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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The imperative of the narrative

Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher would apparently rather see Sen. Barack Hussein Obama win the election than allow the puncturing of the mainstream Democratic-Republican narrative:

I'm not big on ritual denunciations: I'd rather argue with people than read them out of the conversation, as a general rule, and I hope my distaste for certain styles of political discourse is clear enough without my having to publicly denounce Ann Coulter every time she pulls an offensive, sales-goosing stunt on live TV. But along with Jon Henke and Pete Wehner, I think it's worth making an exception in the case of Jerome Corsi's anti-Obama book, whose Amazon page won't be linked here. It isn't just that Corsi himself is a conspiracy theorist and a crank, or that his best-selling farrago of innuendo and outright smears exemplifies everything that's wrong with a certain sort of right-wing publishing, or that David Freddoso's The Case Against Barack Obama demonstrates that it's perfectly possible to write an anti-Obama book without descending into the fever swamps.

It's amusing to see all the people who haven't read Jerome Corsi's book about the one-time Indonesian schoolboy attempt to minimize it as a "farrago of innuendo and outright smears" or some other ritual dismissal. This is a standard tactic of those who can't manage to make their case; we've seen it time and time again by those attacking the imaginary "logical fallacies" and nonexistent "attacks on strawmen" that supposedly riddle TIA. Avoidance by belittling is S.O.P. for the mainstream media and those who wish to be mainstream media, so it's disappointing to see it out of these two, who should know better. But Douthat's uncharacteristic posturing isn't merely an abdication of legitimate political discourse, it's stupidly short-sighted. After all, it really doesn't matter what Douthat thinks here, since he's the one who is irrelevant to the subject, not the best-selling Corsi.

But why do Douthat and Dreher feel the need to ritually denounce Corsi without reading his work anyhow? Are they secretly hoping for an Obama victory? Douthat isn't and I don't think Dreher is either. Are they soldiers of the truth who possess information that Corsi is incorrect on any of the substantial charges he makes or questions he raises? That doesn't seem likely, or they'd have addressed them directly rather than making their own unsubstantiated attacks on Corsi's book. I find it very difficult to believe that the usually fair-minded Dreher would regard similar dismissals of his own book on crunchy conservatism to be either legitimate or fair.

I don't have the answer, but I suspect that what Douthat and Dreher are attacking is Corsi himself, because if Corsi is credibly raising issues about Obama, as he previously did in the case of Kerry, then it's also entirely possible, if not downright probable, that he's credible with regards to the issues he's raised about the plans for the North American Union and what happened on 9/11. And that simply cannot be born; better an Obama presidency than the puncturing of their conventional political worldview.

Now, I'd much prefer to see Obama beat McCain, assuming that he even makes it to November. Both men would be disasters for the nation, but there's a slightly better chance that the Republicans might shake off the neocons and return to a genuine small government agenda with an Obama win than with a McCain victory. (I'm expecting the Democratic elders to figure out how to replace him with Hillary before then; if that substitution doesn't take place, she'll probably be president in 20122013.)

UPDATE - Rush Limbaugh also notes the obvious:

I'm just reading the tea leaves as they exist today, and the Obama campaign is in trouble, and this thing on Saturday night, this forum on Saturday night just focused everybody's attention on why. You know, it doesn't look like it's going to improve any, because he's who he is. He only can be nuanced because he doesn't have the experience, and he doesn't have the guts to be specific about what he wants to do.

Here's what I think. If Obama falls behind by more than 5 points in the polls before Denver, Hillary will stage an insurrection and probably be successful. She may do it anyway even if he staves off a complete collapse, but she'd be crazy not to challenge him if he continues to plummet. Aside from the mindless Obamanations, Democrats are much closer than most observers realize to hitting the panic button, as they know perfectly well that McCain shouldn't be anywhere near the Democratic candidate in this pro-Democrat electoral environment.

If Obama blows his VP choice, which would not surprise me given the strategic missteps he's made since becoming the candidate apparent, the elders will have no option but to draft Clinton, who is all too willing to be drafted. At this point, he'd be best off choosing Clinton to forestall a revival of her candidacy, but don't be too surprised if he does something totally insane like choosing a young black liberal as his running mate.

UPDATE II - well, that was certainly quick. Right after hitting Publish Post, I saw this: Poll shows McCain in 5-point lead over Obama. It's just one poll, but if the others follow suit, it will be Hillary time again. Obama has lost 12 points in a month; if he manages to lose another 12 he can't possibly be considered a viable candidate for the Cherry Blossom Throne.

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