Huffpost Politics
Seth Colter Walls Headshot

Obama Campaign Punches Back Hard Against Corsi Smears

Posted: Updated:

As promised, Barack Obama's campaign is hitting back hard against smear author Jerome Corsi's New York Times best-selling book The Obama Nation.

In an exhaustive 41-page PDF document entitled Unfit for Publication -- a riff on Corsi's 2004 Unfit for Command, which targeted John Kerry -- the campaign documents every false claim they have been able to find in Corsi's current tome. No matter how small the error, including the year the Obamas married, the campaign has taken time to correct the record.

Clearly, the cumulative effect is meant as a kind of rhetorical "shock and awe" campaign against Corsi, who is described in the prelude of Unfit for Publication as "a discredited, fringe bigot" who "believes that President Bush is trying to merge the United states with Mexico and Canada," in addition to holding other conspiracy theories.

"Corsi has penned a litany of bigoted, hateful comments-- crossing the line so thoroughly that even the right-wing operatives behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disavowed him. This is a man who smears the Catholic Church, calls the Pope 'senile,' and regularly demeans public servants in vile sexual and racial terms," the document reads. "In short, his record of attacks is disgusting and false, and so is this book."

And then comes the table of contents.

Overall, the response memo was produced in a comprehensively media-savvy style meant to inspire more critical coverage of Corsi's book, and perhaps a few giggles at the author's expense, as well. The document's satirical cover carries a seal next to Corsi' picture that reads: "Brought To You By Bush/Cheney Attack Machine," and a quote from Joe Klein's Time.com blog post calling The Obama Nation "poisonous crap."

As for the content of the Obama camp's rebuttals, they also appear comprehensive. After a short section excerpting Corsi's bad reviews thus far, the bulk of the document is a section dedicated to the book's falsehoods. And the inaccuracies in Corsi's book appear vast indeed, from the small and quotidian to the large and substantive.

Apparently, Corsi got next to everything wrong about Obama's own books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Whereas Obama Nation claims that "Nowhere in the autobiography does Obama disclose that his wife-to-be accompanied him to Africa on the 1992 trip," the Obama response lays out the actual passage in full:

"After our engagement, I took Michelle to Kenya to meet the other half of my family. She was an immediate success there as well, in part because the number of Luo words in her vocabulary very soon surpassed mine. We had a fine time in Alego, helping Auma on a film project of hers, listening to more of Granny's stories, meeting relatives I'd missed the first time around."

Elsewhere in Corsi's book, he writes that "Obama failed to discuss his father's alcoholism and polygamy in his autobiography," despite the passage from Obama's book that reads:

"He would come home very late, drunk, and I could hear him shouting at Ruth, telling her to
cook him food. ... Then he would stagger in drunk and come into my room and wake me because he wanted company or something to eat. He would talk about how unhappy he was and how he had been betrayed."

For what it's worth, Corsi also falsely claims that Obama did not dedicate Dreams to his family, despite the dedication page that reads: "It is to my family, though -- my mother, my grandparents, my siblings, stretched across oceans and continents -- that I owe the deepest gratitude and to whom I dedicated this book. Without their constant love and support, without their willingness to let me sing their song and their toleration of the occasional wrong note, I could never have hoped to finish. If nothing else, I hope that the love and respect I feel for them shines through on every page."

As for politics, Corsi repeatedly distorts Obama's actions and positions -- at one point accusing him of meddling in Kenyan politics after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked him to tape a radio message for broadcast there. Corsi's rhetorical suggestion that Obama's stance on Israel is "merely a matter of political convenience" meets with a page-and-a-half rebuttal in "Unfit for Publication," with statements from Obama going back to 2000. Corsi's suggestion that Obama approved of Louis Farrakhan's views is also rebutted with a 1995 article penned by Obama.

After 29 pages of this, the Obama campaign's response document turns again to the subject of Corsi and his "widely discredited beliefs." At one point, the document quotes a writer for the conservative website Human Events who said Corsi is not "any more worthy of being taken seriously than those who think Jews rule the world or the 'Truthers' who think President Bush is responsible for 9/11."

In providing all this oppo research to the media so quickly after the book's publication, the Obama campaign is clearly trying to avoid John Kerry's fate in 2004, when some media outlets reported in neutral fashion about the claims in Corsi's Unfit for Command for far too long. This time, at least, the Democrat can't be accused of holding back in the face of false attacks.