Could Barack Obama be done in by a particularly effective dirty trick video? Start with a sponsor having a secret agenda, add in an attractive 23-year-old and a completely different, hot-button issue, spread that message far and wide, and bingo! You've got a whole new game.
Back in late September, a 19-minute video appeared online. Within three days, it had more than 650,000 views. Glenn Beck's website, the Blaze, highlighted it. And now, millions have seen it.
The video, titled "Absolutely Uncertain," opens with an attractive young woman walking down a Manhattan street, her assets proudly bouncing. She's identified only as "Irina, 23" -- and she says she's Jewish, liberal, a onetime Obama backer who now doesn't trust him to protect Israel. The rest is a pastiche of Irina's "research," disturbingly portentous moments like "Barack Hussein Obama" being sworn in, former NY mayor Ed Koch saying Obama has sabotaged US-Israel relations, crazed Arab mobs, burning American flags, and characterizations of terrified Israelis readying gas masks and bomb shelters in anticipation of an Israeli nuclear attack. Furthermore, says Irina, she's noticed that the once-vaunted Arab Spring is looking increasingly sinister, unleashing fearsome elements.
It's enough to alarm all kinds of people, and not just Jewish voters. Because beneath the literal message one gleans a barely subliminal one: Obama is some kind of Third Column agent, a real danger not just to Israel's safety and well-being, but to America's. The video has gotten plenty of play. It had already gotten 650,000 views in just three days in late September when Glenn Beck's site The Blaze picked it up and boosted it -- and has since rocketed to more than two million views to date.
As the now-legendary Muslim-baiting video shows us, we'd do well to pry a bit into how these productions came about. In seeking to learn more about the origins of the video, we tracked down "Irina," whose real name is Irina Kot, and asked to interview her. After some back-and-forth via email, in which she wanted to see our questions in advance, she decided to decline, and has not responded to follow-up messages.
That someone so outspoken and public in her film role should be so reticent struck us as odd. So we looked further. We focused on the brief identifier at the end of the video: PAID FOR BY RIGHTCHANGE.COM II, INC.
Of course, those concerned about the Middle East or foreign policy certainly have every right to broadcast their views. Where this particular story gets interesting, though, is the evidence that those behind the video have a very different agenda than peace and security in the Middle East. Unlike Beck, one of many Christians who link Israel's well-being to their own doctrine, the actual sponsors behind "Absolutely Uncertain" do not evince particular interest in Israel, or Iran, or foreign policy -- but they do have a track record of using whatever they can to defeat Obama and Democrats in general, for what seem like personal reasons.
Research shows that RightChange is the brainchild of a fellow named Frederic Eshelman. Now, given the content of the video, and the surname, one might reasonably conclude that Mr. Eshelman is, like Irina, Jewish, and particularly concerned about Israel. However, genealogical records show Eshelman descended from non-Jews of German extraction who fought in the American Revolution. His family are members of the Sons of the American Revolution, and his father's obituary identifies him as...
"...a member of First Methodist Church Chapel and was a former chairman of the stewards. ... Surviving are a son, Fred Eshelman of Wilmington...Memorial service will be 2 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church by the Rev. Don Lloyd and the Rev. Roy Grant. Memorials may be directed to First United Methodist Church, 512 N. Main St., High Point, 27260."
The father was both a Republican committeeman and a frequent and substantial donor to Pat Buchanan -- who if anything was a critic of Israel. Perhaps the son has different views, but we found no evidence.
Indeed, no pro-Israel or other Jewish activity on the part of Eshelman turned up in searches we did. Nor did we find him a vocal part of the evangelical movement which sides strongly with Israel.
This then raises the question: why would a non-Jewish American businessman, with no known interest in the fate of Israel, produce such a video?
The answer seems to be this: his real beef with Obama is far less saleable to the public.
What is Eshelman Really After?