Is Obama Responsible for “McCain is Senile” Rumors?

My.Barackobama.com is a convenient platform for spreading them.

It has been argued that Barack Obama is not responsible for the anti-Semitic hate speech that keeps showing up on his official campaign Web site at my.barackobama.com. The site even includes a very convenient escape clause with which it seeks to evade responsibility for hate speech, outright libel, and similar content.

    We have the right, in our sole discretion, to edit, refuse to post or remove any material submitted to or posted on our Website including, but not limited to, material that is unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, graphic, or otherwise objectionable.

The campaign’s assertion (and exercise) of a right to exercise editorial control, “in our sole discretion,” does not absolve it of responsibility for the content; it makes it 100 percent responsible for the content. This includes a vicious rumor to the effect that John McCain has an age-related neurodegenrative disease. Before we continue, we understand that repetition of this rumor, even for the purpose of condemnation, gives it wider publicity. We must therefore add up front that Barack Obama’s history of cocaine use places him at higher risk for mental impairment while rendering him unfit to control nuclear weapons.

Several people have attempted to absolve Barack Obama’s campaign of responsibility for racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and ageist hate speech at my.barackobama.com. Their principal arguments are as follows.

    (1) The content comes from the site’s users and not Obama campaign staffers.

    (2) The site’s moderators cannot review all the postings for hate speech, libel, and similar content. They must rely on users to bring it to their attention.

    (3) The hate speech may have been posted by Obama’s enemies to make him look bad.

It is quite possible that some of the more egregious hate speech, such as “throw the Jews in the oven,” came from agents provacateur who seek to make Obama’s site look bad. Since they know we and others are searching the site for hate speech, they might think it clever to plant this kind of material for us to discover. On the other hand, much of this material (e.g. Tony Wicher’s piece with terms like “Jewish Lobby” and “Zionist thought police”) was there long before we began to search the site for this kind of material. The same goes for the vicious statement about McCain that we cite below; it has been there for more than four months. There is no way to determine how much hate speech was planted by agents provacateur and how much came from genuine Obama supporters who hate Jews, people over 50, white people, African-American Hillary Clinton supporters, and so on, but that is not our problem. We do not get paid to moderate Obama’s Web site or manage his public relations.

The above argument can easily be turned around. A search of site:barackobama.com for “McCain” and “Alzheimer’s” or “McCain” and “senile” turns up literally hundreds of pages. One linked to a YouTube video that included a song about a silver haired old mother in an old rocking chair. How do we know that some of these entries did not come from Obama campaign staffers who post to the site anonymously, possibly under multiple accounts?

If Obama wanted to spread a rumor to the effect that McCain has an age-related neurodegenrative disease, he wouldn’t dare associate his own name with it because he would enrage senior citizens plus everybody who hopes to become one some day (noting that the alternative to becoming a senior citizen involves the undertaker). He would instead have campaign staffers post this material to a site with “user generated content” and the disclaimer, “Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign.” He could therefore reap the benefits of this vicious rumor without suffering the consequences, and it is past time that we at least discuss this possibility.

As just one example:

    McCain: senile dementia?!
    By Viva Obama – Mar 23rd, 2008 at 5:14 pm EDT
    Comments | Mail to a Friend | Report Objectionable Content

    Senile Dementia (according to webster’s new college dictionary) is the progressive, premature deterioration of mental faculties and emotional stability in old age.

    Unlike his 95 year old mother, 71 year old John McCain seems to be displaying a serious case of senile dementia which in all honesty disqualifies him for the position of commander-in-chief of any country. We should request a full mental and physical check of this man from independent and non-partisan doctors. Or maybe not, afterall he demonstrates this on a daily basis for all to see. The proof is in the pudding (or the youtube videos below). A flipflopper or a senile man or both, you be the judge.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbrejLsixwk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeBw28tX5Nw&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWj33EAg80E

    Also visit http://www.therealmccain.com

    Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign.

“Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign” is pretty damned convenient for something like this, isn’t it? It allows someone who calls himself or herself “Viva Obama” to promote a rumor that John McCain has an age-related neurodegenerative disease while disclaiming all responsibility. Obama himself, if he had time, could open a dozen accounts on his own site, each with a different name, from which to post this kind of material. Since he doesn’t have time, he could delegate the job to a paid campaign staffer.

