Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 30, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

RUMORS AND REPORTS OF RUMORS....A reader recommends this Washington Post story as an antidote to today's McClatchy story about the hard times that Republican attack groups have fallen on. Bottom line: maybe conservatives don't need to spend millions of dollars on Swift Boat-style attacks because fringe lunatics are doing all the same work for free. All hail the internet!

Kevin Drum 11:52 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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Kevin wrote: "Bottom line: maybe conservatives don't need to spend millions of dollars on Swift Boat-style attacks because fringe lunatics are doing all the same work for free."

I suggest reading Bob Somerby's blog The Daily Howler regularly, to keep track of which "fringe lunatics" are pimping for McCain and engaging in character assassination against Obama.

Hint: many of these "fringe lunatics" are highly-paid employees of major corporations, and their names will be familiar to you from television and newspapers.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 30, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Now, what a minute. The people of Findlay have been voting solidly Republican for possibly generations, so they've already proven that they're delusional. Why would anyone be suprised that ridiculous rumors about Obama would be accepted as fact?

Posted by: CT on June 30, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Contra Secular Animist, I think it's pretty well documented that these rumors aren't coming out of "corporate America"--although it wouldn't surprise me that some of these people are well heeled. [Where, BTW, does the DH deal with the sources of these rumors? I never see it burrow below the surface of the MSM]. That feeds into the favorite liberal urban legend--that it's all manipulation by the powerful. But in this case that's hardly necessary. You've got lots of people out there who viscerally hate Democrats, and see them as dangerous people of bad character; many of them are well off corporate types, but many of them are also small business people and the like. The consensus seems to be that these rumors can be traced back to Freepers, who are socio-economically a pretty mixed bag. That's what makes these rumors so dangerous; they're spread by people's neighbors, as the WaPo piece points out. And I can't say I'm impressed by the Obama Campaign's "aggressive" efforts to counter them. These rumors proliferate, and not just by e-mail; there are whole web sites devoted to ginning up phony evidence that Obama's classmates in Indonesia recall him as a devout Muslim [at age 10], and that he remained so for years afterward [even though they lost touch with him afterward]. Indeed, this "evidence" is spreading into more mainstream media through the likes of Daniel Pipes and Melanie Phillips. So far, though, not a peep about this "evidence" [which is backed up by seemingly authoritative links to the Indonesian-language press; you need to translate them to learn the truth] from the Obama camp.

Posted by: David in Nashville on June 30, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Measuring the 2008 GOP smear machine against the one in 2004 is comparing apples to oranges. The form of the attacks on Obama will be very different than the form of the attacks on Kerry, because the content of those attacks is different.

The most effective attacks on Kerry were appropriate for TV ads: He's not telling the truth, he served dishonorably, he's a flip-flopper.

In contrast, the most effective attacks on Obama are not appropriate for an above-ground, traditional-media effort: He's a Muslim, he's from Africa, he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. An attack group couldn't even get that stuff on TV. So the attacks have to come from a different source -- i.e., an underground smear campaign.

There have been no Swift Boat-type attacks on Obama -- and there won't be many -- because they wouldn't be effective. The Obama campaign, in its determination to avoid the mistakes of the Kerry campaign, is ready to make a quick an effective counterattack to the types of attacks that hurt Kerry. Problem is, the most damaging attacks on Obama will not be those kinds of attacks. The Obama campaign is prepared to fight the last war. Are they prepared to fight the war they're in?

Posted by: CN on June 30, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly strange to make up stories when the truth is bad enough.

Posted by: Luther on June 30, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Luther. What truth?
Spew forth Fox News and let's hear what you've got. Lifting your skirts above the trough while you leap across it in inuendo is, although kittenish, not sufficient.

Posted by: William Randolph Hearst on June 30, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

CN makes a good point. Push back on the slander about Obama needs to be of the same variety. Send bulk emails to conservatives about McDodo's confessions to his Vietnamese captors, his other military mistakes, like the USS Forrestal fire, and his Keating Five graft.

Posted by: Brojo on June 30, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Actually the worse rumor may be yet to come. The rumor that he is half white, was raised by white grand parents and really has never experienced what it is to be black will probably begin to circulate through the black community.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 30, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

They don't have to rely on Republican attack groups: the MSM has learned the lessons of these groups and will do their attacking for them.

Posted by: bobbob on June 30, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

They don't have to rely on Republican attack groups: the MSM has learned the lessons of these groups and will do their attacking for them.

Posted by: bobbob on June 30, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Along these lines, you should also read about Dr. Danielle Allen's efforts to track the source of the false e-mail biography of Obama. It does demonstrate how a lot of this information is spreading, a mix of formal and informal connections.

"What I've come to realize is, the labor of generating an e-mail smear is divided and distributed amongst parties whose identities are secret even to each other," she says. A first group of people published articles that created the basis for the attack. A second group recirculated the claims from those articles without ever having been asked to do so. "No one coordinates the roles," Allen said. Instead the participants swim toward their goal like a school of fish -- moving on their own, but also in unison.

Posted by: The Pop View on June 30, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

The key to the whole thing is how many of these lunatics would have voted for a white Democrat with a penis. If the numbers are small enough, then there's no issue about these lunatics -- that's why there is a Republican Party.

Posted by: CJColucci on June 30, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think Pop View's article link needs to be read by everyone. It's very interesting and it's exactly what the Obama campaign will have to fight all the way to the election.

Notice, by the way, that Dr. Allen traced most of the smear email to the scum that hang out at Freerepublic. Gee, what a surprise that the hotbed of racist hate-mongering is being fueled by those bozos.

I know that since Obama is a "public figure" and innuendos and smears are "fair game", but is there any legal recourse available to his campaign to stop this libel?

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on June 30, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

In the same Washington Post is another article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/29/AR2008062901878.html) that says:

"Sen. John McCain's allies have seized on a new and aggressive line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama, casting the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as an opportunistic and self-obsessed politician who will do and say anything to get elected. McCain typically leaves the sharpened criticism to others, in the hope of being able to claim the high ground of conducting a "respectful" campaign."

The Torture Party can't say openly that "Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance." But they can say he "will do and say anything." And if you're wondering whether the first statement is true, you're encouraged to believe it by the second statement.

This is by design.

Posted by: Sempringham on June 30, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to guess that Kevin Drum didn't read the link, since if he had I am absolutely positive he would also have been able to point out how the author is lying.

[Note: WM and/or KD have a habit of deleting or editing comments without notice, so this comment may disappear or be different from what I posted. Search for "kevin drum" at my site for examples of comments that were deleted.]

Posted by: The Annoying LonewackoDotCom on June 30, 2008 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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