In addition to the relentless onslaught of mostly negative ads from the Romney and Obama campaigns and their affiliated "super PACs," the good people of Ohio are finding themselves targeted by a right-wing conspiracy maven who is dispensing a DVD that pushes beyond the birthers into a new level of paranoid fantasy.
"Dreams From My Real Father" is being sent to 1 million Ohio voters. The DVD makes the claim that, rather than being the son of a student from Kenya, the president was sired by a communist from Chicago named Frank Marshall Davis. Tens of thousands of lucky citizens of Nevada and New Hampshire have also found the DVD in the mail, thanks to the film's director and producer, Joel Gilbert.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Gilbert said his company, Highway 61 Entertainment, is making money from this film, even though he is giving so many copies away. He would not say who is paying for dissemination of all those free discs.
PHOTOS: Top of the Ticket cartoons
"We're a private media company, a journalistic company that's privately held and we don't disclose the nature or makeup of our finances," he told BuzzFeed.
Well, the claim to be a "journalistic" organization is about as dubious as the claim that Obama is the offspring of a commie. Still, if Gilbert were merely out to make money with this stuff, that at least would be an understandable explanation for why a person would peddle such a fabrication. But Gilbert seems to really believe it. A video on Gilbert's website shows him talking to an unspecified group at the National Press Club and seeming very earnest about his contention that Obama was groomed from childhood as a revolutionary Marxist.
If Obama wins reelection, one would assume that, after he leaves office in January 2017 and the United States is still a free society with a capitalist economy, the conspiracy theorists will finally admit they were wrong -- but I would not count on it. Conservative Christian groups that, four years ago, predicted Obama would have revealed himself as some version of the Antichrist by now have simply adjusted their schedule for the looming victory of Satan. In the same way, the paranoid imagineers of the right will come up with some creative explanation for why Obama, having achieved the nefarious goal for which he was secretly trained, ended up governing only slightly to the left of Bob Dole.
The list of nutty fabrications about Obama, his administration and Democrats is long. Here's a small sample from FactCheck.org:
• Obama intends to force a complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens through a United Nations treaty. Total paranoid fantasy -- Obama has actually broadened the number of places where citizens can carry guns.
• Barack and Michelle Obama surrendered their law licenses to avoid ethics charges. Another big lie.
• This dictatorial president has issued 900 executive orders, some creating martial law. Wrong -- he's signed 139 executive orders, none establishing extraordinary powers.
• The government bought 79% of the vehicles sold by General Motors in June. Nope, completely false.
• The Democratic National Convention hosted a Muslim prayer service while rejecting prayers from a Catholic cardinal. Another falsehood -- the Muslim service took place in a park and the cardinal gave the convention's final prayer.
• Obama plans to deny emergency brain surgery to patients over 70, do away with the National Day of Prayer and get rid of the White House Christmas tree. Once again, lie, lie, lie.
PHOTOS: Top of the Ticket cartoons
The list of fibs goes on and on and on. It is bad enough that somebody out there is busy whipping up this stream of mendacity to skew the political debate; it is worse that so many millions of Americans willingly believe this lunacy because they cannot accept that Obama is a legitimate, real American president. Worst of all are the many Republican Congress members and candidates who not only fail to speak out against this craziness from their supporters, but too often give legitimacy to the lies by eagerly repeating them.