Patterico's Pontifications


Corsi and ‘Obama Nation’

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I don’t plan to read Jerome Corsi’s book Obama Nation so the closest I may come is reading this response from ABC News’ Jake Tapper.

The good news for the Obama campaign is that Tapper describes much of Corsi’s book as “demonstrably false, irresponsible, and feverishly conjured” and “indefensible.” The bad news is Tapper notes several “greedy” overstatements in the Obama campaign’ rebuttal:

Tapper says Corsi is anything but an apologist for the “Bush/Cheney Attack Machine,” as the Obama campaign labels him, and that it’s “not fair to blame [Corsi’s] nasty screed on the President.”

Tapper claims the Obama campaign is wrong to label as a “LIE” Corsi’s allegation that, when Obama ran for state senator, “(i)nstead of stepping aside in deference to (then-state senator Alice) Palmer, Obama decided to fight her for the nomination.” In fact, Tapper says, that’s true.

Tapper stated that, contrary to the claim of the Obama campaign, it was not “baseless” of Corsi to “to question why Obama was using [Gov. Deval] Patrick’s words as his own without crediting him.”

Tapper expresses doubts about the Obama response to Corsi’s claims regarding Obama adviser Air Force General Merrill ‘Tony’ McPeak (Ret.). According to Tapper, Corsi alleged McPeak holds anti-Israel views and the Obama campaign claimed Corsi described McPeak as anti-Semitic, a claim Tapper questioned.

In my opinion, Jerome Corsi had little to do with the ability of the Swift-Boat Veterans to raise doubts about John Kerry four years ago. The veterans’ detailed claims, the number of veterans who participated, Kerry’s inability to refute the claims and his unwillingness to release his military records, and Kerry’s own inflammatory and questionable rhetoric as a war protester and Senator (“seared, seared”) made the Swift-Boat claims effective.

Nevertheless, it’s clear the Obama campaign sees Corsi’s book as a threat and has responded aggressively. That may be good politics but it makes me more uneasy with the campaign’s weak response to Obama’s associations with people like Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.

I don’t blame the Obama campaign for targeting Corsi and his book but they won’t succeed solely by refocusing the story on Corsi. The story is Barack Obama and he will always be open to attacks like Corsi’s until he defines himself.

Barack Obama is a cipher. He’s spent his whole life being all things to all people and now he’s doing it on a national scale. If Obama can’t define himself – and so far he hasn’t – there will be plenty of people like Corsi who will be happy to do it for him.


35 Responses to “Corsi and ‘Obama Nation’”

  1. Barack Obama is a cipher

    I agree. 🙂 I’ve described him before as a Rorsharch test: people see in him what they want to see in him. This seems to be true of most of his supporters and opponents both.

    aphrael (12fba5)

  2. Aphrael,

    It delights me how often you and I agree, and I think there are many more like us out there. It’s one of the many reasons I have so much faith in our nation and our future.

    DRJ (a5243f)

  3. What’s unfortunate about Corsi is that a lot of Republicans will buy his book and attempt to defend him. He is utterly indefensible. I’m sure some of his charges against Obama are true, but that doesn’t matter much when he’s such a sleazeball.

    I’m pretty sure Obama’s campaign is focusing on Corsi and not more credible attackers because they know that our media will be able to define Corsi as a complete sleaze, and then other attackers can be reduced to ‘followers of Corsi’s argument’. I don’t blame them. If Osama Bin Laden said that ANWR was a bad place to drill, I’m sure the GOP would focus on debating him, instead of Pelosi.

    Obama isn’t the only guy trying to be as vague as possible in order to please anyone with enough imaginition to assume Obama is on their side of whatever issue… the thing with Obama is that he has nearly no record at all, and spent most of his record voting ‘present’… so he has no experience to be consistent with. We just don’t really know anything about this guy, except that he really doesn’t seem to care much about any side of any policy.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  4. Corsi is the Kitty Kelly of political writers, so I have a hard time believing any of his mischaracterizations will have staying power. But as you pointed out, Obama often comes off as an empty vessel for much of his adult life, willing to allow any and all manner of bizarre personalities into his inner circle of advisors and mentors. That is part and parcel why this campaign remains close – those on the fence have many reservations about him in this arena, while no one has any doubt about what McCain is all about.

    Dmac (874677)

  5. Over at HughHewitt, the Corsi book is not being pushed (just thought to be a little over-the-top), the emphasis is on David Freddoso’s new tome: The Case Against Barack Obama.
    Though, you have to think that there is something there (in Corsi) what with the vehemence that the Obamatrons have jumped on it.
    Let’s face it, the MSM just never vetted this guy before they climbed onto the bus.
    Now, they have to do everything in their power to keep from falling under the wheels.

    Another Drew (c3bf7a)

  6. Now we will find that the MSM will spend all their time digging into Jerome Corsi’s history and background in order to discredit him, something he, himself, has helped along. But if the media had spent as much time digging into the history and background of Obama as they will into Corsi, this could have been a very different election.

