26 October 2008

Rumor Central: The New Party

An item floating about the internet (and a current focus at NRO), claims that Senator Obama was once a member of a now-defunct political organization called "The New Party." The group defined itself as "progressive-left/social democratic." However, the recent rush of allegations against Obama's involvement in the New Party attempt to paint the group as a "socialist" organization, a characterization that Ben Smith and Ann Althouse, among others, take issue with.

The assertions about Obama's "membership" in the group stem from his name appearing in a 1996 New Party newsletter. According to the New Party's founder, Joel Rogers, "the line in the party newsletter appeared to refer to the fact that the party had endorsed him" (Smith).

Senator Obama has denied membership in the New Party via spokesman Ben LeBolt (Smith).

Added: Stanley Kurtz at The National Review objects to Smith's discussion of The New Party. Smith's reponse is here. Essentially, Smith argues that commentators have had the option of attacking Obama based on tenuous associations, "which relies on a mixture of inflation and outright error," or attacking Obama for his verifiable political history, as "the most liberal modern Democratic nominee and as the ally of an unappealing city machine." In Smith's view, too many have opted for the former.

It's a good point, and one that deserves closer attention. It seems that from the moment Obama won Iowa's caucus, his critics have chosen to pursue conspiracy theories (birth certificate, ACORN, homosexual sex, drugs, and murder, Ayers, radical Islam, the "whitey tape"/ "API tapes," and so on) rather than scrutinize the Senator's actual political history.
What's up with that?

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