Saturday, April 26, 2008

The New McCarthyism: Unfair Allegations of "Guilt by Association" Used Against Obama

 By David Drissel

McCarthyism has made an unexpected comeback in the guise of repeated questions ad nauseum about Barrack Obama’s “patriotism” and related “guilt by association” with various figures such as his ex-pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright and former Weather Underground member, William Ayers.  

For weeks, we’ve heard this kind of paranoid chauvinistic drivel especially from the conservative media – Sean Hannity of Fox News in particular.  But at the last debate, sponsored by ABC News, such neo-McCarthy-style tactics reached a new low in the guise of moderators Charley Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.   

The entire first half of the debate revolved around whether or not Obama was sufficiently patriotic and “loved America” as much or more than other people such as his former pastor.  Nothing Obama said seemed to be enough to satisfy the inquisitorial moderators. 

Sadly, Hillary Clinton only piled on Obama even more, taking her extremist-cues from former Clinton Administration official-turned-TV “journalist” – Stephanopoulos.   She then decided to bring up an even more distant secondary association - Louis Farrakhan – who she claimed was mentioned in Obama’s church bulletin!  Wow, talk about McCarthy-style “guilt by association” of the worst kind.

You know, this has got to be the most disgusting display of “political” discourse I’ve ever seen in my life.  These New McCarthyites –including Hillary Clinton - can’t seem to get enough of such non-issues.    Since when does whether or not one wears a flag-pin matter?  Patriotism is in the heart, not on the sleeve (or lapel).    Besides, I didn’t see Hillary wearing a flag-pin.  Why did the “unbiased” moderators not ask a question about her patriotism too?

Since when does a person’s ex-pastor become newsworthy?  So what if Obama went to this church for twenty years?  All of the objectionable comments (five minutes worth at most) made by Wright which played endlessly on cable TV news, were videotaped within the past six or seven years.  That was the period in which Obama was not even around Chicago all that much.   Besides, Obama clearly stated that he disagreed with Wright’s objectionable comments and was not in the church at the time when those comments were made.  That should have been the end of the story, but Fox’s Hannity and now ABC News’ resident neo-McCarthyites just wanted to keep the story alive for as long as possible.

This whole line of “debate” about William Ayers was even worse and really brought politics to a new chauvinistic low.  So what if Obama served on the same board with this guy? You know, I’ve served on boards with all kinds of people in my life.  Am I supposed to run a background check on everyone in which I come into contact?  This guy Ayers was never even convicted of anything, for crying out loud.  This is the worst kind of McCarthy-style tactics: To insinuate or even say flatly that a person who has met an “undesirable” (fill in the blank) is somehow “corrupted” or “infected” by that association.   

It’s instructive to remember that the critics of Dr. Martin Luther King attempted the use very similar McCarthy-style tactics to destroy him.  They accused of him of being a “communist” (or “pinko”) simply because he had associated with a few communists in the civil rights movement.  Of course, that was a ridiculous charge.  King was never a communist or communist sympathizer.  But just because he had brief associations with a few communists, the reactionary far-right race-baiting crowd automatically deemed him suspect of “anti-Americanism.”

Personally, I’m a whole lot more concerned about Presidential candidates who imagine and apparently lie about surviving “sniper fire” when they actually haven’t.  Do we really want someone to be our commander in chief that can’t tell fantasy from reality on the battlefield?  It makes one wonder what other kind of military attacks or maneuvers that Hillary might “imagine” if she somehow scratches her way back into the White House.

Hillary’s increasingly negative fear-mongering attacks on Obama are right out of the Republican playbook once again.  You know, I actually used to like and respect Hillary.  But now I see her as just so incredibly desperate to win that’s she’s willing to resort to McCarthy-style tactics and destroy the Democratic Party’s chances to win in the general election. 

It’s time to return to the issues that really matter to average Americans.  Let’s hope that Hillary ends her neo-McCarthyite campaign soon, before she completely ruins the Democratic party’s chances in the fall.