Ghost Writers and Conservative Gullibility

The gullibility of conservatives, or more precisely their willingness to believe without bothering to fact check anything which confirms their biases, is amazing. David Weigel at The Washington Independent notes how Jonah Goldberg “falls hook, line and sinker for Bill Ayers’ joke about serving as Barack Obama’s ghostwriter.” I’m sure that for Ayers it was a fun way to mess with conservative heads by claiming he was the author of  Dreams From My Father. The story is spreading rapidly through the conservative blogosphere and media today with accounts such as the ones here and here.

This shows two common tendencies on the right wing. First, as I mentioned above, those guys will believe anything if it fits into their narrow worldview. This does lead many of them to sticking to their beliefs on topics such as foreign policy and economics despite overwhelming evidence against their views.  That’s also why conspiracy theories, denial of global warming, and belief in creationism are so common the right.

This also shows how the right tends to dwell on trivia. Rather than honestly discussing his policies, they attack Obama by claiming he is a Muslim, is not an American citizen, or that his book was ghost written. If there was any truth to the ridiculous claims about Obama’s citizenship this would create Constitutional issues, but otherwise most of their attacks simply do not matter very much.

When I first saw the headlines claiming Ayers admitted to writing Obama’s book, my thought was that even if this was not a joke it really would not  be that earth shattering. While Obama is the rare exception, it is very common for politicians and celebrities to use ghost writers. The choice of a ghost writer does not necessarily mean agreement on any issues or political tactics.

It is interesting that the right wing is going crazy over the idea that William Ayers might have ghost written a book for Obama, but have no concern over Sarah Palin’s choice of Lynn Vincent to write her book. Vincent is a far right evangelical Christian who is a creationist and has also been described as a white supremacist.

Update: While most of the conservative blogs I’ve read on this subject today are falling for it, there are rare exceptions such as Allahpundit and Patterico. Ed Morrissey also recognizes how meaningless this is.

Update II: While some conservatives are showing some sense on this matter, others such as Tom Maguire demonstrate the lack of thinking skills which I’m talking about here, beyond soaking up multiple previously debunked conservative  talking points as fact. With regards to the premise of this post he writes, “Mr. Chusid presents no facts at all in support of his biases.” Totally false if you look at the many posts here which address these topics. Typical of a right winger to resort to such a cheap shot–and typical of a right winger to be oblivious to the existence of actual facts.

He is also confused by the line containing “it is very common for politicians and celebrities to use ghost writers.” This does make this a matter of less than earth shattering significance in the case of someone who is currently a prominent politician such as Barack Obama. If anything, his lack of celebrity at the time the book was written makes it even less important.

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15 Comments

  1. 1
    Anonymous says:

    “When I first saw the headlines claiming Ayers admitted to writing Obama’s book, my thought was that even if this was not a joke it really would not  be that earth shattering. While Obama is the rare exception, it is very common for politicians and celebrities to use ghost writers. The choice of a ghost writer does not necessarily mean agreement on any issues or political tactics.
    It is interesting that the right wing is going crazy over the idea that William Ayers might have ghost written a book for Obama, but have no concern over Sarah Palin’s choice of Lynn Vincent to write her book.”

    Seriously, it wouldn’t be a big deal if it came out tomorrow that Ayers was the author?  Really?

    And if Palin wrote a book that drew literary praise, claimed it was all her own and then was outed I am sure you wouldn’t think that was news either.

    What happened to the reality based community?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “What happened to the reality based community?”

    We are interested in things that really matter, such as considering what Obama is proposing and their impact on the world at present. With regards to Sarah Palin, we are concerned about whether she would promote the teaching of creationism if elected president (either directly or through her Court appointees), but whether she used a creationist as a ghost writer is a comparatively minor concern.

    It isn’t only the “reality based community” which differentiates between real issues and the nonsense that many conservatives are overly preoccupied with. As I noted in the post, at least one conservative blogger agrees and calls this meaningless.

    As for Ayers, those who actually know him (as compared to Obama who has a much more limited connection to him), say that in recent years his views have been rather moderately left of center. While he would never be trusted in a major position of authority due to his background, finding that he once had the rather trivial role as ghost writer for a young center-left politician wouldn’t be all that big a shock. The right wing’s obsession with exaggerating Obama’s limited connection to Ayers is not only false, but not that big a deal.

    By the way, you have figured out the main point here, haven’t you, that there is no truth to this. Ayers was definitely playing with the head of a young female blogger, possibly trying to get into her pants, but certainly not giving a meaningful statement.

  3. 3
    Ernie Vogel says:

    #tcot » Ghost Writers and Conservative Gullibility Liberal Values http://bit.ly/2Q6S8k

  4. 4
    ehvogel says:

    #tcot » Ghost Writers and Conservative Gullibility Liberal Values http://bit.ly/2Q6S8k

  5. 5
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘With regards to the premise of this post he writes, “Mr. Chusid presents no facts at all in support of his biases.”’
     
    This is a very common right wing swipe. If one does respond with facts or point to facts, then the response is ‘but those are your opinions, not facts.’
     
