Media accounts suggest that Corsi's assault on Obama rests primarily on the old right-wing stand-by of "murder by innuendo." For example, Corsi suggests that Obama has
“yet to answer” whether he “stopped using marijuana and cocaine completely in college, or whether his drug usage extended to his law school days or beyond.” “How about in the U.S. Senate?”When Corsi's critics point out that Obama has stated flatly that he did not use illegal drugs after the age of 20, Corsi just blow them off by saying that “self-reporting, by people who have used drugs, as to when they stopped is inherently unreliable.”
To be perfectly honest, I've always admired the way that chronic liars like Corsi can make stuff up like that on the spot.
But it's still garbage. Corsi wants us to believe that he is speaking truthfully even though he has no evidence to support his claims. Then, on top of that, Corsi refuses to allow Obama's own evidence to count. Who said being a smear artist didn't take a lot of brass.
The classic question then comes up concerning how Obama should respond. Should the Obama campaign stay quiet in order to avoid giving Corsi publicity? Or should they respond forcefully to make sure that large numbers of voters don't start believing what Corsi says?
One of the reasons why the Kerry campaign foundered is that they waited too long to respond to the Swift Boat smears. As a result, the Obama campaign has launched an energetic counter-attack, demanding that an Obama surrogate be given air time to rebut Corsi's charges every time Corsi appears on television and distributing a lengthy point by point rebuttal.
Yuval Levin of the National Review Online responds that Corsi's case might be so lame that Obama doesn't really need to respond.
However, the fact that Corsi's book is being published by former Cheney staffer Mary Matalin in her current role as an editor for Regnery Press is an indication that the Republicans are going to use Corsi's smears as a cornerstone of their fall media campaign.
In this context, the Obama campaign is not only right to insist on rebutting those charges, but would also be within their rights to portray Corsi as part of a broader Republican Party that has little to offer but campaign stunts and vicious smear campaigns. Whether Corsi's effective or not, Corsi's writing is part of a broader tradition of Republican smear campaigns and an integral part of Republican strategy for presidential elections.