Friday, October 24, 2008

It's A Hoax

It was so transparently obvious to me that I didn't even write about it earlier. Ashley Todd, the McCain campaign worker who claimed that she was beaten, robbed, and had a backwards "B" carved into her cheek by a "six-foot-four black man," was lying. From the first this sounded too much like too many other, similar cover stories and alibis to me: first, a large black man is identified as as the culprit (it's never a short brother, always some guy six-foot-two or more), and an innocent white woman is said to be the victim. I've watched this Pittsburgh story unfold over the last few days, and as I thought would happen, the story unraveled as the black assailant was proven to be imaginary, and the white female "victim" was this time revealed as a mentally ill woman, now repenting her guilt over the original accusation. We've heard this one before, and if you like it, I've got a bridge to nowhere to sell to you.

What I found interesting was the reaction in the rightwing blogosphere to the alleged crime. Almost as one, the wingnuts were falling over themselves in an almost gleeful reaction to the story. The usual suspects, Drudge, Hannity et alia, intoned the usual expressions of fear, disdain, and warning. But no one descended into the darkness of this story as much as Faux News. Faux Executive VP John Moody blogged the following (emphasis mine):
Part of the appeal of, and the unspoken tension behind, Senator Obama’s campaign is his transformational status as the first African-American to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

That does not mean that he has erased the mutual distrust between black and white Americans, and this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election.

If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
I guess that's it for McCain, then. Ohhh, the gnashing of teeth at Faux News when this story was proven to be false! The sturm und drang, the crocodile tears! And though McCain and Palin both called Ashley Todd after the alleged incident, neither one has had a word to say to her, the public, or the press since her lie was discovered. I find this reprehensible, and a telling indication of guilt.

What has emerged is the role of McCain campaign workers in spreading this hoax to the Pittsburgh media. Friday evening, Talking Points Memo's TPM Election Central directly identified the McCain campaign's communications director for Pennsylvania as personally responsible for spreading "an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established." Local police were understandably angered when the facts came out, correctly citing that possibility that the alleged attack could have mushroomed into "a national incident." Fortunately, they weren't fooled, and were suspicious of Ashley Todd, the alleged victim, from the beginning.

Make no mistake, McCain & Co. besmirched their reputation with their role in this farce. Dave Neiwert at Orcinus gets it:

Fox exec John Moody has it precisely right: the "Obama fan attacked McCain worker" hoax in fact does "forever link" the McCain campaign to race-baiting -- especially with news emerging of Team McCain's role in pushing this story out in the first place.

However, it's not just McCain. The entire Republican Party this year has been revealed as the Party of Racial Fear. Nor is it anything new: Republicans for years have tried to make hay off of racially incendiary cases that turn out to tell us more about the motives and worldviews of the torch-bearing mob than anything they might be chanting.

Along with John McCain, their credibility has just sustained a serious body blow. Couldn't be happening to a nicer bunch.
Exactly so. No matter how the wingnutosphere may try to claim that Ashley Todd was a "secret Obama supporter," the response of the McCain campaign revealed a willingness to plant the seeds of racial discord a little deeper, an urge to water the vile plant of racism a little more. Would they have rushed out talking points on this attack if the Democratic nominee was Hillary Clinton? Hell no! What were they thinking? Didn't they calculate the consequences if this story was false? No, just spread more fear, fear, fear!--it's the only thing they seem to know how to do, anymore.

The McCain campaign has demonstrated, ever since the selection of Sarah Palin, a willingness to try to draw to an inside straight, hoping to find that one card that will turn a fistful of crap into a winning hand. And as any dealer will tell you, never draw to an inside straight. The erratic behavior in the face of the financial meltdown, the ever-changing attacks on Obama, the recent news that campaign workers are now acting like rats deserting a sinking ship--all this speaks to a fundamental lack of intelligent planning, an inept emphasis of focusing on passing matters of the day rather than formulating a coherent, successful strategy, and a lack of persuasive reasons to vote for the ticket.

They know they have nothing, and they're grasping at every straw that floats by. And like Ashley Todd, in their hearts, they know it's all a lie.

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