Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Marc Ambinder, blogging for The Atlantic at 8:40 this morning:

Rove: Don't "Hussein" Obama

No less an authority figure than Karl Rove has warned Republican operatives from demagoguing Barack Obama's middle name.

At a closed door meeting of GOP state executive directors in late January, Rove said the safest way to refer to Obama would be to use his honorific, "Sen. Obama."

"The context was, you're not going to stimatize this guy. You shouldn't underestimate him," one of the executive directors said. Rove said that the use of "Barack Hussein Obama" would perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted and would hurt the party....

Marc Ambinder, five hours later:

Tennessee Republican Party Slams Barack "Hussein" Obama

On Monday, the Tennessee Republican Party dropped the H-bomb, adorning a press release with Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, and associated him the Muslim religion by running the 2006 photograph of the candidate wearing Somali tribal clothing.

Here's the first paragraph of the release:

The Tennessee Republican Party today joins a growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.

Ostensibly, the press release was written to react to Louis Farrakhan's Sunday endorsement of Obama....

Is the Tennessee state party off message? Oh, give me a break. The state party isn't off message and Bill Cunningham, who similarly baited Obama while warming up a McCain crowd in Cincinnati yesterday, wasn't off message either.

Ambinder's Rove story is meant to gull us into believing that the GOP's best minds think race-baiting Obama is both offensive and bad politics. We were also meant to be gulled by the Politico story from Sunday that said, "Top Republican strategists are working on plans to protect the GOP from charges of racism or sexism in the general election ... commission[ing] polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate"; we were really supposed to be bamboozled by the assertion that this mega-super-secret "RNC project is viewed as so sensitive that those involved in the work were reluctant to discuss the findings in detail."

It's a crock. The plan is that the nominee and marquee party names will act high-minded while expendable enforcers from the deep GOP/VRWC bench come in to throw the elbows. The big names will piously express shock and remorse, while congratulating the thugs on a job well done.


UPDATE: I'm surprised that Kos thinks Rove is sincere and the Tennessee party "refuses to play ball." It seems pretty obvious to me that these guys are running a scam.

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