking about the same speech. This is a matter of taste, so we won’t agree. But in my view for a man to give public speech in a formal setting and not wear a jacket and tie is totally unacceptable. Also he was unkempt looking, even with the sport jacket over his knit shirt. It sent me the message that he doesn’t respect his audience or his subject. It made me decide not to buy his book.

Spencer Warren replies:

He was a bit unkempt, but I didn’t think much of it. Though I understand how you look at it. And in his case it does reflect the carelessness which resulted in his pathetic “typo.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 10, 2011 09:52 AM | Send

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