If You Loved Me You'd Smear Me

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Jonathan Martin, linking to a great story from the Washington Post about anti-Obama sentiment in Findlay, Ohio, makes a good point about the Obama Smearomachy.

For some, and I emphasize some, these smears are just cover to oppose a candidate who, for reasons of race, culture or both, they can't accept.  Whether or not the information is true is beside the point. An element of the electorate can't be bothered to discover what the facts are because it's easier to rationalize opposition on these "issues" than for reasons which, in the year 2008, aren't accepted in polite company.

This certainly seems to be the case with Findlay. It's the county seat of Hancock County and contains most of the population there. Could Obama be winning the town but for this campaign of smears? No. Obama only lost the county to Hillary Clinton by 14 points in the March 3 primary, but Bush clobbered Kerry there by 40 points. Most of these people were going to vote for McCain anyway; Obama's secret Allah worship or what have you is a convenient fiction. It reminds me of the way that Democrats I knew in Chicago in 2000 convinced themselves that Bush bottomed out on the Lovenstein Institute's IQ test.

Actually, I've been convinced for a little while now that the persistence of the Obama smears are a net positive for him. The strength of John McCain's brand among independents and liberals, and reporters, had a lot to do with the idea that he'd been cudgeled by low-down and filthy political smear merchants in 2000. Martin, again, explaining how that helped him this year in South Carolina:

Recognizing the national media's inclination to believe that dirty tricks and whispered smears were endemic to any Palmetto State contest, the McCain camp sought to play up a single letter sent to reporters in the state questioning the senator's time as a POW and the same predictable robocalls that had been launched by a pro-Huck outfit in every other primary state. The idea, of course, was to draw sympathy and embrace the role of victim a la 2000 when there were legitimate attacks in the state's primary.  But this time, McCain was the closest thing to an establishment candidate in the race and there simply was no underground smear effort.

Back to Obama: If he was really being waylaid by these smears, would he have a 60/33 favorable/unfavorable rating in RealClearPolitics' average of the polls? The ongoing "smear" story may just be inoculating him for when McCain/RNC negative ads start dropping in a few months.

Not that it's making the smears any less fun! I particularly enjoyed this blog's "investigative" work on Obama's birth certificate… the argument seems to be that Obama's campaign forged a Hawaii birth certificate with photoshop, since it's hard to see the embossed seal on the version Obama's campaign gave to bloggers and media. Why would the Clifford Irving in Obama's shop, given a chance to forge a perfect document, try to fade out the seal? Because they're so sneaky, I assume. (Anyone who's not a moron can see the seal by slightly darkening the image Obama's campaign released.)

Extra-curricular smear fun: The Mitch and Nan Show blog is dropping ACME anvils on con man and Obama accuser Larry Sinclair on a regular basis. I'm enjoying the newest round of stories, which involve Sinclair getting pwn3d by my hometown newspaper.

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  1. Dave Weigel is 13?

  2. Dave,

    You need to stop blogging about the existence of an Obama smear industry, because recognizing that one exists and how it operates tends to make its efforts less credible, as people will be more likely to recognize examples of the genre as such.

    Why can’t you talk about (insert currently-operative RNC narrative about Obama here)?

    Hey, every Weigel thread needs at least one of these comments, right?

  3. Who cares what they think of Obama? When in Findley, check out Revolver restaurant. Worthy of a city 50 times larger.

  4. I’d be happy to criticize Obama over his ideas and/or experience, if he had any of either.

  5. It reminds me of the way that Democrats I knew in Chicago in 2000 convinced themselves that Bush bottomed out on the Lovenstein Institute’s IQ test.

    Good point. I think conspiracy theories are just part of politics. I remember some of the rumors from the last two decades. First, the rumors said we refused to help Bosnia because it didn’t have oil like Kuwait did. Then when Clinton sent troops to Bosnia, the rumors said the he only helped because he wanted to build an oil pipe line there. When Bush sent troops to Iraq, rumors said it was a plot to bring cheap oil to America. When the oil price went up this year, rumors said the mission in Iraq was a plot to raise oil company profits by limiting supply. The smears about Obama are racist and wrong, but they are also riding the same forces the spread all conspiracies. The best response to the Muslim rumor has two parts. Start with, “What’s wrong with being Muslim?” Follow up with, “Besides, you’ve got to check your facts. He happens to be Christian.”

  6. I’m confused, Dave. Are you linking to Martin/WaPo because they have something relevant to say or because they’re guilty of ludicrous-on-its-face race-baiting?

    Most of these people were going to vote for McCain anyway

    Are the people of Findlay just self-deluded saps who, if only they could see the facts about Obama’s positions on Iraq, NAFTA and universal healthcare, would shed their subconscious desire to lynch him and jump over to the Blue team in a second? Or are they just conservatives who’ll vote for whatever doddering rocker jockey the GOP wheeled up to the podium?

