Just when you thought the fearmongering couldn't get any more stupid, Pennsylvania voters received an e-mail telling them that Barack Obama is secretly Hitler.
A new e-mail making the rounds among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania this week falsely alleged that Mr. Obama “taught members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud,’’ and equated a vote for Senator Barack Obama with the “tragic mistake” of their Jewish ancestors, who “ignored the warning signs in the 1930’s and 1940’s.”
At first blush, it was typical of the sorts of e-mails floating around with false, unsubstantiated and incendiary claims this year.
But where most of the attack e-mails against Mr. Obama have been mostly either anonymous or from people outside of mainstream politics, this one had an unusually official provenance: It was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s “Victory 2008” committee.
The email was "signed" with the names of prominent McCain supporters. It's since been pulled and the Pennsylvania Republican Party as repudiated it, firing the strategist who helped draft it. The important word there is probably "helped." He wasn't the only one involved, he was just the only one fired. Someone had to take the blame and it was this strategist, Bryan Rudnick, who was going to do it.
Rudnick says he got approval for the e-mail from "officials at several levels." He usually worked in Florida, but was sent to Pennsylvania to help with Jewish outreach there. I could go ahead and debunk the mass e-mail, but why bother? Talk about your slow moving targets. The broader issue here is the McCain campaign and the Republican party are completely in love with BS and nothing is too low for them to try.
When a woman with a history of mental illness claimed that she was attacked for being a McCain supporter, Team McCain tried to push the story to prominence despite the obvious problems with it. In fact, some of the details appear to have been created by the McCain campaign to tie the attack -- which never actually happened -- to Obama.
TPM Election Central:
John McCain's Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established -- and even told reporters outright that the "B" carved into the victim's cheek stood for "Barack," according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.
John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain's Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."
Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the "B" stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.
According to TPM, the McCain campaign was "pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time." The original report came from KDKA-TV in Pennsylvania and cited the McCain campaign as one of their sources. They've since pulled that information from their site, but TPM preserved it:
According to a campaign spokesperson, after seeing her bumper sticker supporting McCain, the suspect said, "Oh you're with McCain, you're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."
After beating the woman, the McCain camp says the suspect carved a "B" in her cheek for "Barack" Obama.
The fact is that the McCain campaign was telling the media details they couldn't possibly have known. They wanted this story to go nationwide and they got exactly what they wanted. Unfortunately for them, the story lived about ten minutes before it all fell apart and the "victim," Ashley Todd, was arrested and charged with making a false report to police.
I could go on and on and on. There are so many examples of this. But the fact is that when the chips are down, Republicans are turning to fearmongering and race-baiting. Looking back at this campaign, I think we can safely say the GOP has run a campaign anyone but the GOP would be ashamed of. Of course, they're shameless -- they don't freakin' care. If they win, they win and the ends always justify the means. If they lose, then they gave it a good shot and hopefully scuffed future President Barack Obama up a bit.
But history remembers these things. We're going to look back at the Bush years and McCain's bid to continue them. When we do that, a lot of people are going to be ashamed. The racism, the hate, the lies, the fact that McCain-Palin rallies look more like angry mobs than anything, all add up to a very despicable campaign. All of it is shameful now and will be seen with shame tomorrow.
But some of us won't be ashamed. At least, not for ourselves. Throughout the Bush years and into this campaign -- maybe the last gasp of the neocons -- we've taken the high road. We've stood by the Constitution and the law. We won't be ashamed.
McCain has said that he's proud of his campaign. He can't possibly be. He's just not ashamed of it and that's not the same thing. He looks at the polls and hopes the "Bradley Effect" is real. He hopes that racism and fear are strong enough. He hopes that you can be frightened into and lied into making an extremely stupid choice. And he hopes he can disenfranchise enough voters to be sworn in in 2009. McCain can't be proud of his campaign, because there's nothing to be proud of here. McCain clearly hopes the worst of Americans will choose the president, not the best of us.
We're the ones who can be proud. Those of us who've worked to get Obama elected and, further, those of us who stood against Bush every step of the way. We can be proud. When history looks back at this time, Americans will be ashamed of some Americans -- but not us. We fought the good fight and we did it fairly. We used reason where they used emotional appeals to fear and hate. We did the way you're supposed to do it -- by making the better argument.
Take a moment to think about this point in time. You've done the right thing and you can be proud of it. McCain backers can be happy with the way they've campaigned, but they can't possibly be proud.