    My guestion is; what is the Obama campaign so paranoid about? How many books have been written about other politicians and the politician has come out with a 41 page rebuttal within day? How many less than flattering books have been written about our current president? Did he release any 41 pages of rebuttal to them?

    The Obama campaign is trying to point out that Corsi’s work is bogus and wrong, due to mistakes in the book. Yet, in the Obama rebuttal Unfit to Publish, that is to refute Corsi, on page 30 it refers to Bob Beckel as a Republican strategist. This would be the same Bob Beckel that ran Walter Mondale’s campaign, the same Bob Beckel that called Tennessee GOPers “racist crackers”, the same Bob Beckel that helped design the Democratic caucus system to prevent Jesse Jackson from getting on state ballots (something Beckel has admitted to and now says it was wrong).

    It would seem that the factcheckers are not factchecking Obama’s factcheckers. Again, the fawning, kneepad wearing media will fall down on their job.

    Corsi’s book has created problems for the Obama campaign, and even if it is half wrong (I don’t know, I haven’t read it) that makes it half right and anything that brings attention to the least vetted candidate, with the least experience, in 100 years, is a good thing.

    retire05 (17a8c4)

  7. Is Corsi as bad as David Suskind?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  8. From Juan #3 – We just don’t really know anything about this guy, except that he really doesn’t seem to care much about any side of any policy.

    Agreed, which is why I hate to disagree with DRJ, in that Obama’s course of action is not just ambiguity, which would make him a cipher, but purposeful ambiguity, which makes him calculated.

    Over this election cycle we’ve seen the Obama campaign start with empty platitudes, and as the timeline to election progressed, attempts at actual policy statements. Each time specifics were offered there’s been a corresponding retreat away from the specifics, often couched inside a semantic argument over the interpretation of the statements. Pakistan, Drilling, Taxes, Federal Campaign funds, Social Security, 2nd Amendment, etc. – all initial ‘meanings’ have been re-worked post-statemtent to effectively eliminate any real substance in the original policy position.

    When a politician doesn’t seem to stand for anything, it’s an indication that the politician only stands for their self-interest.

    You’d better ‘Believe in’ that change, because factual proof of change isn’t forthcoming.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  9. What’s unfortunate about Corsi is that a lot of Republicans will buy his book and attempt to defend him. He is utterly indefensible. I’m sure some of his charges against Obama are true, but that doesn’t matter much when he’s such a sleazeball.

    I’m about 1/3 of the way into Corsi’s book and wonder what all the fuss is about. He has about 500 footnotes, no doubt anticipating the criticism. So far, it has been discussion of Obama’s background. He does slip in a zinger once in a while but the section I am reading now, Obama’s history with the politics of Kenya, is pretty interesting. I have a former student who is Kenyan and I will try to contact her about the story if I can.

    After I finish the Corsi book I will compare it with the rebuttals. I have a feeling that his errors will be minor and his tone, which at times is over the top, will be the only issue. Book are books and these personal attacks on Corsi just whet my interest in the book.

    Mike K (155601)

  10. I am about halfway through David Freddoso’s book, The Case Against Barrack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamained Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. Incidentally, Freddoso has none of Jerome Corsi’s nutty intellectual baggage.

    Tim Rutten publishes a review of sorts of Corsi’s book in the Dog Trainer. It is typical of MSM approach to books about Obama. It ignores the book’s theme, focuses on factual errors, real and imagined, attacks the author, and relies on David Brock’s Soros funded Media Matters without discussing Brock or Soros.

    Do yourself a favor. Read the Freddoso book and forget about Corsi.

    Stu707 (6e4ad5)

  11. There are serious, reasoned, well thought-out objections to be made to Barack Obama’s candidacy. Corsi offers none of them. This “He’s got fottnotes!” scam is the publishing equivalent of Three Card Monte.

    Let’s get back to dealing what what Obama has actaully said and done and discuss it on a rational basis.

    David Ehrenstein (699cff)

  12. I’ve described him before as a Rorsharch [sic] test.

    — Can you picture Obama’s silhouette as a Rorschach test? 9 out of 10 people will say that they see Dumbo (or M-i-c–k-e-y).

    Icy Truth (784175)

  13. Its pretty hilarious that the Obama campaign’s defense against the book is based on its errors, and their own defense is filled with errors and non sequiturs.

    If Corsi is so bad, it is hilarious that he still makes so many hits.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. DRJ you talk about “attacks like Corsi’s” when you admit you have no idea what you are talking about. The content of Corsi’s book don’t at all track the talking points you echo from the left leaning press corp, who’ve borrrowed these talking points in turn directly from Obama & Media Matters. So the thing I’d recommend is that you don’t pass around leftist talking points on subject your are clearly ignorant about.

    It should also be noted that Jack Tapper in this campaign has proven himself less reliable and at least as partisan as Jerome Corsi on the topic of the Presidential candidates. And Corsi has told us much more about Obama that is true and documented than Tapper ever presented to his own readers. The score isn’t even close.

