Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has hit Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hard, some might say below the belt, by accusing him of "palling around with terrorists."
This is, surely, a sensitive issue at a time when the United States is struggling to protect itself from terrorist attacks in a post-9/11 era. And echoes the undercurrent of accusation leveled at Obama from McCain supporters over his relationship with Bill Ayers, a former radical from the 1960s. But it's the kind of dig that is stunning, coming from a vice presidential candidate.
The attack was certainly not a slip of the tongue. Palin made it three times while on the campaign trail yesterday.
Ayers, now a college professor in Chicago, was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which was responsible for a number of bombings in the '60s, including one in California which killed a police officer. Obama has spoken out against what Ayers and his group did back then.
Of course, it's a far stretch to try to associate Obama with those activities. He, of course, was just a child when they happened.
Ayers and Obama are neighbors in Chicago and served on a community board together. They also had an early tenuous political connection. But to say that Obama has been "palling around" with a known terrorist implies something more ominous. Especially when it comes from Palin.
What's the next thing we'll hear out of her mouth? Will she refer to the Democrat as Barack Hussein Obama, to strike fear into the hearts of those Americans who, wrongly, believe that Obama is a Muslim and, also incorrectly feel that all Muslims are terrorists?
The amount of vitriolic rhetoric fired at Obama is sometimes suffocating. For example, my inbox today included an alarming claim that three men who "brought down Wall Street" are all Obama economic advisers. But a quick search of the Urban Legends site, Snopes, reveals that this claim is false.
Of course, when I get these kinds of missives (there were no fewer than a dozen others in my inbox today) I simply consider the source. They are so overwhelming in their content, by the way, that any veracity that may be possibly included in them, frankly, escapes my attention. But this is not the kind of unsubstantiated attack one expects from a vice presidential candidate.
Could it be that the Republicans took a look at the latest polling data and decided they needed to make such a desperate move?
Americans have a keen interest in fair play. A move like this can very likely backfire on the Republicans. It will be interesting to see if the allegation now gains traction, or whether Palin is roundly criticized for making it. Given the facts as I understand them, I certainly hope the overall reaction, is the latter.
We discussed the Palin allegation and GOP complaints of alleged Democratic mudslinging on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com:
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