We have some self-education in psychological warfare, and it is easy to see what is going on. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith) cites three forms of propaganda.

(1) White propaganda identifies its source accurately. An official statement or ad from a political campaign is white propaganda. Our statement that cocaine is a risk factor for mental impairment is white propaganda because, unlike “Viva Obama,” we signed our real name to it.

(2) Gray propaganda does not identify its source. An anonymous leaflet is gray propaganda. Its credibility with an intelligent reader depends, of course, on whether the reader can verify its claims independently. On the other hand, the most outrageous lie can deceive an unintelligent one, or one who is too lazy to check out the story for himself. This could be the intention of the “McCain is senile” material at Obama’s Web site.

(3) Black propaganda means effectively signing someone else’s name to one’s own propaganda. As an example, a phony and offensive YouTube video in which someone presents a racist tirade and then dubs in, “I’m John McCain, and I approved this ad,” or “I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this ad,” would be black propaganda (and possibly a violation of election laws, although we are not qualified to give legal advice). As another example, Imperial Japan dropped leaflets on the Philippines that warned American soldiers against getting venereal diseases from the promiscuous Filipino women. The leaflets were “signed” by the U.S. Army, and their purpose was to enrage Filipinos by suggesting that their women were effectively prostitutes.

It is therefore obvious that My.BarackObama.com, with its disclaimer “Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign” is in fact a very convenient platform from which Obama’s campaign staff can post gray propaganda, possibly under numerous anonymous screen names, in the hope that other site users will circulate them. The campaign could therefore benefit from the rumor without any consequences for propagating it.

This is not an accusation, because we have no way of knowing who “Viva Obama” or the other purveyors of this rumor are. The point is that Obama’s defenders have argued that “anyone can come here and post offensive material to slime the campaign.” The other side of that coin is that Obama’s staffers can just as easily post anti-McCain gray propaganda in the hope that it will spread through viral E-mail and similar media. There is no way to know for sure one way or the other, but the bottom line is as follows:

Obama for America exercises editorial control over the site, and it says openly, “We have the right, in our sole discretion, to edit, refuse to post or remove any material submitted to or posted on our Website.” The argument that the moderators can’t review every posting is a very convenient way to dodge responsibility for hate speech, and it might even be a convenient way to use My.BarackObama.com as a platform for gray propaganda that John McCain has an age-related neurodegenerative disease. The disclaimer, “”Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign” also sounds like a convenient excuse, but it is no excuse at all. The bottom line is that each page says “Paid For by Obama For America,” and that means Barry owns the hate speech and the McCain rumors lock, stock, and barrel.

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4 Responses to “Is Obama Responsible for “McCain is Senile” Rumors?”

  1. Obama Campaign Site: Hillary Clinton a “Self-Serving Bitch” « The Husaria Says:

    […] it had they wanted to do so. They apparently sanction this kind of thing, just as they sanction implications that John McCain has an age-related neurodegenerative disease (assuming that the moderators did not post these rumors themselves under multiple screen names to […]

  2. Obama Campaign Site: Hillary Clinton a “Self-Serving Bitch” | Grizzly Groundswell Says:

    […] it had they wanted to do so. They apparently sanction this kind of thing, just as they sanction implications that John McCain has an age-related neurodegenerative disease (assuming that the moderators did not post these rumors themselves under multiple screen names to […]

  3. sharihodges Says:

    You obviously never spent much time in an alzheimer’s facility and met people with dementia – I’m not even registered to vote and I can easily tell McCain has dementia – I don’t even read the Obama references

    alzheimer’s patients can be very coherent, sound perfectly fine, look perfectly fine, in the early stages they’re just not dependable when it’s important to be dependable, and the condition rapidly deteriorates – McCain has had dementia for some time, he’s about 2 years into it – he’ll have a meltdown in front of the cameras and that will be it

  4. wingedhussar1683 Says:

    Re: “I’m not even registered to vote and I can easily tell McCain has dementia”

    Even if you were a doctor, your delivery of such a diagnosis without actual examination of the patient would probably constitute unprofessional conduct. The Obama site features a “retired geriatric doctor” (conveniently retired so, even if he is really an MD, he is not subject to disciplinary action by a medical board) who makes the same “diagnosis.”

    How about Obama’s slip, “My Muslim faith?” Does that mean he has early onset Alzheimer’s, or is his brain just messed up from the cocaine he says he snorted in his youth?

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