Obama, The Jewish Lobby, and the Perils of Web 2.0

One of Barack Obama’s key advantages in building grassroots support, especially among young people usually not apt to vote, has been his innovative use of the latest Web techniques, including the integration of social networking technologies. Not only did he lap the field in getting “friends” on Facebook and MySpace but he actually hired the guy who invented Facebook to work for him. This translated into a viral campaign and certainly boosted a staggering fundraising haul. Obama may have, as Micah Sifry suggests, built something that will sustain itself even after the campaign is over.

The down side of this, as anyone who has run a blog with open comments knows, any yahoo can put whatever they want on the site and some will naturally blame the site host for those comments. Charles Johnson knows that better than perhaps anyone, as one of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse and the owner of perhaps the most controversial comments section of the Right Blogosphere.

Obama How Jewish Lobby Works Screencap Johnson has joined John Hinderacker, Pam Gellar, seeDubya (at Michelle Malkin), Carl in Jerusalem, Stacy McCain, Doug Ross and many, many others in decrying an anti-Semitic screed on “How the Jewish Lobby Works” that appeared on the site for several hours until a blogstorm erupted and the site moderators took that down and apparently started a major effort to scrub the site for other potentially embarrassing content. Which, naturally, spawned charges of a cover-up.

Marc Danziger, Patrick Frey, Sean Hackbarth, Patrick Ruffini and others have very calm, rational takes on this that I hope will spread as the facts come out.

Danziger also has several good suggestions for Team Obama and any other institutional site which allows diaries and comments. Striking a balance between an energetic, open discussion and protecting the brand is difficult. MyObama has leaned too far towards the former and is apparently now correcting course. They’ve certainly got the resources to do that and they would have been foolish not to at this stage. And, it would seem, the McCain campaign needs to follow suit. The fact of the matter is that most people have no clue how these sites work and it’s far too easy to demagogue these incidents to take the risk of an absolute free-for-all under your logo if you’re running for high office.

UPDATE: Cernig and mattbastard suspect foul play involving Ron Paul, cutting-and-pasting, and some amorous rodents. No, seriously.

Yet another reason to monitor what’s being posted on one’s site.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2008, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Whatever else might be said that shields Obama from the ugliness displayed, however breifly on his site, there is one question they will not dare to address…. how it is that so much hate can be found among his supporters.

    And as a bonus, how he lpans to unite is in the face of such hate. Personally, I’ve always figured there are some folks I’d rather not be united with.

    This goes a long way, also, to dismantling his arguments about Iran and how he’d like the US to deal with them. His own supporters, in my view, provide rancid proof that there are some people who lack the brains to be negotiated with.

  2. Cernig says:

    Not so fast. The anti-semitic post and its hateful comments were ported directly over from the rightwing Real Jew News site; the names and time stamps weren’t even changed to protect the innocent. Only two comments were made on the actual Obama site – and they were both complaints about the post.

    Posts on the original website suggest that he’s not an Obama supporter at all. He calls Obama a ‘patsy candidate” for the AIPAC lobby. If anything, he appears to be a Ron paul supporter, with catagory titles on his home site like “Is Ron Paul Too ‘American’ For The Jews?”, “Will Jew-Owned Fed Reserve Bank Kill Ron Paul?” and “The Jewish Media Blackout Of Ron Paul’s Campaign” The author hates George Soros, loves Billy Graham and thinks homosexuality is a Jewish conspiracy. He doesn’t sound like an Obama supporter, or even a socialist, to me.

    The author of the post, real name Milton Kapner, was paid $1,200 by the Ron Paul campaign in March. His old website shows him alongside protestors haolding placards saying “stop the ACLU”.

    This guy has zero to do with Obama supporters, he’s just using the open registration of the site to further his own nastiness.

    Regards, C

  3. Bithead says:

    Not so fast, yourself.

    Perhaps it’s not as right wing as you imagine.
    Your charge of ‘dity tricks’ only works if you accept that nobody on the left can hold such views. The support Obama has gotten from Islamic militancy groups reports otherwise.

  4. Anon says:

    Bithead, did you click the link James provided about McCain’s site? A few bad apples among anyone’s supporters, liberal or conservative, are to be expected.

