Right wing apparatchiks and bloggers are making ready to smear the eventual Democratic nominee, whether or not there's any substance to their smearing. They obviously expect Obama to be the eventual opponent for McCain because their preparations include a new website called "Rezkorama", which is anonymously registered but has clear ties to prominent conservative bloggers, including those behind the "Victory Caucus".
As Glenn Greenwald explained yesterday, Rezkorama is to be the Whitewater of the coming presidential campaign.
It's almost impossible now to find an article or news account about Obama that doesn't include some dark reference to the "Rezko" affair, always with the suggestion or even overt claim that it's reflective of some serious vulnerability, some suggestion of wrongdoing and corruption. But what is it? The reporters throwing the word around quite plainly have no idea.Today, via our traffic stats at Statcounter, I noticed incoming traffic from a link to Libby's post on Clinton's Vetted Interests from a new website, Rezkorama, which is an aggregator of stories and blogposts which might broadly be taken as being about Democratic corruption - no mention of McCain's own problems with lobbyists at all. Not recognising it, I decided to take a look - and then got curious enough to try to find out who was behind it.
Having paid only casual attention to it in the past, I spent several hours yesterday morning reading every "Rezko" article I could find in an attempt to understand as much as possible about the allegations. The point isn't that there is no credible evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Obama, although that's unquestionably true. It's far beyond that. There aren't even any theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what he might have done wrong at all. The person who is accused of wrongdoing is Tony Rezko, in matters unarguably having nothing to do with Obama. Nobody claims otherwise (although many try to imply otherwise).
The only substantive connections Obama and Rezko have is that the latter was a contributor to Obama's campaign and was a partner in a standard residential real-estate purchase which nobody suggests, at least in terms of Obama's conduct, was anything but above-board. But Rezko himself has a sinister-sounding, villain-like last name and is of Syrian origin, which, for multiple reasons, helps build the shallow media drama.
But Obama isn't even accused of -- let alone proven to have engaged in -- any wrongdoing at all.
Rezkorama.com was set up as a domain via GoDaddy by "Domains By Proxy", an anonymous domain registering company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's servers, however, are listed as NS.TRUTHLAIDBEAR.COM and NS2.TRUTHLAIDBEAR.COM.
The folks at Truth Laid Bear, who run the infamous "blog ecosystem" rankings, also did development work for Hugh Hewitt and Frank Gaffney's ludicrously hyped Victory Caucus - which likewise registered it's domain names through the same Arizona anonymizer owned by GoDaddy CEO and torture fan Bob Parsons.
The guy behind Truth Laid Bear, Rob Neppell, is a member of The Heritage Foundation's New Media Advisory Board and of the Victory Caucus. He, Hewitt and others were once described by the White House as saying what they're told to say.
It appears that Bush has now passed them on as part of his endorsement of McCain.
Update The NYT's Caucus blog reports that the RNC are in on the smear act too, buying up a couple of score of domain names which could be used to attack either Clinton or Obama and cyber-squatting on domains that could serve to attack McCain. It's going to be a dirty general election.
Update 2 You'll never guess where most of Rezkorama's referrals are coming from on this, it's first day in action. Hugh Hewitt's Townhall.com, according to SiteMeter. Hewitt has a post touting the creation of his Victory Caucus pal up today - and admitting that the site is the work of Rob Nepell. So much for anonymous domain's eh? Maybe they should've thought more about the hosting servers.
Update 3 In comments, Rob Neppell writes in response to the question of why use a domain anonymiser, saying that it's "A good question honestly -- I suppose old habits just die hard..."
Fair enough. I think in all fairness, in today's climate of smears, Rob can probably see why I wondered. But the question has been asked and answered and I'm not going to impune his direct statement. The Rezkorama website now includes attribution - "Concept: Hugh Hewitt Technology: Kithbridge" - that wasn't there this morning.
The bigger question is whether Rezkorama will actually serve a decent purpose - which it can only do if there really is a connection between Rezko and Obama that still needs to see the light of day - or whether such partisan-backed ventures simply smear by association.