Filed under politics… “Kill him!”

Jake Grovum

A conglomeration of national news from the campaign trail, Alaska to Washington and, yes, even Wall Street to Main Street, “Filed under politics…” will aim to aggregate and contextualize national news for the political junkie in you. Attacks ads are attack ads, but it’s getting ugly on the Trail. There are disagreements, even “fundamental differences” in viewpoints, as both presidential campaigns have come accustomed to saying, but this? In the past week there have been countless accounts of McCain-Palin supporters not just attacking Barack Obama on his policies, but his life itself. Take this account from The Times-Tribune in Pennsylvania of a Sarah Palin campaign stop there today: “Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin. Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly. One man screamed “kill him!”” Couple this encounter with the incident from McCain’s town hall meeting in Lakeville, Minn. last Friday (you remember, Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee, who said she doesn’t “trust” Obama because she’s “read about him. He’s an Arab.”) and this past week seems… shall we say, a bit hostile? Naturally, the question is: Where is this coming from? The notion that Obama is a Muslim, terrorist or what have you is nothing new (personally, I’ve seen countless chain e-mails promoting the same empty rumors). Don’t believe me? Remember the “Terrorist fist jab” fiasco? If not, refresh yourself before we move on… This is nothing new. But this latest, and more frightening round, began with VP candidate Sarah Palin’s now infamousquote which also brought Obama’s “American-ism,” or whatever, into question, painting him as different than “you and me”: “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for all of us. Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” McCain himself followed suit: “Look, we don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist and his wife, who still, at least on Sept. 11, 2001, said he still wanted to bomb more. You know, but that’s not the point here. The point is, Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood. We need to know that’s not true.” Just before this, at the same rally, according to the Times story, James T. Harris, a black, conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin told McCain: “It’s absolutely vital that you take it to Obama, that you hit him’ where it hurts, because ‘we have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him,’ as well as, he said, Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.” Let’s forget that the “terrorist” Obama is “palling around with” is now a “professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago … [who] was named citizen of the year in Chicago in 1997,” according to the Times. The point is, despite McCain’s occasional addressing of this issue, it appears as though his own campaign rhetoric has led these recent outbursts. Perhaps the phenomenon is best summed up in this NYTimes lede: “After a week of trying to portray Senator Barack Obama as a friend of terrorists who would drive the country into bankruptcy, Senator John McCain abruptly changed his tone on Friday and told voters at a town-hall-style meeting that Mr. Obama was “a decent person” and a “family man” and suggested that he would be an acceptable president should he win the White House. But moments later, Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, renewed his attacks on Mr. Obama for his association with the 1960s radical William Ayers and told the crowd, “Mr. Obama’s political career was launched in Mr. Ayers’ living room.” Even an adviser in McCain’s campaign questioned the tactics. Part of the statement from Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat, from Georgia: “Senator McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all… Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on a Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.” McCain responded in a statement: “Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale.” He called his campaigns attacks “legitimate criticism of Senator Obama’s record and positions.” Of course all this came just a day or so after the McCain campaign held a teleconference to call attention to “Obama’s Ties To Unrepentant Terrorist William Ayers.” So, the question is: Is the McCain campaign the source of the hate, perpetuating it, trying to stop it or simply watching on the sidelines? Either way, I think it’s safe to say the supporters are getting a bit ridiculous. Jake Grovum Projects Editor