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The Man Behind The Mask
by Andy Martin
(Click for Amazon book review)
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
It is very rare that I stop reading a book before I've finished. But with this book, I stopped reading before I finished -- and you should too! I started reading because Andy Martin is running for Senate in New Hampshire in the 2014 election. I stopped reading because I had to get on the Internet to figure out what was going on in this book. What I found there persuaded me to stop reading the rest of the book. It's THAT bad.
The structure of this book is a collection of columns that Andy Martin published on his blog, Contrarian Commentary, in the period 2004 to 2008. The columns all focus on Barack Obama, as he progressed through his Senate election and the presidential primaries. The book is separated into chapters such as "The Obama Family" and "Obama and Tony Rezko," i.e. focusing on each scandal rather than chronological. Martin focuses on Obama's religion ("born a Muslim but now a Christian," Martin claims to have discovered); and on numerous other "scandals" that Obama is associated with.
That structure is fine, but it assumes the reader recalls what was happening at the time of each event. Even during the 2008 presidential election, it was hard to recall the scandals of 2007; now, in 2014, it's impossible to follow. The author should have added notes to provide context for each column -- often they refer back to previous columns, but never is there any follow-up answering the questions posed and left unanswered. For example, the author posits: "America's media have supinely allowed Barry Obama to pretend he has no white relatives. Today the Chicago Tribune said 'the Obama campaign declined to make [his white grandmother] available.' Is she sick? Not apparently. Bedridden? Hospitalized? Not apparently. She is the 'Prisoner of Obama,' and of Obama's racist myth that he is 'Black' and not 'Black and White.' " (p. 35, dated 3/26/2007). The missing context is that the white grandmother, "Toot", died in November 2008 after a battle with cancer; the author omits that context, which became well-known by the publication of this book in June 2008. I concluded after several of these sorts of columns, "Well, OK, maybe I don't recall the events so well; the author is not obligated to write for future readers." As it turned out, the issue wasn't my lack of recall; it was that Martin is a confusing writer.
Mixed in among the columns there ARE plenty of notes written at the time of publication (June 2008, in time for Obama's election). But they don't deal with the events discussed -- they deal instead with the author's reputation. Or more specifically, with his very high view of himself. Beginning with the introduction: "I became something of a legend myself… a lonely voice of truth" (p. x), and culminating in his self-description, "Andy Martin becomes the most influential internet journalist in the world" (p. 283). On the back cover blurb, the Orange State Press describes Andy Martin as the "legendary Chicago Internet columnist," in case one doubted Martin's self-assessment. I concluded after several of these assertions of legend, "Well, OK, maybe I didn't hear of Martin on the political Internet because he's Chicago-based and I'm Boston-based." As it turned out, the issue wasn't my lack of familiarity; it's that Martin is not a legend.
After spotting numerous mentions of Obama's birth (Martin sued the state of Hawaii to provide a birth certificate, p. 398), and anti-Semitic references ("Dreams from my Father is Obama's Mein Kampf", p. 414), I decided that my confusion and lack of familiarity had to be checked, so I researched the Internet about Andy Martin. He's a perennial candidate who has run for Senate in three states now, and ran for president also, as well as numerous other offices. Perennial candidates can be part of OnTheIssues.org, but so many other oddities came to light, that the book began to make sense in this context of oddities:
Martin refers endlessly to his Contrarian Commentary blog as if it is a mainstay of the political Internet. I'm a card-carrying member of the political Internet, but I've never seen that blog cited anywhere except this book; it is currently an empty blog. To be thorough, I checked The Wayback Machine; indeed the blog was more active in 2007-2008, but it was almost all written by Andy Martin as his opinion pieces. Then I checked out his "publisher," Orange State Press -- that too is just another pen name for Andy Martin. This book is the only book that the Orange State Press has ever published. To be thorough, I checked The Wayback Machine on that too; nope, even back to 2007, the Orange State Press only has one publication to its name. Then finally, I checked out Andy Martin's Wikipedia page; his anti-Semitism on page 414 cited above was not just a passing reference, but the tip of a very large iceberg.
I felt defrauded. And I applied that feeling of being defrauded to the rest of what Martin has said in this book. And I stopped reading. The excerpts below should be plenty to satisfy your curiosity about what Martin has to say about Obama and Martin's opinions on the issues. If we had read this book before creating an Andy Martin page, we would not have created one (I checked the The Wayback Machine on ourselves too; we first posted his page on July 29, 2007, the same week this book was published, in covering his run for Senate in Illinois). We recommend as strongly as possible: do not read this book, and do not get caught up by Andy Martin's "candidacy", neither in New Hampshire nor in any state where he runs next.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, January 2014
The Man Behind The Mask
Page last edited: Dec 28, 2013