Swift Boat Book Publisher Targets Obama
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block. A new book about Barack Obama will top the New York Times Bestseller List this weekend. It's called "The Obama Nation," and it argues that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will weaken America militarily and economically because he is a liberal ideologue.
The book is getting attention because its author is Jerome Corsi. He was co-author of the 2004 book titled "Unfit for Command" that attacked John Kerry's war record, the so-called Swiftboating of the Democratic nominee.
Joining us to talk about this new book is NPR's Don Gonyea. And Don, there have been anti-Obama books before. Does this one break any new ground?
DON GONYEA: Yeah, what this one does - it's over 304 pages, it's a pretty lengthy book - is tie together in narrative form the kind of criticism we've heard of Obama for a long time from those who don't want to see him in the White House.
It purports to be a fact-based look at Obama's life. It says he's unprepared to be president, he's been unscrutinized by the media, that he's even dangerous, that he would make America weaker militarily and economically, but it also, you know, implies that he has, you know, deep and close and ongoing ties to Islam, and it raises questions about the time he spent as a youth in Indonesia. And you know, we know that Senator Obama is a Christian and has been a long-practicing Christian.
So there are things in the book that are shaded a certain way that could have easily been fact-checked, but for whatever reason weren't.
BLOCK: What are some of the other allegations that are wrong?
GONYEA: It claims that Senator Obama, for one, was in the audience at a sermon in 2007 by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We all know Reverend Jeremiah Wright so well now for his sermons that became so controversial.
This was a particularly incendiary one where he talks about white arrogance, and we know from news stories and other reporting that Senator Obama was not there, that he was in Florida at the time.
It states that Senator Obama, who has admitted that he used illegal drugs - some marijuana, some cocaine - in high school - it states that he's never told us he stopped using those drugs. So for all we know now, he used them through college into his career in public life, perhaps even after being elected to the Senate.
BLOCK: According to the book.
GONYEA: According to the book. We know for a fact - I've been there many times on the campaign trail when Senator Obama has talked about that period in his life. He has said many times, it's been reported, I've heard it, others have heard it, that he hasn't used any illegal drugs since he was 20 years old, and he's talked to students about that in places like Iowa during the caucuses.
BLOCK: The editor of the imprint that's published this book is Mary Matalin, the former Republican operative, and she calls the book scholarship. Does it read as scholarship?
GONYEA: It reads more like a political tract. Let me just give you an example. I'll read you just one paragraph here from the introduction. Dr. Corsi writes: What I seek to prevent by writing this book is an Obama presidency that would represent nothing more than a repeat of the failed extremist politics that have characterized and plagued Democratic Party presidential politics since the late 1960s.
He goes on to write: With Obama, the leftist political correctness enforced by his campaign has even intervened to prevent anyone from using his middle name, which happens to be Hussein.
BLOCK: What's the response been from the Obama campaign to this book?
GONYEA: The senator himself has not addressed it, but one of his campaign spokesman, Tommy Vietor, wrote: This book is nothing but a series of lies that were long ago discredited, written by an individual who was discredited after he wrote a similar book to help George Bush and Dick Cheney get re-elected four years ago. He of course is referring to "Unfit for Command: Swiftboat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry."
BLOCK: And any response from John McCain or his campaign?
GONYEA: I have not heard anything from his campaign.
BLOCK: NPR's Don Gonyea. Thanks so much.
GONYEA: Thank you.
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