    Also, your argument about negotiations is thus: One of Obama’s supporters is a wacko, therefore we should never talk to heads of states without preconditions, because they might also be wackos.

    (Note that I’m not actually in favor of talks without preconditions.)

  5. No, this is far right. As in Nathanael even tried peddling his intellectual wares to Stormfront (those in the know on the Ron Paul saga should recognize that name. Also, members having received death threats from its members should also be familiar for different reasons… ahem).

    Not ours,

    Also, check out the Jed Report who spent thirty minutes search McCain’s website and found some ugly stuff there too. Not as an attack on McCain, of course, but instead as merely a showing that EVERY open internet system is going to attract trash.

    Would provide links, but I’m stretched thin, and you guys know how to use google.

  6. Bithead says:

    Bithead, did you click the link James provided about McCain’s site? A few bad apples among anyone’s supporters, liberal or conservative, are to be expected

    Of course… but Obama seems to be getting more than his share. And I must ask if you’d be quite so forgiving were such comments found on McCain’s site, or on an RNC site.

    I tend to doubt it.

    As to being right or left, I doubt there are many who would attribute the views of Militant Islam to the left, and yet they support Obama. So, spare us the label guns, huh?

  7. cian says:

    Of course… but Obama seems to be getting more than his share. And I must ask if you’d be quite so forgiving were such comments found on McCain’s site, or on an RNC site.

    Funnily enough, such comments can be found on McCain’s site:

    “I wype my ass with the Muslim book of hate- the Quran”

    “Obama is a Muslim fag”

    “Barach (sic) Obama is the devil. Please, my friends, understand this and turn to God”

    All of the above statements can be found on McCain’ site, along with a detailed discussion on whether Obama is the anti-Christ or not.

    Only an idiot would suggest such comments reflect McCain’s thinking in any way.

    Sadly, the right seems to be awash with them at the moment

  8. tas says:

    Your charge of ‘dity tricks’ only works if you accept that nobody on the left can hold such views.

    Anybody who claims to be on either side of the political fence will harbor such views. So this point of yours isn’t valid. Just because a few nutjobs out there are anti-semitic and claim to be on the left doesn’t mean that Obama is the anti-semite candidate — it means there are a few nutjobs out there. Furthermore, Obama’s campaign site is a community blog that anybody can post to. So if an anti-semitic post is made — which could have been made by anybody — you can’t point to it and say, “Look, Obama hates Jews!” because the post could have been made by anybody.

    This is all pretty basic stuff here. If you don’t have a grasp of internet technology and social networking like this, then maybe you should think twice about posting on these matters until you have the requisite knowledge to comment coherently and intelligently.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Trolls have been at work. Big deal. Though no doubt this was the biggest thrill of Bit’s year…

    comment coherently and intelligently

    The world waits…

  10. Anon says:

    Of course… but Obama seems to be getting more than his share. And I must ask if you’d be quite so forgiving were such comments found on McCain’s site, or on an RNC site.

    I tend to doubt it.

    Actually, I don’t give a rat’s ass about any random posts on anyone’s site. If a reputable organization did an actual survey that showed a significant correlation with anti-Semitism and support for McCain, then I would at least look at it. And I’d read thoughtful bloggers on the right to see what they thought, such as OTB, Stephen Bainbridge, etc., just to make sure that I got a balanced opinion. And even if I decided that the correlation was real, I would be fully aware that such a correlation, by itself, does not imply that McCain himself is anti-Semitic, nor does it directly reflect on his suitability to be POTUS, nor does it say anything about whether or not we should hold high-level talks with Iran.

    But if some lefty blogger said: “Oh look, someone posted an anti-Semitic remark on McCain’s site. What a complete OUTRAGE!”, I’d not even bother to click on the link.

  11. Bithead says:

    Anybody who claims to be on either side of the political fence will harbor such views. So this point of yours isn’t valid.

    You sure you wanna go here?

    Just because a few nutjobs out there are anti-semitic and claim to be on the left doesn’t mean that Obama is the anti-semite candidate — it means there are a few nutjobs out there. Furthermore, Obama’s campaign site is a community blog that anybody can post to. So if an anti-semitic post is made — which could have been made by anybody — you can’t point to it and say, “Look, Obama hates Jews!” because the post could have been made by anybody.