    I’m not clear about what you’re trying to say.

  7. Ed, you could always point out his failure to sponsor Senate versions of H.R.5842 and H.R.5843 even though he admits to inhaling marijuana. There’s also his opposition to free trade during the rust belt primaries. He didn’t show much leadership during the immigration debate a couple years ago either. I want a cadidate who will legalize our drugs and our cross border interactions. At least McCain is halfway there. Barr is all the way on board.

  8. The fact that Barack Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim Marxist atheist favored by the mainstream media elite should be common knowledge by now.

  9. There are always at least two sides to every story.

    Delaware Newspaper Doing Damage Control For Delaware AG?

    Posted by Larry Sinclair on Sunday, June 29, 2008

    http://larrysinclair0926.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/delaware-newspaper-doing-damage-control-for-delaware-ag/

    In addition, I never paid for any stay at the Rodeway Inn with any Money Orders for one day much less for Three Weeks.

    Also, I was released on $5000 unsecured bond on Monday, June 23, 2008 after appearing before the New Castle County Superior Court.

    Read the whole thing.

  10. What Hugh Akston said.

    Also, what the WaPo calls “true” and “false” aren’t necessarily so. Call it ObamaLogic!

  11. I gotta say that aside from some bizarre internet rumors it’s quiet as far as political ads go.

  12. LoneWacko!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *shakes fist in air*

  13. Did you know that Obama impregnanted Britney Spears during therapy with Dr. Phil? I swear it’s true!

  14. Not only did he “impregnant” her (meaning: with an ant assisted by a nanny), he “impregnated” her!

    Obama has yet to say something of substance yet, much like many other politicians. I wonder why? Oh yeah! He’s a politician.

  15. Sisterrosetta – Sinclair’s documents don’t disprove the News Journal story, since he doesn’t produce anything that refutes it. Also, he’s awfully quick to claim that another powerful politician is out to silence him.

    The guy’s a crook and a fraud. Anyone who believes his garbage is asking to get conned.

  16. I’m not clear about what you’re trying to say.

    The people in this town are largely Republicans who never vote for Democratic presidential candidates, that’s all.

  17. Hugh, Obama’s NAFTA gaffe started many back and forth sound bites, which makes it difficult to find his original position. CNN has a video summary of one Obama speech (“Obama ready to debate McCain” posted: Feb 25, 2008) where he says he opposed NAFTA because it did not impose labor and environmental laws on participating countries. I’m not sure why Democrates think this would appeal to Ohio residents. Canada’s labor and environmental laws are stricter than America’s.

  18. I think these weird conspiracy theory type smears are really a form of ritual that people use to ego identify with a group. They certainly have a long history, in Presidential politics going back to Washington, and the content is always the same.

    The unifying aspect of all these smears is that the office holder or candidate is somebody other than who he appears or that he harbors a sinister secret agenda. For example, some argued that Washington was a French agent or that Lincoln had a secret Negro wife.

    I think that people fall for such ideas when they view the target as fundamentally alien to their experience. People invent monsters to inhabit the lacunae of their knowledge. People with little experience with elite urban culture or politics find it easy to imagine that Obama harbors secret loyalties. People with little knowledge of evangelical Christianity find it easy to believe that Bush believes he talks with God.

    People create for themselves both an illusion of the power granted by secret knowledge and create a bond with others of like mind. I don’t think we will see this phenomenon disappear anytime soon.

  19. Why is it the only Obama ‘smears’ I ever hear about are from his campaign and supporters? Really, the ole “people think obama is a muslim” smear is old and tired, we’ve heard about it, and yet I haven’t talked to one person who said “hey dude, did you know obama is a muslim?”. this is beyond lame, mostly because libs like to pretend that they don’t ‘smear’. Me thinks it’s just a sorry attempt to paint republicans as nasty little smear artists. go get a friggin tissue, isle 2.

  20. jtuf,

    NAFTA was just an example of something Obama has said recently. It’s inclusion was tangental to my point. Feel free to substitute any policy where Obama has a clear position. If you can find one.

  21. The word ‘lacunae’ inhabits the lacunae of my knowledge.

  22. Because the Obama campaign was successful in knocking down the “Muslim” emails, so that very few people believe them, that just shows that the Obama people are being whiners when they knock down smears, and by extension, that those smears don’t actually exist. Ergo, they should stop “whining” – i.e., working to knock down smears at they appear.

    Sure, that makes sense.

  23. Because the Obama campaign was successful in knocking down the “Muslim” emails, so that very few people believe them, that just shows that the Obama people are being whiners when they knock down smears, and by extension, that those smears don’t actually exist. Ergo, they should stop “whining” – i.e., working to knock down smears at they appear.