    My take on Obama Nation can be found here:

    PrestoPundit (ff5e16)

  15. PrestoPundit,

    I’m glad you’ve reviewed Corsi’s book, and I’m happy for people to read your review and Corsi’s book if they want. I don’t plan to read his book and I wouldn’t think of expressing an opinion on it without reading it. I hope I made it clear that the opinions expressed in the post were Jake Tapper’s views of Corsi and his book. If I didn’t make that clear, thanks for letting me do that now.

    DRJ (a5243f)

  16. That was more polite than I’d be, DRJ.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  17. I haven’t reviewed Corsi’s book yet, and will do so only if I have the time to do it justice, which evidently is something no one else has cared to do either. Hatchet jobs are more fun.

    PrestoPundit (ff5e16)

  18. Amusing, PrestoPundit, since you didn’t bother to read DRJ’s post enough to comment on it either.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. My take on Obama Nation can be found here:

    I haven’t reviewed Corsi’s book yet,

    Greg – OK, a take is different than a review I guess. You come over here insulting the poster and soliciting people to take a look at your blog on the specific subject and then say it’s not really a review. WTF!

    Only one commenter above makes a reference to reading the book and describes his progress in it. None of the other comments can be interpreted as having read it so I take it you are refering to people outside of this blog.

    Nice entrance tonight.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  20. ~17 PrestoPundit:

    Hatchet jobs are more fun.

    Okay, you lost me. Was that comment intentionally a non sequitur or is there some subtle relationship to the post that eludes me?

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  21. You thought so, daleyrocks? I thought it was a pratfall.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  22. For the record, I have read neither of the books, nor do I intend to, since a pack of wild hyenas couldn’t get me to vote for The One; so, why would I need to convince, or dissuade, myself?

    Another Drew (c3bf7a)

  23. SPQR #21:

    I thought it was a pratfall.

    Isn’t there usually some humor associated with a pratfall?

    But I guess they are generally pretty graceless, so maybe that’s an apt descrcription.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  24. EW1(SG), I stand corrected.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. Oh, no correction~I think a graceless entrance is indeed a pratfall.

    I was just hoping there was some humor involved that I missed…

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  26. I just thought he was being a flat out dickhead. He whored traffic for his blog post on the book and then turned around and claimed it wasn’t a review. What a putz.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  27. #14

    So the thing I’d recommend is that you don’t pass around leftist talking points on subject your are clearly ignorant about.

    PrestoPundit seems you’ve come here to crack the whip and through intimidation and bullying, see to it that “the troops stay in line” with your view of the world.

    DRJ’s job is to present issues for debate and put forth the different sides of an issue to get a discussion going. Period. She’s not here to please any side of the political spectrum. You can disagree or agree with her and the people here, but for you to make any recommendations as to what she can and can’t talk about is ludicrous and insulting.

    Your arrogance and heavy handedness does great harm to your POV sir.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  28. Clearly, the book’s an Obamanation.

    Ropelight (42c46d)

  29. I tend to get interested in books that have furious attacks against them. I read and submitted a review on a book about Mugabe, for example. I downloaded the Obama attacks on the Corsi book and, when I finish it and before I write my Amazon review, I’ll compare them. So far, and I’m more than half way, the Corsi book seems to do a lot of quoting from Obama’s own books and from the mainstream press. The attacks I’ve seen are either personal on Corsi or using sledgehammers on mosquitoes. Now that I’ve read the Corsi book, or will have soon, I may read Obama’s biography. The Rezko stories in Corsi’s book would seem to be the most inflammatory but they are also well documented.

    Mike K (155601)

  30. Obama supports a total handgun ban.

    Obama stood up for illegal aliens.

    Obama defended infanticide.

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  31. Mike K,

    If you review Corsi’s book would you consider posting it here or linking to it?

    DRJ (a5243f)

  32. I submitted my review to Amazon and we’ll see how long it takes to appear. I also downloaded the Obama rebuttal document and compared them. They do catch Corsi in a few errors that don’t affect the value of the book. For example, the first “lie” is that Corsi says Obama, in his chapter about Indonesia, doesn’t mention the birth of his half sister Maya. In fact, that is an error but the mention is three words in the middle of a sentence. They also call a “lie” Corsi’s statement that Obama’s grandmother had a good job as a bank VP in Hawaii and “could be described as well-off, if not wealthy.” In fact, what Corsi says is that they could have been well off if they had not spent $17,000 a year on tuition to Hawaii’s elite Punahau school. I went through some more and finally decided that the errors were trivial or did not exist and the Obama pdf file twists the truth about half the time.

    I’ll post it when it appears.

    Mike K (155601)

  33. My Amazon review of Corsi’s book is finally up after three days and already has a nasty comment. If anybody is still interested. The editing is sloppy in the book but the serious stuff is worthwhile. Note the commenter says nobody is interested in Rezko. That’s because they don’t know abut him yet.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  34. Mike K,

    Would you mind if I do a separate post on your review?

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  35. No, I don’t mind. There is a low level guerrilla war going on in the comments to various reviews on Amazon. I am not a fan of Corsi and I bought the book on impulse because of the vicious campaign of spam reviews. Freddoso’s book is probably better but I don’t need to read both of them.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

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