Taking a dig at outgoing President George W. Bush while lauding President-elect Obama as a man of letters, Associated Press writer Hillel Italie suggested that well-respected writers are welcoming the arrival of a "literary president-elect." Italie suggested that it was admiration of Obama's writing style and intelligence, not his liberal ideology, that pushed authors Toni Morrison, Ayelet Waldman, and novelist Michael Chabon into the Illinois Democrat's cheering section.
Yet Italie left out of his November 6 story how Morrison, Waldman and Chabon are reliable donors to the Democratic Party and left-wing groups and candidates like MoveOn.org and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.):
NEW YORK – Last winter, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison received a phone call from Sen. Barack Obama, then the underdog to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama had contacted Morrison to ask for her support. But before they got into politics, the author and the candidate had a little chat about literature.
"He began to talk to me about one of the books I had written, `Song of Solomon,' and how it had meant a lot to him," Morrison said in a postelection interview from her office at Princeton University, where for years she has taught creative writing.
"And I had read his first book (`Dreams From My Father'). I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase. I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography."
For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words — his own words.
Ayelet Waldman, whose novels include "Daughter's Keeper," is an Obama fan dating back to when both attended Harvard University. Her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, came to support him through "his writing, the quality of his prose," Waldman says. They in turn persuaded author and former Hillary Clinton supporter Rick Moody.
Yet a search of the campaign contribution database at OpenSecrets.org yields evidence that would suggest ideology and partisanship may be a strong factor in the authors' enthusiasm for Obama:
- Morrison donated $1,500 to the Democratic National Committee since July 2006, on top of $3,000 to Obama in 2008.
- Waldman gave $225 to MoveOn.org in September 2004, $2,000 to John Kerry's presidential campaign in May of that year, $250 to Howard Dean in March 2003, and $750 to pro-choice PAC EMILY's List between 1999 and 2001, to name a few liberal candidates and causes she's financed.
- Waldman's husband Chabon gave to Jim Webb ($250 in September 2006) and John Kerry's presidential campaign ($2000 in March 2004), among other liberal causes and candidates besides Obama.