    In the universe of e-mails that smear Obama his people could have gone after the “Obama is space alien” ones. This is less of a case of “Obama stops misinformation” and more of a “hey lets spotlight some nobody lunatic saying bad things about me to garner sympathy”.

  24. sisterrosetta, LoneWacko, Frank…

    :::facepalm:::

  25. You see the same thing regarding HIV.

    After a massive public health campaign aimed at promoting safer sex headed off the predicted AIDS epidemic among straight people, a certain segment of right-wing political activists responded by shouting, “See? There is no AIDS epidemic! All of those safe sex seminars were a waste!”

  26. joe,

    Because the Obama campaign was successful in knocking down the “Muslim” emails, so that very few people believe them,…

    I doubt Obama’s team had anything to do with it for the simple reason that people who might believe the smear in the first place would not listen to denials coming from Obama. More likely, they respond to refutations coming from rightwing sources. The same phenomenon works the other way on the left. Leftist are more effective at refuting smears aimed at rightwing individuals than are defenders on the right.

    In either case, people who believe such things are often highly alienated from all mainstream political discourse. They don’t trust anything anybody says that contravenes their preconceptions. See 9/11 conspiracist for example.

  27. Why is it the only Obama ‘smears’ I ever hear about are from his campaign and supporters?

    Because people like yourself do not like hearing ugly truths and are too lazy to investigate it properly yourself. You could go to Youtube and search for “west virginia obama” which would get you several clips of people openly saying on camera the things that you think only Obama supporters repeat. But you probably won’t do that.

    Do you really think Obama’s strategy is to gain votes by going around essentially claiming “I am not a dogfucker” in an attempt to get sympathy votes?

  28. Shannon,

    I don’t buy it. My own momma forwarded me that “Muslim/Pledge of Allegiance” email. “I can’t believe no one has mentioned this in the campaign” she wrote.

    *Facepalm*

    Mainstream Democrat, just not too terribly savvy about teh internetz.

  29. pwn3d

    Is there anyone who read this and didn’t cringe?

  30. So I take it the whole bit about Obama being friends with the Weather Underground terrorists is just a nasty smear?

  31. joe,

    My own momma forwarded me that “Muslim/Pledge of Allegiance” email.

    Assuming your momma believed the mail, who would she accept a refutation from, you the lefty or me the rightist? Given that I disagree with Obama on many matters of policy, I make a more credible defender of him than you do.I also have relatives who forwarded such mails and I have successfully shot them down or directed them to rightwing sites that do likewise. Only the right can defend Obama and only the left can defend McCain.

    Quite frankly, one of the aspects of such smears is that the target has no means of proving the smear false. How exactly does Obama prove he is not a secret muslim? He can’t. Such information is impossible to provide.

    I think it a big mistake for the candidates to address these smears directly because they risk creating a “meta-discussion” which spreads the idea. A lot of people will assume that because people are talking about the idea, it must have some validity i.e. where there’s smoke there’s fire.

  32. Wah, wah, wah, Obama fans. If you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.

  33. This certainly seems to be the case with Findlay.

    When the closest thing to civilization is Toledo, you know you’re fucked.

  34. Actually, I’ve been convinced for a little while now that the persistence of the Obama smears are a net positive for him.

    I’m sure Barry welcomes the smears. He gets to play the victim and it takes attention off the fact that he’s a flip-flopping, Marxist shitbag.

    Anyways, Bob Barr had a busy weekend. The GQ interview was entertaining, if only because GQ’s Will S. Hylton is a fucking idiot and Barr got a chance to take him to school:

    And this is a democracy, and the government should do what they want.
    It’s not a democracy. We have certain principles. The government exists to provide very limited functions-for example, free commerce.

    The government exists to do whatever people want it to do.
    Part of the problem is that we no longer have a truly educated public. The Founding Fathers lived in a very different world. They lived in a world where people understood and cared about the written word. They had a much more educated citizenry.

    Who else is going to decide what the government should do, if not the citizenry?
    We don’t live in a democracy! This was not intended to be a country where the citizenry decides what they want government to do! We have a structure of government that is based on principles, independent of the vagaries of public opinion.

    I’m not sure that’s true at all. The citizens can elect representatives to do whatever they want. If the citizens want to take away their own right to free speech, they can do it.
    They could.

    They can make government come to their doors every morning with a newspaper and donuts if they want.
    Well, we’re almost at that point.

    Pwn3d! /Weigel

  35. The Founding Fathers lived in a very different world. They lived in a world where people understood and cared about the written word. They had a much more educated citizenry.

    I have to admit that I’ve always doubted these claims. Although, perhaps if “citizen” meant white, land-owning male, Joe Citizen would be fairly educated (too bad for everyone else).

