Mark Naison: The McCain Palin Strategy of Character Assassination Will Not Work This Time

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Mark Naison is Professor of African American Studies and History, Fordham University.]

Now that Barack Obama has taken a decisive lead in the Presidential Race, John McCain and Sarah Palin have decided to take a time honored theme out of the playbook of the American Right and attack their opponent's patriotism

We saw that in the debate where Palin, rather than dealing with substantive issues regarding American military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan called the Obama/ Biden plan of phased withdrawl from Iraq a prescription for"surrender."

Today, Palin and McCain are making headlines by claiming that Obama's connection with Chicago based education professor William Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground in the late 1960's and early 1970's , means Obama" consorts with terrorists."

Though this strategy helped Repubican candidates win elections in the 1940's and 1950's, it will not work now.

First of all, at a time when most Americans are worried whether they keep their jobs, fund their businesses, be able to use their credit cards, retire with dignity or send their children to college,the questioning of Barack Obama's patriotism and"Americanism," will seem like a cynical ploy to divert attention from a discussion of programs and policies which are critical to the average American's future. Some will view it as an insult to their intelligence; others may see it as dangerous attempt to inflame racial, religious and regional prejudice at a time when Americans have to come together to solve some of the most difficult economic problems they have faced in their lifetimes.

But secondly, this strategy will backfire because Sarah Palin, the self described"pit bull" of the McCain campaign, has a history of very questionable associations herself. Sarah Palin's pastor's comments about gays put him at least as far outside the American mainstream as Rev Wright. And Sarah Palin's husband's association with the Alaska Independence Party put him squarely in the company of people whose mindset approaches those who engineered the Oklahoma City Bombing. Scratch people around Sarah Palin and you will find examples of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia that will not hold up well under public scrutiny. People living in glass houses, even when they are near the Artic Circle, should be careful of throwing stones.

Never has the American public more deserved an intelligent, dispassionate discussion of issues ranging from taxation to economic regulation, to military strategy. Now the Republicans are about to run a campaign of"Fear and Smear"

Do they really think we are that stupid? American voters know that the main issues in this election are economic. This is not 1952 or even 1968. It's more like 1936, when the electorate gave Franklin Roosevelt's policies a ringing endorsement even though Republicans said his admninistration was riddled with Communists.

Because of the current economic crisis, Barack Obama is not as easy a target as Republicans think

They are going to be in for a rude awakening on November 4.

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Philip Costa - 10/5/2008

It doesn't seems to be OK with you McCain, Palin Republican haters not to allow the facts about Obama's background come out for the public to see. It hasn't even been decided if Obama is a legal citize of the U. S. He is a hollow suit, cotton candy, fluff, he talks a good game and received money from Goldman Sachs, Lehman and the other big financial institutions, but that is OK because he is who he is. Get real the Democrats (Bill Clinton for one) are the ones who engineered the Freddy and Fanny most lenient stretching of the rules so everyone could have a house no matter if they could afford it or not. So you think it is OK for Obama to screw the country over to make him able to "share the wealth" with un deserving people. In my opinion anyone who can expose this hollow suit for who he is should have that right.