Obama aide: Corsi "a discredited liar"

Barack Obama's campaign prepares a 39-page response to an error-filled new book by the man behind the Swift Boat Vets.

Published August 14, 2008 8:50PM (EDT)

Sometime Thursday afternoon, Barack Obama's campaign will be sending out to reporters a 39-page book mocking Jerome Corsi, featuring blurbs calling Corsi's error-filled new anti-Obama book "trash" and "poisonous," which aims to deliver two messages to the political world.

One, Corsi's book isn't worth the paper it's printed on, and two -- maybe more important -- unlike John Kerry four years ago, Obama isn't just going to sit back and take it while things get out of hand.

"We are clear-eyed about the sort of media age we live in," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor told me. "These things are always going to get attention ... it's part of [the right-wing] media strategy."

"The Obama Nation," a sort of thematic sequel to Corsi's 2004 anti-Kerry screed "Unfit for Command," will debut at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list this weekend. And it's already getting massive coverage on cable news and in the media. The Obama campaign's response -- titled "Unfit for Publication" -- is its attempt to get out ahead of what could otherwise be a wave of bad press based on a book full of smears.

Obama's H.Q. isn't really worried that Corsi's book will convert readers -- the bulk sales to conservative groups that fueled the book's rise on the bestseller list make it clear that Corsi is preaching to the choir. What aides do worry about is the phony charges in the book -- like Obama's alleged secret Muslim ties, or a hidden drug habit -- might make their way into the media echo chamber without a response. If the book is going to get publicity, strategists want to make sure their version gets told, too -- right down to Corsi's other wacky theories, like the one about how oil is actually a renewable resource. "We're going to make sure that every time the book is discussed, everyone who reads about it also reads that he got a bunch of things wrong," Vietor said. "He's a discredited liar. He's peddling garbage to continue the Bush-Cheney politics he helped perpetuate four years ago."

For the record, actually, Corsi is officially trying to get Chuck Baldwin elected president. Who's that, you might rightly ask? He's the nominee of the far-right Constitution Party. As someone who believes in a secret plot to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada in a shadowy North American Union, Corsi doesn't have much sympathy for John McCain, who has mostly supported immigration reform measures.

Corsi, whom I tried to contact Wednesday about why he apparently misquoted a Salon story in the book, still hasn't returned calls or e-mails. GOP operative Mary Matalin, who edits the Simon & Schuster imprint that published the book, referred me to Corsi's flack, Tim Bueler. Bueler, when I reached him, asked, "So, are they going to sue us, then?" and said Corsi wouldn't be available for comment until Friday.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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