Oh Those Gadflies

Jerome Corsi, one of the Swift Boat liars, or, as The New York Times calls him a “conservative gadfly,” has a new book out that apparently, among other things, repeats the ludicrous charge that Barack Obama is some kind of secret Muslim. To Mary Matalin this is “a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that.”

Joe Klein is not amused by this stuff:

Back in the day, John McCain was the sort of politician who would stand first in line to call out this sort of swill. (As, I’m sure Barack Obama or John Kerry would do, if some hate-crazed, money-grubbing left-winger published a book claiming that McCain had been successfully brainwashed in Vietnam — as Kerry did indeed do when a group of spurious Bush-backing Vietnam vets tried to claim exactly that about McCain during the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina.)

But we’re not seeing those sorts of claims being made about McCain this year…because Democrats tend not to do that sort of thing. They are the sorts of claims that Republicans — Bush Republicans — make. They range from the blatantly extra-curricular, like Corsi’s book, to the official McCain-sanctioned introduction made by Joe Lieberman — of all people — yesterday: that Obama doesn’t “put America first.”

What’s more, beyond the specific case Klein rightly recognizes that these right-wing smear artists are taking advantage of structural flaws in the elite media (“I know that people like me are supposed to try to be fair…and balanced . . . In the past, I would achieve a semblance — or an illusion — of balance by criticizing Democrats for not responding effectively when right-wing sludge merchants poisoned our national elections”). So here’s to his new attitude and here’s hoping others in the press catch on.