Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Manchurian candidate redux

Want to go there?

Did you know that a major political party's presumptive nominee for president of the United States is a stealth candidate? The nets are buzzing with rumors about the “Manchurian candidate” aspects of this man, who is suspected to be hiding dark secrets about his personal history and political agenda.

I am, of course, speaking of John Sidney McCain III. Who else did you think it could be?

Yes, I know. I've seen the quotes, too. You mean stuff like this:

“In 1991 a young Muslim Harvard Law College graduate named Barack Hussein Obama (who has denied his Islamic past and Muslim roots for as long as he has been a public figure) became a civil rights community activist working out of the Trinity United Church of Christ.” —Jon Christian Ryter

“In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim.” —Debbie Schlussel

“You can't trust anybody these days, so who's to say [Obama]'s not a terrorist and we just don't realize it yet?” —Kirstie Hartle

Yes, the right-wing noise machine is pumping out lots of smears against Barack Obama. But do Obama's opponents really, really want to go there? The stealth candidate game is not one skewed in their favor. After all, the only genuine alternative to Obama is the presumptive Republican nominee, J. Sidney McCain III (and if you believe that Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are also alternatives, go jump off the roof of a tall building while flapping your arms; I'm sure you can fly if you just believe hard enough).

As McCain never tires of mentioning, he is a former prisoner of war. While Wesley Clark correctly pointed out that being a POW does not automatically qualify anyone for the presidency, it's at least a calling card that bespeaks fortitude and endurance. And when I say “calling card,” I certainly don't mean to imply anything about the queen of diamonds.

Unless you want to go there.

No one can gin up fanciful tales about Barack Obama without opening the door to similar attacks on John McCain. When it comes to McCain, there's a lot more to work with. Think about it. Is McCain a stealth candidate? Who has repeatedly been denounced as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for his positions on immigration reform, campaign finance, windfall profits, and tax cuts (despite his convenient election year capitulation to President Bush's agenda)? Who is a mole working to destroy the conservative agenda from within?

Well, who was in the hands of communist interrogators for five years during the Vietnam war? Is there anyone who wouldn't say, “John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life”? And McCain exudes Christian charity, too, as when he cuddles up with former North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin, the man who ran the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” the prisoner-of-war camp in which McCain was interned for over five years.

The people who are working so hard to smear Barack Obama should take a moment to think (not that that's likely to happen). Right-wingers churned up a lot of mud against John McCain when they wanted to discredit him as a candidate for the conservative cause. Despite their opposition, he is now their standard bearer. Perhaps they'll hold their noses and vote for him now because they have no good alternatives. Maybe they'll find satisfaction by ignoring McCain and concentrating instead on tearing down Obama. But their yeoman work in savaging McCain is still out there. It ensures that McCain's campaign will be no garden party.

So don't go there.

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