The Public Whisper Campaign Against Obama

18 12 2007

Whisper campaigns are usually done with guile and deft. Those on the receiving end of such campaigns, however, can spot the master minders who hatch such plots. Identifying the culprits and exposing them are two different things. Besides, even when you find something close to the smoking gun all anyone remembers is the effectiveness of the smear campaign, not who perpetuated it.

Take, for example, the whisper campaign that was spread about Senator John McCain in South Carolina. On the even of South Carolina Republican primary in 2000, a push poll asked likely GOP voters if they would vote for a candidate who had a black baby out of wedlock. McCain actually has an adopted Asian daughter, but there was little doubt what the intended goal of conducting such polling, and the results were predictable enough. And while there has been little evidence to prove who was behind it, McCain sure knew who the culprints were. Few would deny that that poll contributed to the Arizona Senator’s lost in the South Carolina primary, and probably the presidency afterwards.

Senator Barack Obama is now getting the McCain treatment on the eve of the primary season. Campaign watchers know about the forwarded emails by Iowa Clinton staffers falsely accusing Obama of attending a madrassa, and the New Hampshire Clinton staffer who made a sly remark about Obama’s drug use as a college student would be a liability in the general election against Republicans, but now Senator Bob Kerrey is joining the slime machine too. And while campaign staffers practiced the dark art of smearing behind keyboards, Bob Kerrey, a Clinton supporter, is out there on television making religious appeals and spreading lies. Perhaps, there is something to be said for Kerrey promoting lies publicly, but they are still lies. Plus, the fact that Kerrey is an otherwise well-respected Senator and Vietnam veteran makes this all the more disappointing.

According to the Huffington Post, Kerrey is still perpetuating the lie that Obama attended a “secular madrassa.” This arguably a much more insidious form of misrepresentation of the facts than the other previous baseless lies. At least the previous fabrications just said madrassa. With Kerrey saying it was a “secular madrassa,” Kerrey is blurring the line between secular and religious schooling.

A madrassa is an Islamic school, which means its not secular, whereas Obama, on the other hand, attended a secular school that in Indonesia as a child period. (And while Indonesia is a Muslim majority society it also has plenty of Hindus and religious traditions as well, which means it may or may not have been even a Muslim majority school to begin with.)

This is obviously done to give the erroneous impression that Obama was somehow indoctrinated with hateful religious teaching by implying if he attended school at all in a country with Muslims, it had to be religious and backward one.

Plus, Sen. Kerrey is also out there repeating another pitiful lie that Obama was ashamed of his middle name, Hussein, and that he was not born a Christian in an effort to imply the Illinois Senator’s has some profound relationship to Islam. There was no evidence of that Obama experience such shame. Also, Obama was raised by his white Kansasan Christian mother and then his white Christian grandparents in Hawaii. Neither of whom sound particularly hateful.

But the overtones and undertones of the smearing are clear. The Clinton campaign is trying to convey the impression that Obama is not a real American, not someone voters can trust. He is foreign and unknowable.

But appealing to this type of religious intolerance is really a proxy for encourage voters to discriminate on the basis of race, especially among some skeptical voters who might be uncomfortable supporting a black man for president, but might be on the fence about Obama.

So far, the liberal white blogosphere is reluctant to recognize this point out because its something commonly thought of as a Republican tactic. Plus, they think its the Clinton campaign being dirty.

But soon enough people will recognize it for what it is: another racist whisper campaign conducted in the open. Of course, by that point people will only recall its effectiveness, not the perpetrators.

Update: Bob Kerrey has just apologized for his comments. Read the apology here.

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One response

18 12 2007
eric

wow. amazing post, I had no idea about what went on with Senator McCain back in the previous election. To think that Bush’s people would take something as noble as adopting a child in need and twisting into something so negative is …. shocking.. Although, in retrospect, its not as shocking considering they fabricated a war costing tens of thousands of innocent people their lives..

One of the most interesting things to me is how they realized that they could play on the ignorance of the south in actually relating a s. asian baby to a black baby and have that kind of thing stick.

Regarding Obama, it will be one of the saddest days of my 29 years of life if these kinds of false inaccuracies would prevent Obama from winning the primaries .

Someone really ought to make a website that just posts these kind of slanderous inaccuracies and clears them up.

-Eric

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