22 days to go, Republican campaign gets dirty

Saturday October 11 2008


The world has elected Barack Obama president of the United States. It is now waiting to see if the Americans will reject him on November 4.

So far that appears a long shot because Obama now has a double digit lead in opinion polls and, more importantly, states which have previously voted, and are known to be Republican or red, are turning Democrat and blue.

Indeed, personally I am still trying to figure out why, with a depressed economy, an unpopular Iraqi war, a terribly unpopular Republican in the White House, and a grumpy old rival, Obama has not closed this poll deal already.

A struggling Republican campaign has gone negative and dirty and could up the ante further as there are only 22 days to go.

Consider the following scenarios.

In the 1960s, during the protests against the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War, a certain American named William Ayers was a member of a group that called itself Weather Underground. This group carried out harmless bomb attacks against the American government and had, in its sights, such landmarks as the Pentagon.

Forty years later, Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Obama’s home state of the same name.

Now Prof Ayers hosted a tea or dinner or whatever for Obama when he made his debut in politics in 1995.

When Ayers was an active activist in the 60s, Obama was eight years old. But now the struggling Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin ticket is alleging that Obama has an association with terrorists.

Palin is saying that Obama is hiding something from the American people and that he considers the US an imperfect country which is why he is palling with terrorists.

The attempt to tag Obama as a violent man is not confined to the US.

Last week, American right wing journalist and author Dr Jerome Corsi was set to launch his book Obama Nation here in Kenya. Notice that the name Obama Nation is a clever play on the word abomination.

Note that Corsi was here to tell Kenyans and the world about findings of an investigation into the role of Obama in the election violence that engulfed Kenya early this year.

Corsi, who writes that the elder Obama killed himself out of drink driving and portrays him as what Americans would call the marrying type or one who has been married many times, is linking Obama and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to the violence.

And, he regards Raila as a communist, therefore suggesting that Obama, too, is a communist.

Last, Corsi, who writes for the right wing American online publication worldnetdaily.com, came armed with a cheque for Obama’s younger sibling who is portrayed by American media as living in poverty.

The idea here being to show that Obama has abandoned his Kenyan family.

Folks, we are not done. In the last presidential debate grumpy McCain referred to Obama as “that one”.

Of course, he had not forgotten Obama’s name. It was his disdain for his rival coming through and a clear suggestion that Obama is not like he McCain and other Americans.

Many African-Americans have been quoted as saying that they consider the remark racist and to have been made to have that effect.

Notice that throughout the debate, McCain refused to look at Obama whenever the latter was up answering questions or responding to his jibes. At the end of the first debate, McCain avoided looking at Obama.

McCain does not like Obama and he does not hide it.

Now, there was a very angry person at a Senator John McCain rally the other day.

Holding the microphone he told the crowd, while looking at McCain that he was mad, mad that socialists, such as Obama and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, were about to take over the United States of America.

Another asked McCain to go after his Democratic rival Barack Obama and show him for what he is, that is, I believe, a liberal.

Yet another alleged that Obama has surrounded himself with dubious characters and he should be exposed.

Republican supporters are frustrated and pretty angry and they are showing it at McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s campaign rallies. They are asking McCain and Palin to go after Obama ferociously.

Indeed some are screaming obscenities and death threats at the mention of Obama’s name at these rallies.

Yet others are insisting on calling him Barack Hussein Obama to link him to terror and, of course, Osama bin Laden.

Playing the role of attack dog, Palin has cranked up attacks on Obama’s character as the race for the White House gets nasty. She does not provide evidence that Obama and Ayers are comrades-in-arms against the US.

But by invoking the words ‘‘bombing’’ and ‘‘terrorists’’, she seeks to instill fear in Americans who are yet to forget the September 2001 atrocities in New York and Washington.

Like brilliant constitutional lawyer Wachira Maina, I believe Obama is not a Kenyan story.

Obama is an American with Kenyan roots but, for the first time, I am convinced that Corsi & Co, McCain and Palin would like to lay their hands on reason to declare the man is Kenyan and, therefore, not eligible for the White House.

I am tempted to believe that the reason Obama has not yet sewn up this win is not because he is the change candidate for McCain stole his change clothes at the Republican Convention.

I have this feeling that the matter is that great unmentionable called race that is causing unease among some Americans.

The world has spoken. Come on, America!

The writer is a media consultant.