Two incidents from the past few days give a preview of what we might see if Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee for president.
On Monday, the always classy Drudge Report posted a photo of Obama wearing local garb on a 2006 trip to Kenya, claiming the picture was circulated by Hillary Clinton's campaign. (Obama's estranged late father was Kenyan.) Obama's people denounced the Clinton camp, correctly viewing the photo as another attempt to imply that Obama is a scary, insidious, OMG Muslim!
Clinton's campaign didn't directly deny being involved at first, and they said the photo was no big deal. "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed," Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams said in a statement.
But of course Williams knows as well as Matt Drudge that there has been an e-mailed, whispered, and not-so-whispered attempt to smear Obama as a secret Muslim. Two Clinton volunteers resigned in December for forwarding an e-mail peddling those false claims. (At Tuesday's debate Clinton said, of the Kenya photo, that she had "made clear that that's not the kind of behavior that I condone or expect from the people working in my campaign." Obama took her word and dismissed the story.)
There was another reminder of the smear attempts Tuesday, when talk radio host Bill Cunningham referred to Obama three times by the candidate's full name, Barack Hussein Obama, while introducing John McCain at a Cincinnati campaign event. Because, you know, if a black man has the middle name Hussein it means he's actually Saddam's long-lost nephew!
McCain was not on stage at the time, and he apologized immediately after the event. "I absolutely repudiate such comments," McCain said. "It will never happen again."
So, to recap: 1) Wearing clothes of the country you're visiting does not make you a terrorist. 2) Obama is not a Muslim terrorist just because his middle name is "Hussein." 3) Obama is a Christian. 4) Obama was sworn into the Senate on a Bible, not on a Koran. 5) Obama does say the Pledge of Allegiance. 6) You can be sure we'll be hearing more of this sort of thing, McCain's pledge notwithstanding.
Contributing: Wes Allison/tbt*, AP, talkingpointsmemo.com
The percentage of 18-to-29 year olds who said they were following the presidential election closely, according to a bipartisan poll released Monday. That's nearly twice the 42 percent who said the same during the 2006 midterm congressional election year, according to the survey sponsored by the nonpartisan youth-turnout initiative Rock the Vote and conducted jointly by Republican and Democratic pollsters. Eighty-two percent said they intended to vote in this election. The poll showed 47 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds identified themselves as Democrats to 28 percent who said they are Republicans and 16 percent who said they are independents. In hypothetical matchups, Barack Obama had a 57 percent to 27 percent edge over John McCain head-to-head, with 15 percent undecided. Hillary Clinton led McCain among younger voters by 47 percent to 35 percent with 18 percent undecided.
— Congressional Quarterly