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It is not often that a political reporter can claim to have witnessed the single most stupefying event on any single day, what with the diversity of inanity on display from coast to coast in an election year. But today, I feel confident laying claim to that dubious distinction, for I attended Larry Sinclair's Wednesday press conference at the National Press Club.
The event began less than auspiciously for Mr. Sinclair -- who has gained Internet notoriety by spreading wild accusations regarding gay sex, drugs and possible murder committed by Barack Obama -- as National Press Club staff took pains to remove the association's logo from behind the podium where Sinclair was set to speak. (Politico's Ben Smith today detailed Sinclair's "27-year criminal record, with a specialty in crimes involving deceit.")
Of course, the club had made clear for some time that it should not be viewed as endorsing Mr. Sinclair's claims simply for having agreed to host his mind-numbingly preposterous litany -- heavens, no! All that could be said for the institution was that it was happy to rent out its space to anyone who might be willing to pay in order to switch on the microphone.
And pay Sinclair did -- for the venue and its microphone, as well as for a kilted lawyer (with a suspended license) named Montgomery Blair Sibley, who informed those assembled that his preferences in dress were arrived at as a way to secure comfort for his unusually large sexual organs. "I don't know why men wear pants," he said with a poker face. "It's a function of male genitalia. If you're size normal or smaller, you're probably comfortable with [pants]. ... Those at the other end of the spectrum find them quite confining."
"I asked him to wear a suit and tie," Mr. Sinclair said ruefully. Then, he admitted to suffering from a brain tumor.
Only slightly less mystifying were the several dozen assembled journalists who seemed to grant Mr. Sinclair some modicum of respect with their questions. They cross-examined his statement regarding his supposed meetings with the Illinois Democrat with a vigor and small-bore attention to detail that prosecutors reserve strictly for witnesses who are sane. Imagine if you were to encounter someone who had lit himself on fire, and then proceeded to ask which brand of gasoline he favored.
And so the inquiries came, most of which Mr. Sinclair easily batted back with the exhortation to investigate his claims more vigorously. As for the evidence he provided, it amounted to a few phone numbers -- registered under different names and in different states -- that Mr. Sinclair claimed he used to call, variously, a limousine driver, the deceased choir director of Trinity United Church of Christ, and others. Clearly, it is now the duty of the mobile phone companies to open up these records to court scrutiny. (Forgive me for not reprinting any of the "evidence" in full here. Should you care to see it, Sinclair promised a version would be made public on his website, one free of the several errors which vexed him during his public statement today.)
"I expect you to ask me questions," Sinclair told the reporters. "I expect you to do your job, and actually find facts as opposed to looking at DailyKos or FireDogLake or Huffington Post or all of these pro-Obama sites."
When a questioner asked Mr. Sinclair whether he would permit review of his mental health records "for more than 30 minutes" -- in a lame attempt to riff on the restrictions imposed by John McCain's campaign -- Sinclair mumbled for a few moments, unaware of the reference.
When he was clued in, Mr. Sinclair shrugged and said: "You can see where my head is today."
To borrow a phrase: yes, we can.
D.C. videographer Elizabeth Glover was on hand to witness the spectacle and filed this report: