John McCain's campaign is making what appears to be a final, full-throated effort to paint Barack Obama as a sympathizer with the Muslim world. In the process they are putting out into the public domain as many images as possible of Obama's face cast over a map of the Middle East.
The latest salvo came Wednesday afternoon, when the Republican nominee released a web ad placing Obama's visage in front of an outline of Iran, and presenting aspects of the Senator's foreign policy alongside music that seems associated with Middle East culture or a traditional Muslim call to prayer.
"Obama doesn't have preconditions but Iran does. Iran, whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel must be wiped off the map. Iran demands that the U.S. must cease its support of Israel and that all U.S. military forces must leave the Middle East, meaning we abandon Iraq, Turkey and Kuwait. What will Obama do? Will he admit he was wrong or will he accept Iran's demands?'
The spot seems designed either to frighten voters away from Obama or confuse them into thinking the Illinois Democrat is more comfortable supporting Iranian interests than domestic concerns. The campaign put it out on the web, where provocative items are placed mainly to grab the media attention.
Indeed, the Republican ticket has been subtly pushing this line for days now. As the Huffington Post reported on Tuesday, the Republican Party of Florida is sending out a new mailer that places the Illinois Democrat's face right over a map of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. It accuses him of being "dangerously unprepared" and "no friend of Israel."
Hours earlier, the McCain campaign had taken the step of reissuing an old campaign ad (for what purpose, it isn't clear) that declared Obama had once called the threat from Iran: "tiny."
Additionally, McCain officials have been howling over video of a party attended by Obama and Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights. The story has been fueled by revelations that the Los Angeles Times has video footage of that party which the paper is refusing to release (citing an agreement with the providing source). But, as Seth Colter Walls reported, McCain has ties of his own to that very professor.
"During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars."
Taken together, the ads, flier and new line of attack seem designed to paint Obama as, at best too weak to handle the dangers of the Arab world or at worst, an 'outsider' in his own right. It is an attack that has followed Obama around since the early months of the primary and seems likely to continue to the day of the election.