The right wing smear campaign against Barack Obama is intensifying, with false claims that the Christian, patriotic Senator actually harbors a secret Muslim history and hates America so much he won't even say the pledge of allegiance. The effort has morphed from Internet rumblings and chain emails, as The Nation reported in October, to high profile attacks from the G.O.P. this month -- before Obama has even locked up the nomination.
In the past week, a state Republican Party used the smear in a press release titled "Anti-Semites for Obama" – which it later revised; a radio host raised the innuendo while speaking at a John McCain rally -- McCain swiftly apologized for the remark; and Republican Congressman Jack Kingston went on national television to falsely claim that Obama "would not say the pledge of allegiance." Kingston also whined that Obama does not wear an American flag pin, drawing an MSNBC anchor to note Kingston was also pin-less. "I will wear one and I have worn one!" Kingston retorted.
So far, the Obama Campaign has effectively battled the multi-pronged smear with several tacks. Obama often prebuts the charges in campaign speeches; his aides circulate fact sheets and ply voters with letters from clergy and generals; and his Internet team bought Google ads targeting smear searches, in order to draw the curious to a fact page with videos of Obama reciting the pledge on the Senate floor. The campaign's anti-propaganda ranges from the comically blunt, like a November announcement that "Obama Is a Patriot Who Loves His Flag and His Country," to fairly thoughtful offerings, like a video message from a minister at Obama's church, sharing her experience with confusion about his faith. The minister, Jane Fisler Hoffman, explains how she truth-squaded a woman who told a Muslim man that Obama was also Muslim:
"We overheard it and jumped in and said two things: First of all, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being Muslim. But second of all, Senator Obama does not happen to be Muslim. He's a Christian and he's a member of our church." (MORE)