Jake Tapper asks the right question:
Why Did Bob Kerrey Mention Obama's Middle Name -- 'Hussein'?
Some Obama supporters have asked why former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., today, mentioned her opponent Sen. Barack Hussein Obama's middle name in remarks published in The Washington Post. (LINK)
"I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim," Kerrey is quoted as saying. "There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."
Obama supporters see this in the same light that they see Clinton strategist Mark Penn's remarks on MSNBC's Hardball (LINK) -- that, as far as former Clinton campaign co-chair Billy Shaheen's remarks about Obama's youthful drug use, "the issue related to cocaine use is not something that the campaign was in any way raising."
Too clever by half, they think....
Actually, Tapper asked part of the right question -- he should have also asked about the first half of the Kerrey remark about Obama:
"The fact that he's African American is a big deal. I do expect and hope that Hillary is the nominee of the party. But I hope he's used in some way. If he happens to be the nominee of the party and ends up being president, I think his capacity to influence in a positive way without spending a penny the behavior of a lot of underperforming black youth today is very important, and he's the only one who can reach them."
Kerrey said that, then he made the "Hussein"/"Muslim" remark. Message: Ahem, 95% white Iowa and 96% white New Hampshire, Barack Obama is black in the way those shiftless black teenagers who haunt your nightmares are black. And he's a camel jockey named Hussein as well.
Kerrey defended the remarks to Tapper, and paraphrased them in a way that make it seem plausible that he was innocently praising Obama. But I don't buy it -- I think this is more below-the-belt stuff from the Clinton campaign.
(By the way, as Tapper notes, Kerrey was unusually nasty to Hillary and, especially, Bill Clinton during Bill's '92 campaign and presidency, so it's odd that he's backing Hillary now. For a detailed trip down memory lane, check out this roundup of Kerry's swipes. If nothing else, it's a reminder that Kerrey is nasty enough to take cheap shots at Obama.)
It's nonsense like this that comes to mind when I read Digby's post about how difficult the GOP and the press are going to make things for the Democratic president we're about to elect -- I can't agree because I still don't think the next president is going to be a Democrat. I think the GOP nominee will be someone other than Huckabee, and I think the demonization of the Democratic nominee -- by Republicans, the press, and other Democrats -- will be enough to erase all memories of the unpleasant GOP nomination fight. I think they'll pull it together, and I suspect we won't. I think the Democratic candidate will actually emerge more sullied than the Republican candidate (and now we see who'll have done the sullying if Obama is the nominee). "[T]he new Democratic president will be nearly paralyzed"? Nah. I don't think we'll even get that far.