Saturday, August 16, 2008

Obama And The Rightwing Smear Machine

I have always been and remain very much against book burning. However, I am not so sure anymore, with respect to authors of trash like this book. These kinds of antics won't stop until there are consequences for the spewers of lies, and half-truths which are simply more sophisticated lies.

Perhaps the liable laws should be changed so that politicians can sue the pants off authors who deliberately lie about a candidate for the express purpose of misinforming voters. Perhaps, we, the voters, should be allowed to file class action suits against liars who attempt to mislead us. This isn't just about candidates, this is about Democracy itself, which cannot exist without an informed electorate. Misinformation, like that put forth as fact by the likes of the Swift boat of fools, is more dangerous to this nation than Osama bin Laden could dream of being, even in his wildest dreams.

These kinds of "authors" might want to understand that in these days of the information age, they aren't all that difficult to find and punish as enemies of Democracy.

While I am a big defender of the first amendment, it does have its limits. For example, try yelling fire in a crowded theater, just for the heck of it, and see what happens. Try calling in a bomb threat where there is no bomb and see what happens. (Not encouraging anyone to actually do such things, but most people with more than three neurons firing know perfectly well that these types of speech are not covered by the 1st amendment.)

Intentionally misinforming the electorate in a supposed Democracy is every bit as dangerous to every citizen.

This Corsi guy needs to be taken down and shown for the paranoid, misinforming, malicious nut case that he is.

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, August 15, 2008; A21

Here come the goons, right on schedule.

The "author," and I use the term loosely, whose vicious lies damaged John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign has crawled back out from under his rock to spew vicious lies about Barack Obama. Right-wing radio talk-show hosts are dutifully transmitting this concocted venom. This presidential campaign has officially gotten ugly.

The "author" I'm talking about is a man named Jerome Corsi. In a book published last year, "The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada," Corsi claimed that George W. Bush was at the heart of a secret conspiracy to subsume the United States into a post-national, one-worldish North American Union. Corsi's writings on far-right blogs have been even more paranoid and delusional. He has written that pedophilia, for which he used a more graphic term, "is OK with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press." He has referred to Muslims as "ragheads."

Corsi would be known as just another visitor from the outer fringe if he had not been the co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book that slimed Kerry's exemplary record as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. The allegations in that book were discredited, but not before they had been amplified by the right-wing echo chamber to the point where they raised questions in some voters' minds -- perhaps enough to swing the election.

It was an abominable trick, but quite remarkable. Kerry's opponent, George W. Bush, had avoided Vietnam by taking refuge in the Texas Air National Guard. Kerry was a decorated war hero, yet somehow his valor and sense of duty were turned into a political negative and used against him.

Now Corsi, in what he acknowledges is an attempt "to keep Obama from getting elected," has come out with a book that similarly tries to turn one of Obama's strengths -- his compelling life story -- into a liability.

Corsi's new volume of vitriol, "The Obama Nation," seeks to smear Obama as a "leftist" and add fuel to the false and discredited rumor that he is secretly a radical Muslim, or at least has "extensive connections to Islam." The liberal Web site Media Matters has already demonstrated that the book is riddled with factual errors -- for example, Corsi repeats the charge, thoroughly disproved, that Obama was in church for one of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's most incendiary sermons. But the point isn't to tell the truth. The point is to repeat the lie and thus give it new life.

Corsi's dirty work is more difficult this time because Obama has already written his life story in the autobiographical "Dreams From My Father." Since he can't reveal anything about Obama's past, Corsi is reduced to reinterpretation -- or, at times, invention.

It sounds like the kind of book that should quickly be consigned to the remainder bin, but -- unsurprisingly -- it is already a bestseller. The Post and other news organizations have noted that this and similar anti-Obama books win the imprimatur of best-seller status by being "pushed by conservative book clubs that buy in bulk to drive up sales."

This time, though, somebody is pushing back: John Kerry, whose political action committee has launched a new Web site, called Truth Fights Back, to "fight against the right-wing smear machine." The site weighs in vigorously on behalf of several Democrats who are being hit with unfair attacks, but its most urgent campaign is "making sure Jerome Corsi doesn't get away with his lies unchallenged."

The Obama campaign faces a classic dilemma. If smear attacks are left unanswered, voters can get the impression that the lies are true. But there's no way to respond without giving the falsehoods wider circulation.

For Obama, this choice seems doubly fraught. Just look at the way John McCain's campaign jumped all over Obama when he predicted -- correctly, it turns out -- that Republicans would try to scare voters by making him seem alien and somehow frightening. His observation about not looking like previous presidents was opportunistically slammed by McCain and his surrogates as playing "the race card."

Yesterday, the Obama campaign released a lengthy rebuttal of Corsi's book. The vacationing candidate himself remained silent, leaving it to others, such as Kerry, to give a more full-throated response. Kerry knows better than anyone what it feels like to be Swift-boated, and he's determined not to let it happen to anyone else.

Thank You, Senator Kerry. Unfortunately, some of our fellow citizens are such knee-jerk, right-wing extremist they will believe anything and spread known lies, thus making independents and moderates have doubts about the target of any such hit piece.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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