Sunday commentary from "Murderer's Row" at the New York Times (their regular columnists) goes after McCain pretty hard - well at least two out of three.
Nicholas Kristof speaks of the push to "otherize" Obama -- how the lie that Obama is (or may be secretly) a Muslim won't go away.
Frank Rich points out the McCain campaign's Rovian tactics of painting him as a reformer against those Wall Street types, despite all evidence to the contrary, and focusing on buzz words like "leadership" instead of concrete plans.
As for Thomas Friedman, well he is just talking about his lucrative speaking tour on energy issues and whining that no one is listening to him.
None of these columns are online yet at http://www.nytimes.com, but should be later tonight.
Here is a quick rundown:
I will start with Kristof because the issue he tackles I think is the most disturbing: The persistent rumor that Obama is a Muslim.
Here's a sad monument to the sleaziness of this presidential campaign: Almost one-third of voters "know" that Barack Obama is a Muslim or believe that he could be.
In short, the political campaign to transform Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens isn't just Obama, but our entire political process.
One third? This is kind of scary.
Kristoff points to a recent Pew Research that found 13 percent of registered voters say Obama is a Muslim, and another 16 percent just DON'T KNOW if he is a Christian or a Muslim. Why is this crap persisting?
Crap such as the absurd claim that Obama took his oath of office on a Quran (of course he did NOT) rather than the Bible (of course he DID)?
And then there is the American Taliban far-right "Cluster Bombs for Jesus" crowd, which is beyond any reason.
The online Red State Shop sells T-shirts, mugs and stickers exploiting the idea. Some shirts and stickers portray a large "O" with horns, above a caption: "The Anti-Christ."
While the McCain campaign hasn't been saying such nonsense directly, Kristoff points out:
... a McCain commercial last month mimicked the words and imagery of the best-selling Christian "Left Behind" book series in ways that would have set off alarm bells among evangelicals nervous about the Antichrist.
Kristoff figures this is all no accident:
What is happening, I think, is this: Religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it's not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate's skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Obama is sufficiently Christian.
The result is this campaign to "otherize" Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there's a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.
Kristoff goes on to say the media must "blow the whistle" on campaign strategies feeding on prejudice.
And he has this gem:
Just imagine for a moment if it were the black candidate in this election, rather than the white candidate, who was born in Central America, was an indifferent churchgoer, had graduated near the bottom of his university class, had dumped his first wife, had regularly displayed an explosive and profane temper, and had referred to the Pakistani-Iraqi border ...
Next up, Frank Rich:
He points out that McCain has been chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee where, he has claimed to have "overseen every part of our economy."
Thankfully, that is a load of horse manure.
... but he does have a long and relevant economic record that begins with the Keating Five scandal of 1989 and extends to this campaign, where his fiscal policies bear the fingerprints of Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina. It's not the resume that a presidential candidate wants to advertise as America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Rich says that is why the the McCain campaign has been trying so hard to hide his history of economic incompetence or worse -- the Keating Five, his associations with Phil Gramm and Carly Fiiornia.
Meanwhile, the slime flies, in typical Rovian fashion.
McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.
Rich also notes part of this strategy is to create a "thick fog of truthiness."
... McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.
Rich points out that the hardest-hitting interview McCain has yet subjected himself to was on "The View."
But even that was too much for Cindy and John McCain:
Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word "lies" to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from "the filter" that Cindy McCain later complained that "The View" picked "our bones clean." In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.
A sad, and frightening thought indeed.
The McCain campaign is all about obscuring his own record, lying about Obama and hoping the media in its quest for "balance" won't call him on it. Thus the outrage and shock at what happened on "The View."
When a McCain spokesman told Politico a week ago that "we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say" about the campaign's incessant fictions, he was channeling a famous Bush dictum of 2003: "Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter."
As for Thomas Friedmann's column, well let's just say it his typical gig of whining about how no one is listening to his words of wisdom on energy.
That can wait.
Along with any disclosure on who is paying for his lucrative speaking tours.