Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Birthers New Game

Dave Weigel notes how a new smear campaign launched from the right wing echo chamber has exploded across the usual media dumping grounds like Drudge and Fox News. The reports claim that Newark Mayor Cory Booker doesn't live in Newark. In fact, they go on to claim that he's never lived there and that his neighbors have never seen him around.

It's a rather fanciful tale, but the warning flags about these claims should come up from the byline on down.

For starters, let's look at who's peddling this particular story. It's Joel Gilbert, a director who's best known for putting together birther conspiracy films about how President Obama isn't an American citizen and should not be president. He's now doing the same thing with Cory Booker (another African American politician at that). It's meant to be disruptive, but it doesn't take much to rebuff this kind of transparent smear job that's worthy of James O'Keefe.

Substantively, these claims about Booker not living in Newark can't pass the smell test. Booker's presence in Newark is well documented on social media - especially Twitter. There are hundreds of messages relating to hyperlocal activities of Booker and his neighbors in Newark including helping out neighbors around the corner when the power went out during Hurricane Sandy. In particular, there's this exchange.

https://twitter.com/CoryBooker/statuses/263990447205122048

Local media reports and national media outlets followed the reporting and provided photos and interviews with those who stayed over at Booker's Newark home or came by to recharge phones, etc. It was widely reported. For instance, Huffington Post carried this story as part of the larger context of what people were doing to cope with the storm's effects. Time had a similar report, indicating that 12 of his neighbors crashed at his place, getting food delivered and watching kid-friendly DVDs.

Now, we've got Steve Lonegan aligned right wing media outlets peddling a smear about how Booker isn't a Newark residence. In fact, we've even got political operative Dick Morris pushing this nonsense and going beyond it to claim that he's got a plan to deny Booker a seat in the Senate based on lack of residency.

Politicker indicated that Booker gave his neighbors free reign to use an entire floor, including kitchen and bathroom, complete with photos. That's from November 2, 2012.

An easy Internet search disproves this nonsense, but that's actually besides the point. Lonegan and the right wing are trying to delegitimize candidates in any way, shape, or form. Birther and conspiracy theories all fit into the strategy to undermine their political opponents. It makes it easier to attack their political achievements when claiming that they aren't legitimate either. Putting this out there with less than 24 hours to go before the special election is meant to give Booker little time to counter the smear and take Booker off message.

It all comes at a time when Lonegan's long-shot chance at winning is getting longer. Lonegan's supposed closing rally in the polling is just that - supposed. He hasn't come any closer than double digits in any polls, and a few are indicating that Booker has regained a significant and comfortable lead.

Part of the reason that the spread has grown is that Booker has rightfully called Lonegan and his fellow travelers as the extremists as they are. Lonegan didn't help his cause any when he got Sarah Palin to stump for him. That only burnished his extremist credentials.

Lonegan's attack ads also attempt to throw every conceivable buzz word at Booker, even calling him corrupt. It hasn't worked, but it only shows that Lonegan is a one-trick pony who can gin up interest only by whipping right wingers into a frenzy.

While that can help rally the base, it wont peel off independents who are flocking to Booker and reinforces the fact that Lonegan is a tea party extremist who's comfortable with shutting down government and threatening default in order to extort the kind of defund/delay/destroy Obamacare demands that his fellow travelers in the House and Senate are pushing.

Lonegan is all kinds of wrong for New Jersey, and wrong for the country. Tomorrow's election should seal that fate.

Polls open in New Jersey's special election tomorrow at 6 am through 8pm.

Cross Posted at LGF


 


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