It happens as seasonally as the falling leaves in autumn: Another presidential campaign – the current one much too early – a targeted single candidate by an aroused right-wing author, and even a temporary station on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list.
It’s traditional, folks, but with no evidence that the invasive literary onslaught ever works. Need some examples?
In 1964, the Birchers and ad hoc fringe historians vengefully went after Lyndon Johnson with J. Evetts Haley’s anti-communist diatribe “Texan looks at Lyndon” – an acidic volume that reportedly sold more copies in Texas than the Bible. Haley was a political activist who ran for president as a libertarian that year in the matchup between LBJ and Barry Goldwater. Both Haley and Goldwater were thrashed by LBJ.
There was also John Stormer’s “carefully documented story of America’s retreat from victory” over the commies, “None Dare Call it Treason” that was meant to leave Johnson dead after 14 printings.
Fast forward to President Obama’ second campaign, which may have set a record for scurrilous books from the Right. Leading the parade were Bill O’Reilly’s “Pinheads and Patriots: Where do you Stand in the Age of Obama” and Foxy’s Sean Hannity’s “Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda”. Other names tossed into the dreadful pile were Micelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and…I really can’t go on with the roundup of the usual suspects.
By now you might know where this is going. You may have seen the name Peter Schweizer, beloved by fiction buffs and billionaire hedge fund founder Robert Mercer. He’s written a soon-to-be published tome that reportedly scandalizes Hillary Clinton, the candidate of choice for this quadrennial book clubbing. His past attempts at political scholarship have been scorned by critics (see: MediaMatters) who believe that even in politics, a scattering of truth should remain. I can only add that Karl Rove went on Fox News with heavenly praise of Schweizer’s labors.
Fair warning. Schweizer will be the go-to guy for Fox News and the wide field of Republican presidential candidates who will shamelessly embrace him. But will it matter much that he has a long history, as MediaMatters put it, of “blatant errors, retractions, and reliance on sources that do not exist”?