Skip to comments.The Case For The Case Against Barack Obama
Posted on 08/19/2008 4:21:27 PM PDT by rdb3
The Case For The Case Against Barack Obama
A tale of two books.
By Jim Geraghty
If one is going to examine Jerome Corsis The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, one probably ought to also read David Freddosos book on the Democratic nominee, The Case Against Barack Obama.
Freddoso is one of our own, and he thanks me in the acknowledgments. So take that into account as you read the review.
Of the two books, Corsis has garnered a lot more attention, and thats unfortunate. Obama himself has talked about Corsis book, saying it just kind of sprung full bore out of this guys head, at a San Francisco fundraiser. Obamas campaign put out a 41-page response, and they seem eager to point to it as an example of unfair and inaccurate smears.
Even if Freddoso had made as many errors as Corsi (he hasnt), his book has an advantage: focus. Corsis book swerves from topic to topic, with criticisms of the candidate thrown together into an overloaded bouillabaisse. One chapter purportedly about the Cult of Personality covers the career of David Axelrod, Chris Matthewss infamous thrill going up my leg comment, Obama using phrases from campaign speeches of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Michelle Obamas anger, her Princeton thesis, and Obamas smoking habit.
In contrast, Freddoso hones in on one aspect of the Obama message, the idea that Obama is a reformer, and obliterates it in the manner of a professional demolitions crew. When Obama tried to argue that he was actually a supporter of Second Amendment rights, gun owners wondered why hed never spoken out against Chicagos handgun ban. Freddoso applies the same where was Obama, anyway? logic to the citys endemic corruption.
Where was Obama when a reform-minded liberal was challenging Cook County political boss John Stroger in 2006? Silent, until Stroger fell ill and his son ran in his place, winning Obamas endorsement.
Where was he when Alderman Dorothy Tillman who reportedly brandished a .38-caliber pistol during a ward redistricting session faced a tough reelection fight in 2007? Endorsing her. (Finally, Obama is willing to stand up for a gun owner.)
Where was Obama when indictments were flying in patronage scandals surrounding Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley in 2005? Saying to a Chicago Sun-Times reporter that the scandals gave him huge pause, before calling back the reporter an hour later to explain that the city had never looked better. Obama ultimately endorsed Daleys reelection.
This might be old news to the Chicago press, but its new to the rest of the country.
Obamas campaign hasnt offered a comprehensive response to Freddosos book, instead outsourcing the deed to Media Matters. The site makes such startling objections as this one, to Freddosos citing of Boston Herald reporter Jessica Van Sack: But while Van Sack did address fainting at Obama rallies, she made no comparison to other campaigns, as Freddoso claims.
They also insist it is a lie when Freddoso says Obama got his rivals thrown off the ballot on technicalities in his first Senate race. Yes, some signers didnt live in the right district to vote in that race, and there were allegations that some signatures were forged. But others were thrown out for being in print instead of cursive, and one womans was deemed invalid because she signed under her married name and was still registered to vote under her maiden name. These are technicalities.
They contend that Freddoso lies when he says Obama is the least experienced politician to get his partys nomination in the past 100 years, pointing to Obamas eight years in the state legislature and three years and change in the U.S. Senate. If Obamas supporters want to argue to undecided voters that their man is more prepared for the presidency than Dwight Eisenhower was, theyre welcome to. These voters know that experience means not just time spent in office but also actions that demonstrate leadership.
Freddoso spotlights little ironies that every other correspondent (including yours truly) should have seen earlier like Obama writing in The Audacity of Hope that his first political victory was attributable to a pretty convincing speech and enough of [the voters] appreciated my earnestness and youthful swagger. The removal of all rivals from the ballot is left unmentioned. He notes opponents of preemptive war applauding Obamas call to bomb targets in Pakistan without that governments permission, and the liberal magazine The Nation applauding Obamas support of a farm bill with massive giveaways to corporations.
If Corsis book is well-trod ground, Freddoso has managed to find anecdotes and details to illustrate the mania that has surrounded Obamas rise and the corruption around him. One Obama supporters euphoric tale of shaking the hand of a man who shook Obamas hand is beyond parody:
I noticed that a six foot tall guy who was standing in front of me had stretched far enough above the crowd and shook hands with Barack. As the guy drew back his hand I asked him, "You shook his hand didn't you?" Happily the guy said "Yes." I then said, "give me some of that" and the guy shook my hand with the same hand he had just clasped with Barack's. A woman friend of mine who was standing next to me saw me shake hands with the guy. I turned to her and said "He [the guy] just shook hands with Barack," to which she responded..."Hey, give it up." We then shook hands. She then turned to the person next to her and shook hands. This chain of hand shakes went on for about five or six more persons.
I did not know the tall guy in front of me; he is white, I am black. But at the moment we shook hands, I felt some solidarity with this stranger, consummated by a handshake and signifying some unspoken agreement presumably about Barack Obama and his core message of UNITY!
The Obama Nation debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at number one, and The Case Against Barack Obama debuted at number five. The success of both books, two very different critical approaches to the same topic, suggests that there is an enormous appetite for new information on Obama. If Obama falls short of his presidential aspiration, his supporters will be quick to attribute it to false smears in Corsis book. But any Obama defeat is more likely to be a result of the hard truths in Freddosos.
Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot blog on NRO.
So, Jim Geraghty’s throwing Corsi under the bus?
Wasn’t the saying “shook the hand that shook the world” a common saying during the late nineteenth-century bare-knuckle pugilist John L. Lewis’ height of fame?
It strikes me as unseemly to bash one anti-Obama book in favor of another anti-Obama book that happens to have been written by his colleague.
I also notice that, like the Democrat critics, he doesn’t seem to be able to cite any factual errors.
I’m sure it’s frustrating for his pal to write an Obama-basher and then get beaten out on the best seller list by another Obama-basher. But frankly this kind of rant won’t help.
Why not just suggest reading BOTH books. Especially since a ton of people have already bought Corsi’s book.
I read both, and they’re both very good. Although they don’t contain ALL the dirt on Barry (there’s not enough room between two covers), they are a worthwhile investment.
Meanwhile, an NR editor with a modestly well-honed sense of English usage should have homed in on Geraghty's "hones in" clanger.
I’m sure they’re both good books, but the reason Corsi’s book has gotten so much more attention is the title.
“In contrast, Freddoso hones in on one aspect of the Obama message, the idea that Obama is a reformer,”
Yeah, the ‘dime a dozen’ street-hustler a is a ‘reformer.’
That this lightweight is even taken seriously is astounding in it’s implications.
Has America completely lost it’s mind?
In a non-bizarro world he would be a mediocre drug dealer or — at the best! — a car or insurance salesman.
Trust me, Freddoso's book is better.
Freddoso undertands that despite Obama’s many shortcomings, he is no dummmy. He understands electoral law and structure better than anybody this side of Rove. He knows how to cut and slash his political enemy while smiling innocently. He wins by finding technicalities and exploiting them to get his opponent kicked off the ballot or effectively neutered. Believe me, he has 100 full-time guys digging for dirt on McCain right now.
Thank you. That was my point.