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Say It Ain't So, Sarah: Palin Smears Obama With Year-Old Discredited Attack

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During an appearance on Fox News this Friday, Sarah Palin claimed that Barack Obama should be disqualified from serving as president because he had once proclaimed that troops in Afghanistan were "air raiding villages and killing civilians."

If the charge seemed oddly and painfully familiar it's because it has been levied at Obama - and subsequently dismissed - several times before during this election season.

The issue stems from a remark the Illinois Democrat made in August 2007, in Nashua, New Hampshire. Speaking to supporters, the Senator called for an increase of U.S. troops in that war zone because, without the influx, operations were being limited to air raids that resulted in many preventable civilian deaths.

"Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban," Obama said, "so we've got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages, and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there."

When the comment was first made, Republicans were eager to mold it into an electoral liability. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the RNC called it disrespectful and unbecoming of a presidential aspirant.

But within a day, objective observers were knifing through the faux-outrage. The AP fact-checked the claim by pointing out that none other than President Bush himself had bemoaned the excessive loss of innocent Afghani lives and the setback such casualties caused for U.S. military efforts there.

And yet, the GOP couldn't and wouldn't let the canard die. One year after Obama's initial remark, the McCain campaign marked the anniversary by randomly raising it in the form of a biting press release. That charge didn't create many waves. (The Huffington Post wrote an article examining that attack as well.) But the McCain campaign kept at it.

On Thursday night, Palin brought it up directly in the vice presidential debate, and actually intensified the smear. Rather than painting the remark as a gaffe borne of inexperience, as Republicans claimed last year, Palin implied that Obama was slandering U.S. forces as little more than murderers.

"Now," she declared, "Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause. That's not what we're doing there. We're fighting terrorists, and we're securing democracy..."

And on Friday, she repeated the line to minimal journalistic resistance.

"Some of his comments that he has made about the war that I think may -- in my world- disqualifies someone from consideration as the next commander in chief," she told Fox News. "Some of his comments about Afghanistan and what we are doing there supposedly- just air raiding villages and killing civilians. That's reckless."

The un-originality of the claim would seem to detract from its general newsworthiness. Not to mention the fact that it appears devoid of any reasonable context. And yet, hours after Palin's appearance on Fox, the headline on the Drudge Report read as follows:

"PALIN: OBAMA COMMENTS DISQUALIFY HIM FOR COMMANDER IN CHIEF"

For more, check out this fact-check video produced by Talking Points Memo when Obama made these remarks last year: