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Obama’s strategy for anti-Obama efforts

Some supporters ask if he’s done enough to counter a bestseller.

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If Corsi had written the Obama book with ministers who had worked with Obama in the 1980s, and who felt Obama was unfit for office, then that would be a big story, opines National Review columnist Byron York in a blog. “This is not 2004,” he writes.

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Another conservative and a veteran of both Bush administrations, Peter Wehner, warns in a column in Commentary Magazine that “conservatives should not hitch their hopes” to Corsi’s book. He writes that the book “seems to be riddled with factual errors” and then notes wide media reporting on some of Corsi’s unusual interests – such as the 9/11 “truth movement,” which asserts that the World Trade Center towers collapsed from explosions inside the building.

Opponents of Corsi have pointed out that his position on the Times’ bestseller list is due to conservative book groups buying the book in bulk, not widespread interest across the political spectrum.

But the book does have ties to the Republican mainstream. It is published by Simon & Schuster’s new conservative imprint, Threshold Editions, which is run by Mary Matalin, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Ms. Matalin has called the book “a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that.”

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has yet to respond fully to the Corsi book. On Friday, when Senator McCain was asked for a comment by an Associated Press reporter, he smiled and said, “gotta keep your sense of humor.” A campaign spokeswoman later said McCain had not heard the question and added that the campaign had no comment.

Drowned out in media coverage by all the Corsi sensation is another anti-Obama book, “The Case Against Barack Obama,” by National Review reporter David Freddoso. But readers are buying it, too: It’s at No. 5 on the Times’s nonfiction bestseller list. The Freddoso book portrays Obama as a “doctrinaire liberal,” not a reformer and it slams Obama for not bucking the vaunted Chicago political machine. Mr. Freddoso believes that the nonfactual smears against Obama have allowed him to avoid responding to more substantive critiques.

The real test of the anti-Obama books will be the voters.

These authors “are preaching to the choir – that’s a given,” says John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

But, he adds, how Obama responds to criticism and attack is an important test. “As president, you’re going to get that every day,” Mr. Geer says.

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