    (Sigh) Fine.
    Study with care, the situation with Jerry Wright as it developed, and tell me how his reaction to that situation meshes with your statements, here.

    If you don’t have a grasp of internet technology and social networking like this,

    … perhaps I should be running for Presdient as a Democrat? It seems clear that Obama and his people didn’t consider that exact point. This stuff is entirely predictable, and avoidable. That they did not avoid it shows a lack of judegment I want nowhere near the White House.

    And somehow, the ‘everyone does it’ defense rings hollow, sorry.

  12. Anon says:

    Question: Why should McCain be president rather than Obama?

    Paraphrased Bithead: Obama didn’t moderate his web site closely enough for wackjobs. That shows a lack of judgement, and unsuitability to be President.

    Question: Aren’t there also wackjob posts on McCain’s site?

    Bithead: “the ‘everyone does it’ defense rings hollow, sorry.”

  13. Bithead says:

    Paraphrased Bithead: Obama didn’t moderate his web site closely enough for wackjobs. That shows a lack of judgement, and unsuitability to be President.

    Actually, it’s of a kind with many other such omissions of good judgement, many of which have been pointed out here.

  14. […] while Eric’s in the corner being a racist.* But seriously, when I read that a Ron Paul supporter was cross-posting anti-semitic material to Obama’s social networking site, I reacted as […]

  15. anjin-san says:

    This sort of thing is unfortunate, but the alternative is the Bush model.

    The president does not talk to people who are not billionaires, or useful for photo ops. The president does not enter a room that has not been sanitized to prevent any possibility of dissent or opposing views.

  16. This sort of thing is unfortunate, but the alternative is the Bush model.

    Sen. Obama’s events are much like that. They certainly aren’t like McCain’s town hall meetings. And don’t forget his interaction with the press. To him eight questions about Tony Rezko were enough for him. And where are Obama’s weblogger calls? He’s certainly not as open as McCain.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Sen. Obama’s events are much like that

    Documentation?

  18. Bithead says:

    The president does not talk to people who are not billionaires, or useful for photo ops. The president does not enter a room that has not been sanitized to prevent any possibility of dissent or opposing views.

    So, Bill Clinton is back?

  19. anjin-san says:

    So, Bill Clinton is back?

    Eight years out, Bit remains in his darkened room, rocking back and forth, muttering Clinton’s name…

  20. Bithead says:

    Eight years out, Anjin remains in his darkened room, rocking back and forth, still annoyed that Clinton provides the perfect example of why not to vote Democrat

  21. anjin-san says:

    Yea, that peace and prosperity under Clinton sucked all right!

    Oh and bit, don’t be a hack… try and come up with something clever on your own.

  22. Bithead says:

    Yea, that peace and prosperity under Clinton sucked all right!

    Peace?
    So, you ignore al-Quieda had already declared a state of war? You ignore Somolia. You ignore Bosnia. You ignore Ecuador and Peru. You ignore Yugoslavia. You ignore Operation Desert Focus. You ignore Operation Desert Strike. You ignore Central Afrida in 96. You ignore Liberia. And you ignore continuous military action in Iraq since 1996. You ignore action in Albania in 97 and 98 and you ignore Macedonia in 98. You ignore Kosovo in 98. You ignore Sudan in 98, and afghanistan in 98. You ignore Serbia. You ignore East Timor.

    Under Bill Clinton, the US military was in fact sent on more missions than they had been under any president.

    This is ‘peace’?
    Why, because the press said it was?

    Do you ever think for yourself?

  23. Bithead says:

    Oh… and you ignore the first WTC attack, executed under an al-Quieda declaration of war, which Clinton falsely treated as a criminal act?

  24. anjin-san says:

    Clinton locked up the WTC 1 crew, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for Bush and Bin Laden.

    Yes, there were military actions under Clinton. Peace is a relative thing. It has not existed in an absolute from since cave men started hitting each other with rocks.

    The fact remains that the Clinton years were a good time for America, there was prosperity, and “relative” peace, which is as good as we are ever going to get.

    The Reagan years were good ones too. Good leadership does that for a country. Unlike the Bush years, which have sucked almost since the moment he sat down in the oval office for the first time.

    “Ok, You’ve covered your ass”

    Pres. Bush to Intelligence briefer warning him “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”.