A lot of recent developments on the Hussein issue. Here’s just a few, including some morning after thoughts on the piece I posted last night.
• I suggested that regarding Bill Cunningham’s Husseinified outburst Tuesday, perhaps Barack Obama should inform John McCain that no apology was necessary. But apparently, Cunningham on his radio show in the past has referred to Obama as “Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama.” He also went on Hannity and Colmes a month ago and said, “I do not believe Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist or a Manchurian candidate.” Because that’s something that needs to be clarified.
In light of Cunningham’s history, an apology from McCain was definitely appropriate. But rather than apologizing for “any comments that may have been made,” McCain should have apologized for the fact that the guy was invited to speak at all.
On the question of when the use of “Hussein” is appropriate and when it’s not, it’s a thin and admittedly complicated line. Which is why I stand by my suggestion that Obama and his supporters should quit the Hussein police force altogether. Hate speech and fear-mongering cannot and must not be tolerated, but the use of “Hussein” alone should be enough to qualify as such.
• In other news, the Republican National Committee officially denounced the Tennessee GOP’s press release from yesterday, and the press release has since been modified. If you look at the new version, the picture of Obama in Somalian clothing has been removed and the following clarification was added:
*Clarification: This release originally referenced a photo of Sen. Obama and incorrectly termed it to be “Muslim” garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo. Also, in order to diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release – that Sen. Obama has surrounded himself with advisers and recieved endorsements from people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel – we have deleted the use of Barack Obama’s middle name.
Because apparently, the RNC thinks it’s okay to associate Obama with Louis Farrakhan, it’s okay to associate Obama with a “confessed domestic terrorist,” and it’s okay to suggest that Obama is “anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.” But using his middle name was way over the line. It’s also funny how the picture of Obama in Somalian clothing suddenly has no relevance once it’s learned that the clothing had no religious meaning.
• Last piece of major news on the Hussein front, no less an authority than Karl Rove thinks it would be a mistake for Republicans to try to exploit Barack Obama’s middle name. And for once, I agree with him.
In an American culture that is hyper-sensitized to matters of race and tolerance– and rightfully so, based on our history– people know exactly why certain conservatives are using Obama’s middle name so gleefully. Every time a radio talk show host or politician attempts to Husseinify Barack Obama, it’s going to set off a little pang of conscience in the minds of most Americans and leave a bad taste in their mouths for the Republican Party– no matter how far McCain distances himself from his supporters. Eventually, as we’ve seen in the past with intolerant and offensive jokes (regardless of how mild), it’s going to build up to the point where people on all sides say enough already. And the backlash alone could aid Obama’s chances for a Reaganesque landslide in November.
Just one more reason why Obama and his supporters might be wise to abandon the Neighborhood Hussein Watch and let conservatives have all the rope they want.