I love conspiracy theories, and have been fascinated by those who promulgate them ever since I wrote a play about one such strain — Holocaust denial — back in the 90s. When you write a play, you literally must speak for the characters, and you try to fit yourself into their heads. Why would somebody believe in an elaborate, counter-intuitive, highly improbable international conspiracy to — in this example — fake the mountain of evidence for the Holocaust, rather than just accept reality? Because reality is intolerable. It is intolerable to some that their heroes, the Germans, committed industrialized mass murder. It is intolerable to others that their hero, JFK, was murdered by a solitary nutbag who happened to be a very good shot. It’s intolerable to still others that all life descended from a single origin via natural selection. So, all these (otherwise very different) people devote a tremendous amount of time and energy explaining away the existing evidence and inventing (more or less) counter-evidence. Because all that work and time and energy is a blessing; it frees them from the prison of the real world.
In the real world, Barack Obama seems like he’s going to be elected President. This, as unlikely as it might have seemed as little as two years ago, is easily explained: the Republicans have done a poor job running the country, have a very unpopular incumbent President, and our nation likes to switch parties about every 8 to 12 years. Plus, Obama is a charismatic politician who’s run a very competent campaign.
Nonetheless, this reality is intolerable to some, and they have created an alternative narrative. In this narrative, Obama is “a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists, unrepentant former terrorists and Chicago mobsters.” Once elected, presumably, will reveal himself to be the monster that he is, in the manner of Kang and Kodos in that classic 1996 Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons.
If you want to take a look at their reasoning, I recommend the work of Stanley Kurtz over at the National Review. But what I’m most interested in is the unstated but necessary conditions for all this to be true:
1) That Barack Obama is, and has been at least from his college days, a conscienceless, hermetic liar, who refused to reveal his true agenda and thoughts to anyone other than his co-conspirators; not to his casual friends, students, colleagues, employers, clients and constituents, and that his two books on his life and political beliefs are nothing but a pack of lies, possibly ghostwritten by others. Further, that Obama never acted in any significant way to advance that Marxist/radical agenda in any of his prior jobs or offices, presumably because if he had done so (by, say, putting forward a radical Marxist bill in the Illinois State Senate, where he served for 12 years,) he would have blown his cover, and ruined his chance to become President, which has always been his goal, and from which office he will finally enact his true agenda;
2) and/or that those of his friends/colleagues/co-conspirators to whom he did reveal his true agenda, (William Ayers, et al) have also maintained absolute perfect silence/mendacity on the topic, forever, as no one who actually knows Obama has ever said, “You know, once he’s got a couple of drinks in him, he starts going on about Che and finishing the Revolution;”
3) and/or all the sensible, centrist, often bipartisan things Obama did do (eg. the bill to tape interrogations in Illinois) the hundreds of thousands of dollars he he helped hand out via the Annenberg Challenge to things like literacy programs, et. al, were all mere cover for his true, as of yet unenacted agenda;
4) and/or all the national newspapers and news channels that have scoured every aspect of Obama’s life, from his childhood in Indonesia to his career as a law professor to his wife’s honor’s thesis at Princeton, and who have revealed absolutely no evidence of anything but Obama being an extremely intelligent, perhaps overly cautious and eager-to-please good-government liberal, have either themselves been duped or, more likely, are in on the scam.
They never say it explicitly, but in order for their theory to be correct, the Obama conspiracy theorists have to believe that some or all of things are true. Do they? I’d love to know.
I recently reunited with an old friend who I haven’t seen in some years, who, the intervening time, had become a 9/11 Truther. In short, she believes that 9/11 was an inside job, engineered by the Bush Administration, in order to enact their agenda. And I said to her: why in the world would they bother?
UPDATE — Thanks to some links around the internet — thanks, Mr. Kottke! — this little post has drawn more than the usual dribs and drabs of comment. Already up into the 20s! Woo-hoo!
I decided not to argue with any of the commenters — that way madness lies — but I did want to take issue with this meme, expressed succinctly by James L, below: “Obama has faced no scrutiny by any mainstream news source. None.”
As a friend used to say, that’s just crazy talk. I live in Chicago, and have for ten years. His career here and then his rise to national prominence was extensively covered in the local papers, both of which lean right editorially. Since his appearance on the national stage four years ago, he’s been covered, exhaustively, by the national papers and news networks. Some examples: last year, Obama sat down with the Chicago Tribune to discuss, in detail, his associations with felonious fundraiser Tony Rezko. (Go here, then click on the Multimedia presentation about the Obama Rezko connection.) The New York Times has been running a series of profiles, under the heading, The Long Run, over the past two years. You can find an archive here, including in depth stories about his mother, his career in community organizing, and yes, a front page story on his drug use, which another commenter says has never been examined. Other major newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, also conveniently collect all their extensive Obama coverage on a single web-page, for your perusal. I invite you to peruse them.
Perhaps, to some minds, these aren’t mainstream news organizations, which raises the question: then what is? And also: what among these voluminous articles, based on actual reporting, is factually incorrect? (And I mean facts, not implied judgments.) Most likely, the commenters below would respond that these stories are not incorrect, per se, but incomplete, as they don’t report on, again, his radical Marxist/socialist/Afro-centric/terroristic/Anti-American activities and beliefs. And that’s true, they don’t. And logically, there are two, and only two, reasons as to why they would not report those things:
A) There is, in fact, no evidence for any of those accusations, or
B) All of these news organizations — the LA and NY Times, The Tribune and Sun Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal (news pages), everybody from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, to the Miami Herald, from the San Diego Union to the Portland Press Herald — every single one — the same newspapers that were happy to dig up and print any dirt they could find on Democratic Presidents and Governors and candidates in the past – are in on the scam.
At this point, with the gallons of ink spilled and trillions of pixels expended on covering Obama, those are the only two options left. Which do you choose?
FURTHER UPDATE: Andy McCarthy, at the National Review, has written what must be the Ur-document, the founding text, of the Obama Conspiracy Movement. It’s got everything: copious quotes from the man himself, lots of connections and links and names and explanations and ipso factos and QEDs. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand this line of thinking.