During the presidential campaign, political opponents of Barack Obama who went out of their way to use his middle name Hussein were often chastised for their implicit anti-Islamic fearmongering, even by allies. After talk-radio host Bill Cunningham repeatedly mentioned Obama’s middle name at a rally for John McCain, McCain himself said it was “totally inappropriate.” When the Tennessee Republican Party issued a press release that mentioned concern “about the future of the nation of Israel … if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States,” Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan said the “RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics.” And after Florida sheriff Mike Scott used Obama’s middle name when introducing Sarah Palin at a rally, Palin’s spokeswoman said the campaign does “not condone this inappropriate rhetoric.” It’s curious then, that Palin dropped the H-bomb last night on Fox News, and curiouser still when you consider the context in which she used it.
Here’s what Palin said to Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren:
In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday, Palin said the “lamestream media” is asking more questions about Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s background than it ever did about “Barack Hussein Obama.”
The argument in itself is rich, coming from someone who was vetted by the McCain campaign for all of eight minutes before she was selected to be next in line for the presidency. This myth that the media has “never asked questions” about Obama is, of course, absurd. There probably hasn’t been a single person in the history of the human race whose life has been more scrutinized, save for possibly Jesus Christ. The purpose, though, in pretending that we just don’t know much about Obama is to feed the doubts some people have about this biracial, exotically-named man’s mysterious, and possibly un-American, “otherness.”
It’s the same reason that Palin, who 99 percent of the time is satisfied with referring simply to “Barack Obama,” decided to use his middle name last night. In the context of discussing how allegedly little we know about Obama, referencing “Hussein” implies that Obama’s Muslim-sounding middle name may be related to such unknowns. Specifically, that he might be a Muslim. It was not a mistake.
It’s an outrageous tactic for Palin, knowing the influence she still somehow wields, to nourish this false belief of so many Americans. Are there any Republicans left who will condemn her, the same way she once condemned others for the same offense, or is this type of underhandedness now acceptable in the ever-rightward GOP?
Palin calls Obama ‘Barack Hussein’ [Political Ticker/CNN]