One of the reasons that I keep harping on the long form birth certificate issue, despite not technically being a birther, is because I think anti-conspiracy theory hysteria inhibits rational debate even more than default conspiracy theorizing. The tendency to automatically search out and embrace conspiratorial explanations undoubtedly distorts rational debate, but it is the habit of a few. A few that aren’t going anywhere any time soon and who inhabit disproportionately the political “fringe” of both sides, but a few nonetheless. The reason why I believe conspiracy phobia distorts the debate more than conspiracy theorizing is that it is more broadly embraced, particularly by the elites, the media, and the establishment.
A case in point is the debate about the authorship of Obama’s two books, especially the first one, Dreams from My Father. Looked at dispassionately and objectively, the suggestion that Obama didn’t really write Dreams isn’t even a conspiracy theory. It would require no broad complicity. It is simply a rather mundane allegation of fraud and dishonesty. (By a politician? No way!) Obama would hardly be the first politician to have a book ghostwritten, and he will hardly be the last.
But anti-birther hysteria has made any questioning of Obama’s murky background and accomplishments off limits in “polite society” because it automatically gets lumped in with “birtherism,” which is a political hot potato that no one wants to touch. (In addition to the fact that Obama’s race will automatically be attributed as a motive to anyone who raises the question.) So the legitimate and interesting question of the authorship of Obama’s books remains unaddressed by the Mainstream Media due to it falling within the “penumbra” of birtherism. (I don’t have a link at this time, so this is from memory, but I recall the authorship question coming up at a press conferences, and it was dismissed by the President’s spokesman out of hand with some sleazy reference to birtherism. I’ll look for the link.)*
Check out this recent interview at Front Page Mag with Jack Cashill who has addressed the authorship issue more thoroughly than anyone else as far as I am aware. Also check out the new book Cashill wrote on the subject.
So why does the authorship question matter? Like I said above, the allegation that a politician didn’t actually write his book is hardly earth shaking. The reason it matters is because much of the early buzz around Obama before he was elected was that he was some sort of literary genius based on the admittedly well-written Dreams? Well this supposed credential goes away if he didn’t really write it. Also, he made a point to specifically say he wrote it (see the Cashill interview) likely because it is routinely assumed that politicians often don’t. So if he didn’t write it, he blatantly lied. Also, he made a concerted effort in the campaign to distance himself from Bill Ayers, the alleged ghostwriter. If Ayers is in fact his ghostwriter, then Obama blatantly lied about the extent of his relationship with Ayers.
As an aside, Cashill essentially confirms my conspiracy phobia thesis. He says:
FP: How did the media respond?
Cashill: With a shrug. This did not surprise me. Real knowledge might just have undermined their commitment to a philosophy so evasive — “Yes, we can?” — they themselves would be at a loss to describe it. That much I got. What I did not get was why the “respectable” conservative media were mimicking the turtle-like defenses of their mainstream peers. I was not asking them to buy my thesis sight unseen but to kick the tires and take it for a test drive. (emphasis mine)
I get it Dr. Cashill. It’s called conspiracy phobia and the intellectual paralyzing and curiosity dampening effect it has on too many timid minds.
*On further investigation, I was thinking about the Social Security Number issue. There are so many mysteries about Obama I can’t keep them all straight.