It kept getting worse all week. Again on Friday a McCain-Palin supporter called Barack Obama a "traitor," and John McCain said nothing. He used to challenge racist hecklers on the trail; he used to say he wanted to run an honorable campaign. But lately he and pit bull Sarah Palin are attacking Obama personally and politically in every city, from every platform. And they seem to be savoring the disgusting hate they're fomenting -- Obama being called "terrorist," "traitor," "socialist." Haters screaming "Kill him."
Finally McCain kinda sorta stood up to a supporter in Minnesota who denounced Obama as an "Arab." McCain replied, "No, ma'am, he's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with." At another point, he said, "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States," to boos and groans from the crowd.
It's the topic of my Current video this week (text continues after video):
It's no accident McCain stood up after several honorable Republicans and former McCain supporters began to speak out about his campaign's hate-mongering. On Friday Michigan's former GOP governor William Milliken started backing away from the guy he endorsed.
"He is not the McCain I endorsed," Milliken told a local paper. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.
"I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues."
Frank A. Schaeffer, a McCain friend and former supporter (McCain blurbed his book on military service), has denounced the McCain campaign in a Baltimore Sun Op-Ed he cross-posted on Open Salon.
"Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs," Schaeffer warned. Strong words, but he's right. Even former McCain staffers like Mike Murphy and John Weaver are criticizing the tenor of the campaign. As David Gergen said on CNN Thursday night: "There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we're not far from that."
On "Hardball" today the GOP's Ed Rogers defended McCain and attacked me when I echoed Gergen and suggested the McCain-Palin demonization of Obama was creating a climate that could lead to violence. Luckily John McCain agreed with me, and disagreed with Rogers.
Update: Wow, I just watched the video, and I belatedly remembered: It was Ed Rogers who first called the Illinois senator "Barack Hussein Obama" on "Hardball" in November 2006. Wish I'd remembered this afternoon!
Here's the video: