AT A RECENT PARTY celebrating the expanded, paperback release of David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush, ("Updated with new lies!") Corn quoted the party's "quasi-conservative" sponsor. "I'm not endorsing the book per-se," he said. "I'm just supporting your right to say it." Someone from the crowd shouted, "In the second Bush administration you'll lose that!" The group chuckled and nodded their heads knowingly over their sweating glasses of white wine.
We've already said our piece about Corn's book and its brothers-in-arms, but what about those voices from the crowd? Who are the thousands of silent mosquitoes drawn to the light of Corn's anti-Bush bug zapper, or to Michael Moore's flame?
Corn's book has a website where the rank and file have their say. A quick spelunking expedition turns up a virtual crowd much nuttier than the (at least seemingly) sane people who populated Corn's book party--and much more fascinating.
The comments section on the BushLies.com blog is active, filled with admiring notices from Corn's fans. A recent post by Corn titled "I'm Attacked by The New York Times!" elicited more than 30 comments. Responses ranged from "I just came from seeing F 9-11 a second time and my impression on the 2nd time was different than the first," to "Fuck Kristof. He's a whore, as also are most of the other people who write for New York Times, with the glaring exception of Paul Krugman." And my personal favorite "Yes!!! You go, David Corn! Tell it! TESTIFY!!!! In your FACE, Kristof!!!"
In the comments on an earlier post, "How I Tried to Educate the Washington Post on the Al Qaeda Link" things got ugly. After informing his correspondent that he is "bla bla not listening bla bla blah," one poster writes: "Wingnut W defenders can not see the light - the cognative dissonance would tear them apart. 'Dear Leader lied . . . ? Blasphemy!!' The zeal of their defence speak volumes to their fear of being wrong about all of this. Pity them." [sic, sic, sic, and sic] He signs off the insight that "Debating with trolls is a waste of time" and wishes us "Peace, and Regime Change at Home."
These folks are the occasional posters and readers of BushLies.com. But the truly hardcore disdain the blog's comments section and talk amongst themselves in the website's forum.
These folks are not wedded to the specific topic of Bush's lies. Instead they enjoy chatting about a wide variety of issues. A recent note from a very frequent poster who uses the handle "machiavellis ghost" muses on the promises made to martyrs. "Think how crazy the 72 virgin promise really is. I think Mohammed would have been a great recruiter for our Military services. And they really believe that stuff?! 'hey guys, come join up with me and when ya die, um, yeah, you get 72 virgins!' yeah, thats the ticket." "Machiavelli" finishes off the thread with a query about whether the promised virgins would shave their armpits.
But however much they stray, the forum participants always come back to the main event. "Traitor" (yes, that his real alias, I can't make this stuff up) asks where the Bush administration, or "current group of crap," learned to "thumb its nose at the American people."
"Lookingforleadership" replies "they learned it from George Orwell, the Soviet Union, corporate america, the propaganda machine of the third reich, McNamara's defense dept., the confederacy, Joseph McCarthy, the inquisition, Salem witch trials, Klu Klux Klan, anyone who discovers that you can distort reality simply by saying something loud enough and often enough."
This is, of course, a tiny sliver of the population that will be voting against Bush in the fall. The comments above have been selected for their colorful nature and each of them were surrounded by dozens of perfectly sane remarks typed with excellent grammar and minimal use of exclamation marks. But the animating spirit is constant, and these comments come from the most devoted followers of opinion leaders like Corn and Moore.
These followers have been stewing in a sea of agreement about Bush's failings for the past year. At another point in his witty and mercifully brief remarks, Corn joked that his book party doubled as the Michael Moore pre-party, since many people were headed straight from the early evening event to a viewing of Fahrenheit 9/11. Bill Press's Bush Must Go was discussed, and Molly Ivins, author of Bushwhacked, provided a positive blurb for Corn's book.
It's not news that Americans who despise Bush are pumped up. But a glimpse into the world of digital correspondence between some of the wackier ones is just the thing to perk you up on a dull Wednesday during a dull campaign season.
Katherine Mangu-Ward is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.