The Campaign Spot

Why Does the Michelle Obama Tape Rumor Match a 2006 Novel?

Sometimes, this rumor of this alleged tape of Michelle Obama denouncing “whitey” sounds like something out of a clichéd political thriller novel.
Actually, it sounds exactly like something out of a clichéd political thriller novel. Specifically, Stephen Frey’s The Power Broker, published in 2006 by Ballantine Books.
A major plot line of the novel is the presidential campaign of Democrat Jesse Wood, aiming to be the country’s first African American president — “Wood was handsome, smart, charismatic, and being mentioned increasingly often in the press as someone who could unite a twenty-first century America growing more, not less, racially and economically divided.” (p.35)
He’s a U.S. Senator from New York and former senior partner at a prestigious law firm. His backers include “some of the old Black Panthers.” He wants to make Puerto Rico a state, and a recurring figure in his campaign is a controversial minister from Philadelphia called “Jefferson Roundtree.”
And by page 130, his opponents find a videotape that could ruin his candidacy…

The camera focused on Wood, who was standing with Clarence Osgood, Stephanie Childress, and another man.
“Who is that guy?” Johnson asked, taking a sip of soda. He’d known Osgood and Stephanie for a while so they were familiar to him right away. “He looks so damn fa-“ Johnson banged the sofa. “Now I remember. That’s Jefferson Roundtree, that activist minister from Philly.”
“Nut job from Philly is more like it,” Forte said. “We don’t want Jesse anywhere near him now, don’t want Jesse seen with him at all because he scares the crap out of whites. But he served his purpose here,” Forte added quietly.
“Boy, it’s a nice clear shot of Jesse-”
“Shh! Here it is, here it is.” Forte picked up the remote and turned up the volume.
The camera panned in on Wood’s handsome face as he turned to Roundtree. “Yeah, that Jew from CNN was such a pr***,” Wood said, smirking, “asking me about my voting record on civil rights.”
“You got it, brother,” Roundtree agreed heartily. “Like any cracker should have the nerve to ask you about that.”
Osgood and Stephanie nodded.
Then there were a few muffled words, but nothing audible…

[skipping over a few paragraphs of the bad guys discussing where to send the tape]

“It won’t be necessary believe me,” Forte interrupted again, pointing at the screen. “Keep watching.”
There was more muffled chatter, then Wood held his hands up.
He said, “You know, I had to put up with so much crap from Whitey when I was playing tennis back in the day, it was ridiculous. Real b****** stuff, too. Tennis racquets busted while I was in the shower, no towels, the worst locker, called n***** all the time, even by the help.” He looked over at Osgood. “I’m telling you, Clarence, if I get elected president, I’m gonna act the way I’m supposed to act in front of the camera. Smile and dance like a good black man, do what I’m expected to do like a good boy. But behind the scenes, I’ll f*** Whitey, and I’ll f*** him good, I really will.

Later the tape is used for blackmail by an ally, and then the real badguy — a Texan who owns a giant oil company named Hewitt (sorry, Hugh) — gets his hands on the tape. The description of the appropriate timing of the release of the videotape on p. 237 will sound familiar to those tracking the rumors of the alleged Michelle Obama tape.

Hewitt thought for a second. “I’m going to let Jesse win the nomination and let the public get used to him as the Democratic candidate. Give the country some time to get to know Jesse Wood, to start to like him. And they will because he’s a very likeable guy. Then I’m going to drop the bomb, after everyone’s started to like him. That way the clip will have maximum effect and people will be as angry as they can be. Whites and blacks. Whites for the obvious reason, blacks because they’ll feel like he let ‘em down.”

Now. Either author Stephen Frey is clairvoyant, writing this book in 2006. Or this is one of the all time amazing coincidences. Or whoever started this rumor got the idea from a novel.
(The tape is kept secret by getting even more incriminating videotape of the badguys and creating a mutually-assured destruction pact. In a subsequent novel, we learn Wood won the election.)
This unimaginable coincidence, coupled with Larry Johnson’s unnecessarily profane and unresponsive answer to David Weigel when he asked about contradictions in the description of what’s on the tape, ought to drive a stake into the heart of this rumor.
Why is a conservative blogger putting this much effort into dispelling a rumor that, on paper at least, would hurt Obama? Because those who prefer a president besides Obama should not go through the summer and fall convinced that a magic-bullet devastating tape is going to appear as an October surprise to save the day.
Also, there are a lot of good reasons to vote against Barack Obama; but what people claim Michelle Obama says on a tape that no one can produce and no one has seen isn’t one of them.

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