AND AMERICAN SPECTATOR CONSPIRACY SQUEAMISHNESS
By: Red Phillips
On September 2nd, American Spectator ran this feature article on the
Obama/Ayers relationship. At the time of this writing it was up to 601 comments so clearly
this relationship is of interest to many. First of all, I don't really like these sorts of
guilt by association articles. Yes, Ayers has done some bad things in his life. Yes, he
associated with some bad people. And yes, he probably got off with less punishment than he
otherwise would have because his family is politically connected. But I don't
like this guilt by association stuff because it comes off like a right-wing version
of a SPLC smear. According to SPLC style reasoning, Conservative Candidate X somehow
associated with some know wrongthinker, therefore he is evil. The sleaziness of this
"logic" is obvious, so we shouldn't copy it. The fact that Obama was closer
to Ayers than he let on does not mean he supports bombing the Pentagon.
If an outside the mainstream conservative is active in outside the mainstream
conservative circles, he will almost invariably come in contact with people whose views he
does not share and would not want associated with him. Likewise, anyone running in
certain leftist circles in Chicago was bound to run into Ayers, not to mention the fact
that he lived in the same neighborhood as Obama. It seems to me that one effect of this
sort of guilt by association is to drive potential future candidates into the
mainstream where they aren't as likely to run into "unsavory" wrongthinkers
that some wag is later going to throw up in their face. Is this something serious
conservatives want to encourage? Does it serve our interests to copy and hence validate
SPLC style reasoning?
What is important about the closer than reported Ayers/Obama relationship is not to
imply that Obama condones violent activism. (He might have at one time, but that isn't
established simply by the fact that he knew Ayers better than he let on.) What is
important is that his association with Ayers places him in circles that are likely farther
left by degree than if he was hanging out with Mayor Daley for example. It also
illustrates that he lied about the extent of that relationship.
It also strikes me that this sort of guilt by association (left and right) encourages
people to be uncivil for the sake of protecting themselves. Is it not possible to have
relationships and friendships with people with whom you disagree? Had Obama met Ayers at a
Chicago cocktail party was he supposed to run the other way in order to protect his future
political viability? What should matter is what Obama or Conservative Candidate X say they
believe and what their records suggest they believe, not that they scrupulously avoided
any association that might later be held against them.
All that said, the most striking thing about this article is what it does
not mention about the Ayers/Obama relationship. It is a long, well documented
article, but it fails to mention even in passing the explosive allegation that Ayers might
have ghost-written Obama's memoir. Surely Regnery was aware of this allegation. It would
be impossible to research a long article like this and not be. So that suggests that the
ghost-writing allegation was intentionally not mentioned. Why? Was the evidence examined
and found wanting? (If that is the case, why not say that since the allegation is already
out there and well known?) Or was it not mentioned so as to avoid any association
with anything that might be considered conspiratorial? (For whatever reason, while
the ghost-writing allegation is a separate issue and only ancillary related to the whole
"birther" thing, it has nevertheless been largely subsumed under the
"birther" umbrella.) I strongly suspect the later.
American Spectator gained prominence
in the Clinton era as the primary outlet for the explosive Troopergate story, so AmSpec may
retain a residual reputation as a magazine willing to broach the conspiratorial (It seems
to based on a few of the comments.), but as far as I know since the Troopergate
backlash AmSpec seems to have actually been reluctant to tackle the
While I realize that individual blog posts and articles don't
necessarily reflect the editorial beliefs of the magazine, I can't recall any posts or
articles that were sympathetic to those who have doubts about, in one way or another, the
Obama narrative, and I do recall some that were not sympathetic. Did AmSpec commision
a forensic evaluation of the long form birth certificate upon its released? Has AmSpec addressed
the Connecticut Social Security number issue? Have they addressed the fishy draft
registration card? Have they addressed the authorship issues? I will be happy to
stand corrected if I am wrong, but as far as I know they haven't. And all these issues
could be addressed without embracing "born in Kenya" orthodox birtherism. All
these issue could be addressed as simple curiosity about a narrative that is clouded in
mystery and secrecy, hardly something that would allow any fair-minded person to
brand them as a conspiratorial rag.
Far from being a magazine that conspiracy mongers, I sense in the
post-Troopergate AmSpec a magazine that
actually scrupulously attempts to avoid the taint of conspiracy. How else do
you explain a four page article on the Obama/Ayers relationship that doesn't even mention
the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the ghost-writing allegation?
We already have a deliberately incurious mainstream media that looks the other way and
actively covers for Obama. A primary role for "respectable" right-wing
journalism ought to be to examine objectively those things the mainstream media is
intentionally overlooking, not serve as fellow guardians of acceptable opinion.
One problem with the whole birther debate from the beginning is that it has been almost
entirely hashed out by partisans on either side, a protective deliberately incurious look
the other way mainstream media along with left-wing Obama hacks vs. convinced birthers in
the "outside the mainstream" right-wing blogosphere. This is not a dynamic that
favors getting to the truth. If AmSpec could
get over their apparent conspiracy squeamishness then maybe they could play the role of
objective seekers of truth that should normally be played by the "regular" press
if we had a functioning one which we dont. A good place to start would be examining
the Dreams from My Father authorship controversy. Maybe that could be part two of
the Regnery Ayers/Obama relationship expose.
Red Phillips is a physician
from Georgia. He occasionally blogs at Conservative
Times. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
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the September 10, 2011 issue of
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