What's in a name?

Bashing Sen. Obama for his middle name.

Published December 20, 2006 8:55PM (EST)

Hussein. Hussein. Hussein.

Apparently, the conservative punditry is hoping that if they repeat that word enough times, they can diffuse some of Barack Obama's magic. Case in point: Media Matters dissects a recent Debbie Schlussel column titled "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim," despite the fact that the senator from Illinois is Christian. In the piece, Schlussel questions Obama's "loyalties" for, among other reasons, the fact that his middle name is Hussein. She also notes that Sen. Obama's father was "apparently a Muslim," and his stepfather was "likely a Muslim," while failing to mention that both were nonpracticing.

But Schlussel is not the first right-winger to key into Obama's middle name.

Among those who have made a point of mentioning it on air in recent months are Republican strategist Ed Rogers, Fox News senior political correspondent Carl Cameron and Rush Limbaugh, Media Matters reports. Other cunning media linguists have noted that "only one little consonant differentiates" Obama and Osama. Look forward to more name-game insinuation in the months to come!

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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