    I hate to fall back on the oldest and cheapest philosophical trope, but in many ways the new right wing literary movement of the Internet and politics is fundamentally nihilist. They do not believe in the value of facts, but rather consider all positions to be a matter of opinion. Which automatically makes their opinions better, because they have the authority of faith and tradition. Fact-based arguments from logic are dismissed as elitist attempts by the left to claim opinion as fact.
     

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eclectic,

    What he is really missing is that a single blog post will never contain a fraction of the evidence supporting an opinion. It is easy to pretend that no facts are given to support one’s views when pointing to a single blog post and ignoring all the other posts one has written on a topic.

    As you note, this is especially ironic coming from such right wingers who often base their views on faith, and who often deny the validity of facts which prove them wrong.

    They certainly prove my points when continuing to spread their conspiracy theories about Obama.The “birthers” and the “ghosters” (who overlap considerably) both promote their conspiracy theories out of personal hatred of Obama without regard for the facts. The “ghosters” also prove my point about dwelling on trivia as opposed to the real issues as they continue to push such issues.

  7. 7
    Nick says:

    Dr. Chusid, also note that he demonstrates he is not a reader of your blog in referring to you as “Mr. Chusid,” and therefore he has no business commenting on whether your blog presents any facts. That’s unless he is judging on a single blog post–rather than looking at your multiple posts supported by facts on this topic– which is just intellectually dishonest on his part.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Nick,

    True, but the bigger issue remains that they continue to dwell on such ridiculous conspiracy theories at all.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Actually from a quick search it looks like he was here in the past–but showed a similar lack of regard for facts. He was repeating the lines of the Swift Boat Liars ages after they were debunked. He looks like someone who will believe any lie or conspiracy theory spread by the wingnuts against a Democrat.

  10. 10
    Nick says:

    I’m sure you realize it is a total waste of time to argue with such conspiracy theorists. They have all sorts of made up facts to pull out, as well as reasons to disregard any and all facts which prove them wrong.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Quite true. The Ayers stuff was pretty well debunked during the presidential campaign and it is not worth arguing over all over again. I did include a link to a Factcheck article debunking many of the conservative claims in one of the above updates.

  12. 12
    McCloud says:

    Who debunked the Ayers stuff, exactly?   I don’t recall a single major news outfit doing a feature on his/their background.   60 Minutes?  Dateline?  Don’t recall it.  And Ayers dummied up tighter than Charlie McCarthy on a break while the Times was up in Wasilla searching for the news fit to print from Sarah’s dumpster.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    “60 Minutes? Dateline?”

    That’s your idea of how to get news? Broadcast media, with the exception of NPR, is virtually worthless to get much beyond the headlines. Perhaps if you read newspapers you would have realized that the nonsense being said on Fox and talk radio is false.

  14. 14
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘What he is really missing is that a single blog post will never contain a fraction of the evidence supporting an opinion. It is easy to pretend that no facts are given to support one’s views when pointing to a single blog post and ignoring all the other posts one has written on a topic.’
     
    Oh, certainly true. I repeatedly fail the elevator test every time I post on my own blog and in many of my comments on other blogs. Yet I don’t come close to including every bit of information available everywhere to back up every statement I make or refute every statement I attack. This is despite being, I’d venture to guess, having one of the highest word counts per post on the ‘net.
     
    ‘As you note, this is especially ironic coming from such right wingers who often base their views on faith, and who often deny the validity of facts which prove them wrong.’
     
    And this is really precisely what I am getting at. Even if one could magically include all the data in a single blog post it would simply not matter. There appears to be an intellectual subjectivism at work among today’s conservatives. There is a consensus that appears to believe (and this could well be a straw man, as this is pure deduction and inference on my part) there are no hard facts in politics and everything is a matter of opinion, therefore logical arguments are meaningless.
     
    This used to be a problem of the religious right alone, and even some with certain loyalties to the religious right (Buckley, for instance), had a strong regard for the relevance of facts. The stark positivism of the religious right, however, appears to be creeping more and more deeply into the conservative movement as a whole. Even secular conservatives theoretically at odds with the religious right appear to share its faith in ‘truth’ and yet disregard the value of ‘facts.’ Some of them, despite all evidence, even deny the existence of the religious right and accept the religious right’s tropes about secularism.
     

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    I don’t think it is so much that the right opposes the idea of facts that they don’t understand what facts are. They don’t understand science, leading them to place more weight on religious views and bogus objections to evolution from the Discovery Institute than on the scientific evidence they do not understand. Similarly they believe that the claims which originated with the petroleum industry are more trustworthy than scientific arguments. Of course there is a strong component of  believing what they want to believe as fact.

    They also confuse claims which are repeated in the right wing echo chamber as facts. They believe that what they hear on Fox and talk radio is true, and distrust the legitimate media as presenting liberal bias. They also tend to lack any interest in fact checking, so it doesn’t matter how much stronger the evidence is for the truth as opposed to what is being spread by the right wing.

    They “know” that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya who had a ghost writer and who had strong ties to William Ayers. To them these are “facts” even if actual facts contradict this.

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