The Party of John McCain

Shortly after the 2000 election, during which John McCain lost the primary to George Bush following a smear campaign in which a Karl Rove-orchestrated and profoundly racist and fearmongering push polling operation smeared McCain by obliquely casting his adopted Bangladeshi daughter Bridget as his "illegitimate black child," McCain gave an interview to the publication DadMag, in which he said of the dirty politickers: "I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those."

My, how times have changed.

Despite saying just a month ago in his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, "a word to Senator Obama and his supporters: We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other," his October strategy is now questioning his opponent Barack Obama's commitment to America, impugning his patriotism, and casting him as a terrorist.

It started over the weekend, when McCain's running mate Sarah Palin, accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." Then yesterday, McCain barely managed to suppress a smirk when he asked at a campaign appearance, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" and an audience member screamed out, "Terrorist!"

At a Palin appearance, another audience member shouted, "Kill him!" when Palin once again referenced Obama's "friend," Bill Ayers. She accused Obama of "launch[ing] his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist." Meanwhile, the campaign releases an ad not-so-subtly questioning Obama's patriotism and support of the troops by implying he wants to decrease troop levels in Afghanistan, a little bit of mendacity accomplished by removing from its context a quote in which he was actually arguing for increased troop levels.

The larger GOP apparatus plays along—yesterday, the Pennsylvania GOP sent out a press release titled: "PAGOP: OBAMA – A TERRORIST'S BEST FRIEND"—and the conservative media provides an assist—over the weekend, Fox News ran a "news" special entitled "Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism," which included the unsubstantiated assertion from conservative writer Andy Martin that Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago was "training for a radical overthrow of the government," while conservative hack Bill Kristol provided space in his New York Times column to let Palin muse regretfully that Obama's former minister Jeremiah Wright is not a bigger campaign issue, even though McCain denounced that line of attack back in April, vowing to run a "respectful campaign."
"I've pledged to conduct a respectful campaign…We are trying to be a party that respects everyone and to show disrespect for any candidate or anyone…is certainly not the party of Abraham Lincoln."
But it is the party of John McCain.

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