McCain Opts for Tolerance

28 02 2008

Senator John McCain’s repudiation of right wing talk show host Bill Cunningham’s comments about Obama is an encouraging sign that the general election would be cleaner than either the GOP or Democratic primary. Cunningham repeated Obama’s middle name which is Hussein presumably to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment. Many have praised the Arizona Senator, and rightfully so, for taking a fairly principled and unpopular position among conservatives in saying, “Whatever suggestion that was made that was any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong.

But there’s possibly another reason for McCain to advocate for greater tolerance. According to the Politico, focus groups and polling done by Republican officials indicate there could be a huge backlash directed at the Republican nominee for unfairly attacking either a woman or a black man.

GOP officials are certain their words will be scrutinized ever more aggressively. They anticipate a regular media barrage of accusations of intolerance – or much worse.

They seem most concerned about Obama right now.

Of course there are those within the GOP establishment who think being too sensitive will endanger McCains chances. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican strategist told the Politico:

If we approach this campaign from the standpoint that we need to take political sensitivity training because one candidate is a woman or one candidate is black, I think we are approaching it from the wrong standpoint because that already handcuffs us…If McCain is afraid, or shies away from taking on Obama because that’s what they worry about, then they’ve lost the battle to begin with.

We’ll see how long the current consensus will last.

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One response

28 02 2008

On a related note, check out this excellent commentary from Juan Cole on Obama’s middle name.

J. Cole for Secretary of State!

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