June 09, 2008

The General Election Gets Dirty

Over the course of the weekend my comment sections on several posts was hit by anti-McCain comments (summarily deleted) that appear to be astroturfed, claiming that McCain's actions during his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese was dishonorable, echoing a theme that his drawing disability pay for lingering injuries resulting from his torture was dishonorable (and apparently sinfully unattractive to at least one key Obama-supporting blogger).

After a 2004 campaign in which Democrats were first to play up the service of one Vietnam veteran, they are now lurching back towards the more familiar ground of spitting upon them. We should expect more of this.

This morning I was sent a chain email (origins murky and unknown, but based upon stilted syntax and racial overtones, I'll suggest it originated from a Clinton supporter prior to Obama's clinching of the nomination), including pictures of Obama's African relatives as the new "First Family."

It included pictures of his Kenyan grandmother, Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama, Obama's stepmother Kezia, half-bother Abongo, half-brother Malik, his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., and other unidentified African family members.

The email mentions (but doesn't show a picture) of Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya who claims to be Barack Obama's cousin. The email claims that Odinga signed a 'Shariah pact' with Kenyan Muslims (disputed) and that Odinga's son was named after Fidel Casto (fact).

It mentions Barack Sr. was born and buried a Muslim.

It also alludes to the Democratic frontrunner as literally being a bastard, as Barack Sr. never divorced his first wife, and also the candidate's parents took part in shotgun wedding, citing Barack Jr. in his autobiography as saying, "How and when the marriage occurred remains a bit murky, a bill of particulars that I have never quite had the courage to explore."

Having not read the book, I cannot verify if that quote is accurate, but all of the other claims are apparently undisputed in Obama's Wikipedia bio. Facts or not, these are irrelevant cheap shots, as if the candidate had a say in the matter of when he was born, or under what conditions.

It also claimed that Abongo "Roy" Obama, the candidate's half-brother, is a militant Muslim, and cites Barack's book (it didn't say which book) as saying the black man must "liberate himself from the poisoning influences of European culture," claims also published to little fanfare.

Neither of these lines of attack—on McCain's shattered teeth and other abuse in the Hanoi Hilton, or on Obama's origins and distant African relatives—are libel to convince any voters to change their minds, but it does seem to show that the 2008 general election is going to be one of the nastiest Presidential elections yet.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 9, 2008 10:32 AM

Freudian slip? In your last paragraph you should have written "Neither of these lines of attack . . . are liable to convince any voters". Both are "libel" (or slander -- I always get those mixed up).

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at June 9, 2008 04:24 PM

Unlike John Kerry (D-Christmas in Cambodia), who still hasn't released his full military records, we know precisely what John McCain (R-Renegade) did to earn his Silver Star, Navy Commendation Medal, Legion of Merit with a "V" and one gold star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Bronze Star with a "V" and two gold stars.

He may not be a true conservative, but John McCain is a true hero.

Posted by: C-C-G at June 9, 2008 06:05 PM

Dr. Weevil: Libel and slander are both forms of defamation. Slander is defamation in a transitory form, especially speech; libel is defamation in a fixed medium, especially writing but also a picture, sign, or electronic broadcast.

(I'm not a lawyer. I just looked it up on Wikipedia.)

Posted by: Pat at June 9, 2008 10:56 PM