Election 2008: McCain stole Tim Russert’s Brain! [Karl]
At TPM, Josh Marshall is already proclaiming the vast right-wing conspiracy against Barack Obama:
Hopefully, everyone can now see the McCain strategy for running against Barack Obama. Yes, we have some general points on taxes, culture wars and McCain as war hero who can protect us in ways that flash-in-the-pan pretty boy Barack Obama can’t.
But that’s not the core. The core is to drill a handful of key adjectives into the public mind about Barack Obama: Muslim, anti-American,BLACK, terrorist, Arab. Maybe a little hustler and shifty thrown in, but we’ll have to see. The details and specific arguments are sort of beside the point…
Now, a good deal has been made out of John McCain’s repudiation of talk radio yakmeister Bill Cunningham, who led off for McCain at one of his rallies with the full run of Obama sludge. But don’t be distracted or fooled. This is more like an example of what the digital commerce folks refer to as ‘channel conflict’. You’ve got your multiple distribution channels.
Don’t insult your intelligence or mine by pretending that John McCain’s plan for this race doesn’t rely on hundreds of Cunninghams — large and small — across the country, and the RNC and all the GOP third party groups, to be peddling this stuff nonstop for the next eight months because it’s the only way John McCain have a real shot at contesting this race.
If McCain really wants to repudiate this stuff, he can start with the Tennessee Republican party which dished all the slurs and smears about Obama being a Nation of Islam-loving anti-Semite, just today. And once he’s done talking to the people who will be running his Tennessee campaign, we’ll have a number of others he can talk to, like the head of his Ohio campaign, former Sen. Mike DeWine, who gave that Cunningham guy his marching orders.
Let’s just not fool ourselves, not lie to ourselves about what’s happening here and who’s in charge.
“Marching orders,” by the way, means at the most asking someone to give the crowd some “red meat,”Ã‚Â notÃ‚Â ordering a slur or a smear.Ã‚Â For example,Ã‚Â Cunningham could have simply quoted Tom Buffenbarger:
Buffenbarger called Obama a Ã¢â‚¬Å“thespian,Ã¢â‚¬Â and he sarcastically referred to the junior senator from Illinois as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“wunderkind.Ã¢â‚¬Â He compared Obama to Ã¢â‚¬Å“Janus, the two-faced Roman god of ancient times.Ã¢â‚¬Â ***Ã‚Â
Early in his speech, Buffenbarger asked, Ã¢â‚¬Å“So now we have a decision to make. Will we rely on the Harvard Law Review editor? The silver-tongued orator from Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois? The man in love with the microphone?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Taking off the gloves, he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate. He took a walk more than a 130 times. That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves. All the right combinations. All the right footwork. But he never steps into the ring.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Buffenbarger was introducing Hillary Clinton at the time, with more “red meat” than one is likely to find at the local Outback Steakhouse.Ã‚Â The smear in this instance is Marshall’s baseless innuendo that DeWine intended to have Cunningham say what he did.
Marshall wants McCain to repudiate a TN GOP mailer (including the photo of Obama in native garb circulated byÃ‚Â Clinton staffers)?Ã‚Â McCain did so hours before Marshall’s post.Ã‚Â Not that it was a good-faith demand by Marshall, whoÃ‚Â told his readers not to be fooled by McCain’s repudiation of Cunningham in the first place.
As for Marshall’s theory of multiple distribution channels, we can check in with the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder:
No less an authority figure than Karl Rove has warned Republican operatives from demagoguing Barack Obama’s middle name.
Right wing figures are set to ignore Rove’s advice. Rush Limbaugh used Obama’s middle name more than a year ago, and Ann Coulter regularly uses the middle name… So does Michael Savage…
Mind you, Limbaugh and Coulter have been two of McCain’s biggest critics as well, but in Marshalltown, that is probably proof of how brilliant the super-secret McCain-Rove plot really is.Ã‚Â No doubt Ambinder is at least a useful idiot, if not a fellow traveler, for not recognizing this.
But the conspiracy is even larger than that.Ã‚Â It includes NBC News DC Bureau Chief Tim Russert, who asked Obama a debate question on Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.Ã‚Â Sure, Russert was a counsellor to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-NY), but Rove had the giant seed pod installed in his garden.Ã‚Â Ask “Russert” what he thinks of McCain and he will tell you: “Maverick is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”Ã‚Â Marshall wants you to ignore Obama’s troubling answer to the Farrakhan question and focus on the conspiracy, maaaann.
The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen was troubled over the fact that ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spiritual advisor of 20 yearsÃ‚Â is cozy with Farrakhan.Ã‚Â Slate’s Mickey Kaus has also flagged Obama’s church as problematic.Ã‚Â The Seattle-based alt-weekly The Stranger reports that:
the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., apostle of black liberation theology, delivers magnificently cranky sermons on how the “African diaspora” struggles under the yoke of the “white supremacists” who run the “American empire.”
Perhaps Marshall sees them as fifth columnists withÃ‚Â the RightWingNoiseMachine, too.
After all, Obama has said that Wright was “like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don’t agree with,” which should settle the matter.Ã‚Â Accordingly, we must ignore the fact thatÃ‚Â — until this issue arose — Obama’s church openly advertised itself as:
Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically ChristianÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain “true to our native land,” the mother continent, the cradle of civilization… We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.
The church also adopted a “Black Value System,” which includes a disavowal of the pursuit of “middleclassness,” that “must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered.”Ã‚Â
If McCain belonged to a church for 20 years that had the same mission statement, but just for white people,Ã‚Â had a pastor who was cozy with David Duke and promoted the White Value System, Marshall — and most Democrats — would see that as an inoffensive expression of community pride, wouldn’t they?Ã‚Â
No, of course they would not.Ã‚Â They would point out that the candidate, having talked about how his faith informs his values, put the issue of that relationship up for public debate.
But Marshall clearly wants to popularize the myth of a vast, racist, right-wing conspiracy, in the hope that the sanction of political correctness will make Obama’s decades-long membership in this sort of group a verboten topic in polite society, and will allow his allies to impute any truly offensive remarks directly to the McCain campaign, regardless of whether there is any real connection between them.Ã‚Â In Marshalltown, McCain must repudiate anyone and any remark deemed offensive, including some D-list radio host, but Obama need not even address those with whom he has spent the last 20 years.