The Economist, that august, conservative British publication about economics, endorsed Barack Obama for president. (I added highlights, below):
IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.
For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.
We face tough issues, and tough times. The world’s economy is in a fix, America is involved in two protracted wars, our reputation internationally is at a low ebb for the past 125 years, and too many of America’s institutions just are not working.
Serious issues won’t stop the hoaxsters from trying to hoax Americans about Barack Obama right up to election day, and probably beyond.
For example, there’s a guy named Mitchell Langbert, who insists that there remains an issue about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He goes so far as to claim that Obama might be committing fraud merely by running for office, and then he stretches a biased assessment of U.S. election law to say Obama’s running is a violation of voters’ rights. The birth certificate hoaxers roll on despite their nuisance lawsuits being dismissed solidly in at least two jurisdictions, and despite the complete lack of any cogent or coherent case that there is a problem with Obama’s citizenship.
Consider this: Obama’s birth was recorded by the State of Hawaii, in Hawaii, in 1961. As many newspapers did at the time, the Honolulu Advertiser listed births in the state, and it listed Barack Obama’s birth there. This issue would have been checked again on at least three occasions. First, when he applied for his own passport, the U.S. State Department would have required a showing of a birth certificate. Second, when he applied for a law license, he had to make such a showing to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (as we all did); I haven’t checked, but Illinois may have required a separate confirmation. And third, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, the FBI would have checked the issue in their routine checkings of senators for top secret clearances (Obama is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, where secret information is often passed to senators).
Finally, it is the duty of the state secretary of state (SOS) to verify that candidates are eligible for listing on the ballots. I suspect most SOS offices take a certification from the candidate without much checking; however, what this means is that the SOS is the person who would have authority to challenge for citizenship. Knowing that they have no case, none of the birth certificate hoaxers, not Langbert or Texas Darlin’, nor anyone else, has bothered to ask their SOS to check things out.
Other hoaxers are worse, creating whole cloth fictions, just for the sake of malice. (See here, too, for a solid example of just plain malice in hoaxing.)
Remember the 7 Signs of Bogus History? (You’ll find a link just under the masthead here.) The first is that the work is conducted by press release, and not in the archives, or in serious searches for the facts. Each of these anti-Obama hoaxes originates either with a press release or a blog post. Not one has withstood scrutiny of any court, nor of any editor at any serious mass media outlet who seriously worries about libel, slander, or otherwise getting the facts straight. That’s a serious indictment.
Gone are the days when one needed a printing press at least to make one’s views known broadly. Web tools, like the blogging software and servers used by this blog, allow any fool (as I may well be) to throw his hat, brain too often included, into the public arena as a pundit.
The Economist conclude in their endorsement editorial:
He has earned it
So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.
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Update, November 2, 2008: Langbert appears to be censoring comments at his blog, as well – none of my responses other than my first post have been allowed to get through his personal filtering. This is a pattern we’ve seen in many of the hoax blogs that complain about Obama, and the McCain sympathizer blogs that pose as disgruntled Democrat blogs. Any post that offers serious criticism is dangerous to their posing as informed seekers of the truth — so posts that contain real information rebutting their claims are not allowed through their “moderation,” or are edited to say inane things.
For Obama voters, this confirms their fears that a McCain administration would probably continue the Bush administration’s suppression of views and filtering of helpful criticism. Also, it means bloggers like Langbert are bullies who can’t take the hurly-burly of serious discussion.