An illegitimate black child came between John McCain and his last quest for the White House. It's the stuff of legend. McCain had badly beaten then Governor Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary. A victory in the subsequent contest in South Carolina would have likely delivered the knockout blow, but Charlie Condon, the former State Attorney General, intervened. Condon, undoubtedly acting at the behest of the Bush campaign, initiated a whisper campaign suggesting that the Arizona Senator had fathered a black child out of wedlock.
The tactic worked, perhaps because McCain does have a child of color, a daughter of Bangladeshi descent whom he and his wife adopted from Mother Teresa's orphanage. At the time, McCain was campaigning with her, so the allegation, levied in the former Confederacy, gained traction. Bush took the state and went on to win the nomination and the presidency. McCain said that there was a "special place in Hell" for those who spread the rumor, but later claimed he got over the episode. He now emulates the smear tactics used against him.
McCain's in a bind. The economy is in recession, and the war in Iraq, which he so vociferously backed, is a mess, as is the situation in Afghanistan. Inflation's up, as is unemployment, while housing prices are down, possibly falling more precipitously than they did during the Depression. Recent disclosure that the deficit will surpass half a trillion dollars next fiscal year adds to the grim state of affairs. Not surprisingly, most Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. McCain, who long ago abandoned his bullheaded independence, has snuggled up to Bush, endorsing, in particular, the president's calamitous fiscal policies and Iraq misadventure. His identification with the status quo ensures his being a surefire loser, unless he can pull a rabbit out of the hat.
With a record best ignored, McCain, Nixon-like, has begun questioning Obama's patriotism. In an oft-repeated line, he says that Obama, by calling for a politically popular withdrawal from Iraq, would lose a war to win a campaign. Similarly, a television advertisement claims that Obama cancelled a visit with wounded troops during his recent trip abroad when informed that cameras could not come along. It closes with the campaign's jingoistic new slogan, "McCain, country first." It's not an arbitrary attack. Polls show widespread misperceptions about Obama's background. Fully 25 percent of respondents in one Newsweek poll erroneously believe that Obama was raised in the Islamic faith. Why not, then, go for the jugular by alleging that Obama, who spent part of his early childhood in Muslim Indonesia, doesn't bleed red, white, and blue?
Why not, indeed. John McCain has long since abandoned his scruples. Look no further than South Carolina, where he hired none other than Charlie Condon to run his campaign. Stay turned. Perhaps we'll soon hear that Obama sired an illegitimate white child.
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