After William Platt II, the head of the Lehigh County GOP used Barack Obama’s middle name twice while talking about him before John McCain and Sarah Palin took the stage today in Bethlehem, PA, the McCain campaign put out a statement denouncing the tactic as a distraction from the real questions in the race.
Platt said, “The No. 1 most liberal senator in the United States of America was, you guessed it, the ambassador of change, Barack Hussein Obama,” Afterwards, McCain spokesman Paul Lindsey said, “We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgment, character, and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November.”
The problem for the McCain campaign is that this is a monster of their own creation. Their most ardent supporters, such as Platt, are only following the campaign’s lead. This is the danger that they risked when they started trying to call Obama a terrorist. So why did the McCain campaign have this change of heart today? I think it has something to do with the recent crowd reactions when they make the Obama is a terrorist smear. From people screaming out treason, terrorist, and kill him when Palin accused Obama of palling around with terrorists over the weekend, maybe the McCain campaign finally realized that they had taken it too far, and are now trying to pull back a bit.
This whole Obama is a terrorist narrative is very dangerous and politically stupid. There is nothing for John McCain to gain from these smears, and I also wonder if a stop was put to this Barack Hussein Obama nonsense because it happened in front of John McCain today. I don’t think that McCain himself is comfortable with these smears, which is why he doesn’t deliver them. It is one thing to question an opponent’s character and judgment, but quite another to perhaps cause physical harm to Obama as an unhinged supporter could take these smears too seriously.
The McCain campaign appears to be divided. Palin questioned why McCain pulled out of Michigan, and seems to be running a different campaign then that of her running mate. All of this makes me question, how much control John McCain has over the day to day operations of his campaign. I doubt that we have seen the last of some GOP zealot talking about Barack Hussein Obama, but at least there seem to be some people in the McCain campaign who aren’t comfortable with this new direction.