Friday, August 15, 2008

Swiftboating Jerome Corsi

How should conservatives react to Jerome Corsi, who has just released a sharp attack on Barack Obama in his new book, The Obama Nation?

Peter Wehner, a former member of the Bush administration's Office of Strategic Initiatives, makes the case
against Corsi at Commentary:

Corsi’s approach to politics is both destructive and self-destructive. If Senator Obama loses, he should lose on the merits: his record in public life and his political philosophy. And while it’s legitimate to take into account Obama’s past associations with people like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright–especially for someone like Obama, about whom relatively little is known–it wrong and reckless to throw out unsubstantiated charges and smears against Senator Obama.

Conservatism has been an intellectual home to people like Burke and Buckley. The GOP is the party that gave us Lincoln and Reagan. It seems to me that its leaders ought to make it clear that they find what Dr. Corsi is doing to be both wrong and repellent. To have their movement and their party associated with such a figure would be a terrible thing and it will only help the cause of those who hold both the GOP and the conservative movement in contempt.
Wehner's one of my favorite conservative writers, but I think he's too quick to throw Corsi under the bus here.

I'm about a third of the way through The Obama Nation, and so far I've found the book to be interestingly fast-paced.

But Corsi's been in the news all this week, with stories attacking him at the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among other mainstream outlets, so I'm well-familiar with the author's past associations with the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, as well as some of the other allegations of Corsi's tin-foil hat extremism.

The attacks are disproportionate and misplaced. Much of what Corsi examines in-depth has been in the news for months, like
Obama's false claim that he owes his life as an American to President John F. Kennedy. Indeed, Corsi has by now himself become as much an object of smears as has Barack Obama, as Mark Levin argues:

If you read the criticism of the Jerome Corsi book that is picking up speed in the liberal media, you will find much similarity and overlap. The Obama campaign's effort to feed talking points to the media is having some effect. However, it is also feeding curiosity about the author and the book, thereby helping to maintain strong sales.

It's too bad the same media that are so concerned about Corsi's background have been so reticent to do their own homework on Obama. After all, Corsi wrote a book, Obama seeks the presidency. The liberal media were slow to acknowledge the existence of Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, and did so only after talk radio and bloggers would not let Obama escape his close relationship with both. The Chicago media did most of the heavy lifting respecting Obama's relationship with Tony Rezko. And there are many other miscreants and radicals who have played large roles in Obama's personal and professional life. But the liberal media are not interested in looking into most of it, have begrudgingly and superficially addressed it usually after the new media pressed it, and then downplayed it as "guilt by association" — with few exceptions. Not so with their reporting on Corsi. They want to know about anything he has ever said or written and his associations. In his case, they are determinative. And if he got a date wrong here and there in his book, or was otherwise mistaken in some minor way, the entirety of his book is discredited. We are "learning" more about Corsi than we learned about Obama prior to the all important Super Tuesday primaries.

It is not surprising that the media have chosen sides, but it remains frustrating. And this was a frustration of the Clinton campaign and will be for the McCain campaign. Meanwhile, the New York Times had no second thoughts about smearing John McCain on its front page with the thinnest of accusations inferring an affair and unethical lobbying activity. I think it can be said with some confidence that Corsi's standards are superior to those of the Times.

I think Roger Kimball has it about right
here. And it should be emphasized that David Freddoso's excellent book on Obama has been all but ignored by the liberal media, but is well worth purchasing.
For more along these lines, see "Obama Goes Ballistic Over Corsi Best-Seller."

Also, Douglas Gibbs, who blogs at
Political Pistachio, will be hosting Corsi for an interview tonight on his blog-talk radio program, Political Pistachio Radio. For Douglas' blog entry, see "Obama Nation Book by Jerome Corsi Draws Criticism - Corsi is my guest tonight on BTR."

The left has gone
over the top in denouncing Corsi, so it sounds like a pretty good show.