Around this time in 2004, we all learned, via the book Unfit for Command and commercials by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that Democratic candidate John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, was actually a liar, a traitor, and maybe fought for the Vietcong. Now the author of that book, Jerome Corsi, is back with an anti-Obama tome, The Obama Nation, which, among other things, posits that Obama may still be doing drugs. And apparently, the market for this “piece of scholarship,” as its publisher, GOP operative Mary Matalin calls it, is huge. Obama Nation will hit number one on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list this Sunday. Which, according to many, is both depressing and possibly problematic for Obama.
• Eli Saslow says Corsi’s book is the “most damning in his portrait of” Obama than any other anti-Obama book. Corsi admits that the purpose of the book “is to keep Obama from getting elected.” [WP]
• Joe Klein laments that “[b]ack in the day, John McCain was the sort of politician who would stand first in line to call out this sort of swill.” And, in fact, the McCain-sanctioned claim that Obama doesn’t “put his country first” is smear just like Corsi’s and just like the ones that brought down McCain in 2000. [Swampland/Time]
• David Corn thinks the problem with the mainstream media is its “inability to call plainly a lie a lie. Or a liar a liar.” Instead of reporting the lies of the book, the New York Times “took the easy path” by focusing on the controversy over the book and not whether it’s claims were true. [CQ Politics]
• Matthew Yglesias thinks that “smear artists” are taking advantage of “structural flaws in the elite media” that lead it to take a balanced viewpoint no matter what. He hopes “others in the press catch on” to Klein’s attitude. [Think Progress]
• David Paul Kuhn reports that Kerry and his former advisers believe Obama must immediately push back hard against Corsi’s smears to avoid the damage that befell Kerry’s campaign in 2004. Obama is better equipped to respond because he does not have financial limitations and has incorporated Kerry veterans into his campaign. [Politico]
• Byron York doesn’t think this book will have the same impact as Unfit for Command, because this time it’s not backed up by, for example, “several of the ministers who worked with Obama in the 1980s who say he is unfit for office,” as the swift-boat veterans backed up the anti-Kerry stories. [Corner/National Review]
• Timothy Noah wonders what a “professional propagandist” like Mary Matalin is doing running a publishing imprint anyway and whether “‘conservative’ publishing…aspires even to the standards of the nonideological (or what conservatives call the ‘liberal’) publishing establishment.” [Slate]
• Jennifer Rubin claims that while “inaccuracies or exaggerations in these latest accounts” are “fair game,” it’s “inexcusable…that the mainstream media itself has done such a putrid job of exploring Obama’s roots.” To assume that Obama’s “fictionalized” and “self-congratulatory narrative” is all the information it needs is wrong, and they should vet Obama just as “they have for every other candidate in recent memory.” [Contentions/Commentary]
• Andrew Romano writes that because “many voters have already shown a willingness to believe the worst about the unfamiliar Obama…[a book] that purports to prove each of these easily disprovable claims is something of an inconvenience for the Illinois senator.” Whether to respond to the smears and risk publicizing them is “the classic Catch-22 of presidential campaigning.” [Stumper/Newsweek]
• Mike Madden muses that the “book has already had more holes shot through it than one of Dick Cheney’s hunting partners.” Although less known than his Kerry book, Corsi “has also written or co-written books saying U.S. officials plan to merge the country with Canada and Mexico and that oil is neither a fossil fuel nor a finite resource.” [War Room/Salon]
• Media Matters fact-checks the book, and it isn’t pretty. [Media Matters] —Dan Amira
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.