    So I take it the whole bit about Obama being friends with the Weather Underground terrorists is just a nasty smear?

    :::yawn::: good try, Johnny-Come-Lately.

  36. Mainstream Democrat, just not too terribly savvy about teh internetz.

    Hell even I would have corrected her and I hate the guy…no Obama anti-smear campaign necessary.

    Unless of course the anti-smear campaign’s agenda is not to stop smears but to distract from real faults in the candidate.

  37. The government exists to do whatever people want it to do.
    Part of the problem is that we no longer have a truly educated public. The Founding Fathers lived in a very different world. They lived in a world where people understood and cared about the written word. They had a much more educated citizenry

    Fuck me.

    What a bunch of horse shit.

  38. Yeah, while I agree with some of the principles that Barr is espousing, I hate statements about some glorious past where all of the citizens were educated and refined and adhered to a select set of principles. Political campaigns even back then were not based on appeals to some set of high principles. Didn’t the original George W. (Washington) win elections by buying whiskey for his supporters?

    The Founders who wrote the Constitution were from an elite class, and so it is quite likely that a lot of them were indeed educated people with certain commonalities in their education and world-view. Even so, (1) there will still huge divides among them on matters concerning the role of government and (2) they were hardly representative of the electorate.

  39. For one person it’s a smear, for another it’s just another audio clip of something that came out of Michelle Obama’s mouth.

    You decide.

  40. Larry Sinclair has thus far failed to produce a single viable piece of evidence for any of his outrageous claims. Is it any wonder nobody in the mainstream media wants to risk their career and credibility covering this farce?

    Legally and morally, the burden is on Sinclair to prove his allegations, not on Obama to disprove them. Larry Sinclair knows this, but he is banking (quite literally) on the fact that the court of public opinion operates quite differently than a court of law, and isn’t making any substantial effort to prove his accusations. He knows that it’s hard to prove you DIDN’T do something, and is rallying the ignorant under this pretense to send him contributions (and any other number of other ‘fundraising’ activities of questionable legality).

    I’ve been trying to get Mr. Sinclair to response to questions on his blog (simple ones, like “If you think Obama’s phone records would prove you right, why don’t you provide your phone records, they should work just as well, right?” ), but the blog is so heavily moderated that not one single real question can get through, and apparently even his own worshipers are now having a hard time posting due to overaggressive comment deletion.

    I know several people who’ve tried to ask questions of Mr. Sinclair, but that is apparently not allowed on his blog, despite the fact that his blog clearly states “You may comment on any post, regardless of your position. However, please note that any and all abusive, threatening and vulgar comments and emails will result in your user name, email address and IP address being posted regardless and without the posters permission. You have been warned.” .

    Small wonder, huh? The guy who wants to force Obama to answer his questions will not answer anyone else’s 🙂

    I personally would love it if someone in the media just exposed this guy for the fraud he is. I’d watch that episode for certain, and I’m sure the advertisers would be well pleased by the number of viewers 😉

  41. I really encourage everyone who has any questions whatsoever, to go to this Sinclair’s website (larrysinclair0926 dot wordpress dot com) and spend a few entertaining minutes trying to find any proof with any merit whatsoever.

    Now that might sound like it’s about as much fun as a nailgun to the nutsack, so let me just reassure you that it’s VERY entertaining to read what these cult members say, and I can confidently promise you that you won’t be coming after me asking for that hour of your life back.

    After you fail to find anything legitimate, as I’m sure you will if you have any understanding of what constitutes reasonable proof, please please please try to ask for more details or a confirmation on some point (any point), or just try to engage Sinclair in any conversation whatsoever.

    And then, you will see with completely clarity, that this guy is nothing more than a nutcase running yet another (though somewhat incomprehensible) scam on those without sufficient mental defenses to screen out such nonsense.

  42. This article made broad assumptions based on just a tiny bit of research. Are there rumors floating around about Obama? Yes. Are a lot of people accepting them as fact? Yes. Are a lot of people researching them to determine what the facts actually are? Yes.

    You know what, if you drive around in Ohio you might think that everybody grows corn and owns cows. Gosh folks, I don’t. But I have met people from both sides of the coast (nice, educated people), who think all of us in the Midwest are farmers. Reminds me of a little community I live in in Northern Ireland called L/Derry in which some of the people had never seen a Protestant or never seen a Catholic, and think all Protestants have big noses and all Catholics have 10 kids.

    This article could have been written about any city in America, and I am deeply offended that it is used to portray some type of deep seated bias in the Midwest. How can a reporter decide whether or not someone is open-minded? Who defines open-mindedness? Isn’t lumping everyone in Findlay together as people who “dont’ like change” or “don’t question rumors” extremely closed minded in itself?

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