The folks behind “The Obama Nation,” the wildly successful but factually disputed new book trashing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, are casting it as a scholarly, thoroughly researched work.
But its author has left a trail of wild theories, vitriol and dogma that have called into question his credibility.
Jerome Corsi, who rose to prominence as the co-author of a book attacking 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, penned another tome asserting oil is a nearly infinite resource that continues to generate naturally, and posted a series of online comments through 2004, including suggestions that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a lesbian and Muslims worship Satan.
In an interview with Politico, Corsi pointed out that he’s apologized for Internet postings ripping Muslims and Catholics, and said they don’t undermine the integrity of his new book.
“I wrote those to be provocative and I said I would not use that kind of politically incorrect language again, and I don’t believe I have,” he said.
The outrageous allegations haven’t stopped Corsi, who boasts a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, from achieving mainstream success. The Obama book was published by a new Simon & Schuster imprint that is run by Mary Matalin, a top Republican strategist and media personality.
The New York Times on Wednesday featured an excerpt of the book and a front-page write-up.
The story, though, spent considerable space challenging some of the book’s specific claims, including that Obama has “extensive connections to Islam,” that he never made clear he ceased using drugs after his admitted youthful dabbling and that he sat through a particularly inflammatory 2007 sermon by his former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Corsi called such challenges “nitpicking and not getting my core argument.”
The book questions whether Obama’s drug use continued into adulthood, Corsi said, because Obama’s assertions to the contrary are “unreliable.” It raises the racially charged rhetoric in a specific Wright sermon because Corsi said it was consistent with the worldview of Obama’s church.
Though he conceded that the conservative blog post from which he got the sermon date may have been wrong, Corsi said he didn’t intend to investigate or issue a correction.
“It’s not a material enough error to have mattered, because it’s a very peripheral point,” he said.
Some of the allegations in Corsi’s attack book on Kerry, “Unfit for Command,” were similarly challenged.
Still, both “Unfit for Command” and “Obama Nation” reached No. 1 on the Times nonfiction best-seller list, highlighting both the lucrative nature of the attack-book genre and the intense interest in all things Obama.
Sales undoubtedly have been boosted by recent appearances on top conservative talk radio shows and Fox News shows, including "Hannity & Colmes."
Corsi is an unabashed partisan. In 2006, he mulled a run for president under the hard-right Constitution Party’s banner and last year he signed on as a senior strategist for a group that intended to become to the right what MoveOn.org is to the left.
But his outrageous assertions and fringe theories — which include allegations that President Bush worked to eliminate the borders with Mexico and Canada and the assertion that Kerry is a Communist — have hurt his credibility on the right, as well.
Corsi’s co-author on the Kerry attack book, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spokesman John O'Neill, downplayed Corsi’s role after the left-leaning press watchdog group Media Matters exposed Corsi’s venomous postings in the conservative blogosphere.
On the blog FreeRepublic.com, Corsi wrote that pedophilia “is OK with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press,” that “RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters” and that Kerry is “Anti-Christian, Anti-American.”
Last year, Corsi released a book charging President Bush was secretly plotting to create a North American Union by merging the U.S. with Canada and Mexico.
The idea that there is a secretive plan for a North American Union is a favorite bogeyman for small-government conservatives but has been derided as baseless by mainstream thinkers and officials.
In blasting Corsi and the theory, a columnist at the influential conservative blog Human Events wrote, “I don't think Corsi is 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.”