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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Name Calling Politics and Smears

Yesterday's buzz in the political world was Bill Cunningham, host of "The Big Show, With Bill Cunningham" repeatedly referring to Barack Obama at a John McCain rally as Barack Hussein Obama (the Senator's given name). Everyone this side of Mars knows the reason, it's to try and get folks to think (wrongly) Obama is a covert Muslim agent or some other silliness.

McCain repudiated the remarks, rightfully so, and spoke out pretty forcefully against Cunningham, who today tossed his hat into Hillary Clinton's ring. My though, good, she deserves you.

When I heard the story my first thought was that Cunningham has been reading too many blogs, on both sides of the aisle, that think name calling is some sort of "good thing". It's not. That's not saying I haven't done it, I'm sure that searching through nearly three years of dribble on this blog you'll find some instances of such behavior. That still doesn't make it right.

The truth is the folks who call Hillary Clinton 'Hitlery', or continue with the asinine Barack Hussein Obama, or any of the dozens of names attributed to G.W. Bush over the last 7 years don't look any smarter, more informed, or "in the know" than other folks. They basically look like childish folks who are (in many cases) hiding behind funny names on their blogs.

You are much less likely to sway an opinion based on using a derogatory names directed that the candidate you loath than you are with a well reasoned argument about their positions. Enough on that.

The other big story lately is the picture of Obama in the traditional Somali garb that has been making the rounds, evidently starting on the Drudge Report, supposedly provided by Clinton operatives. Obama's camp has called the circulation of the photo an attempt to smear him. That folks, is wrong. You see, the good Senator had that picture taken at a public photo op a few years ago while visiting Africa.

The idea that showing people something you did publicly is a "smear" is kind of reminiscent of John Kerry complaining when folks showed pictures from his war protest days. Sorry, but if you don't want something to come back and bite you later, don't do it.

The one telling thing on the whole incident is the Obama camp overreaction to the picture. The better tact, than implying someone was trying to smear the good Senator would have been to explain it as Gen. Scott Gration (USAF ret) did a day and a half later:

"And in the course of this, Senator Obama was given an outfit and as the guest that he was, the great guest, he took this outfit and they encouraged him to try some of it on," Gration said. "It was a thing that we all do."

The explaination was very simple, clear and above the fray, and not buying into what Drudge was selling, which was fear mongering. The "smear" accusations, and looking for a scape goat may have shown how unready Obama and his staff are for the real tests they'll face against unknown 527 hacks and other's should he win the nomination of the Democrats.

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