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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Corsi On the Outs

Nice to see everybody's catching up with where I've been for a year and a half now. Jon Henke says let's kick him out of the tent:

The continued tolerance and prominence of Jerome Corsi - his books, columns and appearances - is just embarrassing. It is embarrassing for the Right, embarrassing for Republicans, embarrassing for conservatives and libertarians, embarrassing for all of us.

It's not just that he's frequently, remarkably wrong - something pretty well documented and acknowledged by both the Left and (while less enthusiastically) the Right. (and the Obama campaign (PDF), of course) Both the Obama campaign and Hugh Hewitt acknowledge that Jerome Corsi is "fringe".

Ross Douthat:

I'm not big on ritual denunciations: I'd rather argue with people than read them out of the conversation, as a general rule, and I hope my distaste for certain styles of political discourse is clear enough without my having to publicly denounce Ann Coulter every time she pulls an offensive, sales-goosing stunt on live TV. But along with Jon Henke and Pete Wehner, I think it's worth making an exception in the case of Jerome Corsi's anti-Obama book, whose Amazon page won't be linked here. It isn't just that Corsi himself is a conspiracy theorist and a crank, or that his best-selling farrago of innuendo and outright smears exemplifies everything that's wrong with a certain sort of right-wing publishing, or that David Freddoso's The Case Against Barack Obama demonstrates that it's perfectly possible to write an anti-Obama book without descending into the fever swamps.

Here's Wehner:

Conservatism has been an intellectual home to people like Burke and Buckley. The GOP is the party that gave us Lincoln and Reagan. It seems to me that its leaders ought to make it clear that they find what Dr. Corsi is doing to be both wrong and repellent. To have their movement and their party associated with such a figure would be a terrible thing and it will only help the cause of those who hold both the GOP and the conservative movement in contempt.

Let me specify here that this is not about the bad blood between myself and Dr. Corsi. I make no bones about the fact that I dislike him, but that's not the issue. His conspiracy theorizing, first about the North American Union and later about 9-11 are.

Here's his response from WND:

"That the Obama campaign has chosen to portray me as a 9/11 Truther just shows how sloppy and inaccurate the research going into their rebuttal was," said Corsi, a senior staff writer for WND. "Let me make clear that I fully accept and endorse the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission that the Islamic hijackers who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the sole cause of the attack."

This is probably going to make no sense to most of you, but that is a non-denial denial. There are Truthers who accept the hijackers and the planes, they just think the government "made things worse" via controlled demolition.

"As I explained on the radio, I am typically interested in scientific evidence that lies outside the explanation of conventional hypotheses," he continued. "Science advances by rejecting hypotheses, not by establishing hypotheses. In other words, should somebody find convincing scientific evidence that challenges some aspect of any official report, that evidence will not automatically confirm the truth of an alternative hypothesis."

This is all very true. But the point is that the convincing scientific evidence does not exist to throw out the hypothesis that the heat from the burning office fires (not the jet fuel, that burned off fairly quickly) weakened the steel sufficiently that it could not hold up the weight of the building above it, and once that happened the building collapsed. Corsi made that leap to believing that Steven Jones was right, that hypothesis had been disproven. And it is not as if Steven Jones was not well-known; most of us had heard of the disgraced BYU physics professor who was forced to retire after his 9-11 nuttery got out. So why did Corsi endorse his work?

Update: Vox Day, a WND columnist, doesn't help Corsi any with this:

I don't have the answer, but I suspect that what Douthat and Dreher are attacking is Corsi himself, because if Corsi is credibly raising issues about Obama, as he previously did in the case of Kerry, then it's also entirely possible, if not downright probable, that he's credible with regards to the issues he's raised about the plans for the North American Union and what happened on 9/11. And that simply cannot be born; better an Obama presidency than the puncturing of their conventional political worldview.
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