McCain Shouts "Terrorist!" in a Crowded Theater

11/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Barry Yourgrau Author of Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act

McCain today released a shockingly inflammatory Obama-is-a-pal-of-terrorist-Bill-Ayers ad. Here's the link via Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan, who has been a mensch on McCain-Palin, calls the ad "dishonorable."

His Atlantic colleague Ross Douhat calls it "Gloves, Off."

In both their cases, the hell it is.

McCain has crossed over into territory where the dark stuff of politics seethes and boils. He is shouting "terrorist" in a crowded theater, and juicing things up with creepy racist touches (notice one of the images of Obama in the ad uses the main one from the Obama-Is-A-Pedophile ad).

Forget the ad's disgraceful content and distortions of fact (see Gail Collins op-ed in the Times today for a deft spiking of these).

I keep recalling: the poisonous climate revved up by right wing fundamentalists in Israel prior to Rabin's murder.

I keep recalling: the radio campaign by Hutu extremists against Tutsi "cockroaches" prior to the Rwanda horrors.

I keep recalling: the stabbed-in-the-back rhetoric that always seems to go along with some of the scariest movements of modern mass politics.

Are my recollections uncalled-for exaggerations? I sure as hell hope so.

But there is a seething proto-violent ugliness that McCain and Palin are whipping up in their dead embers.

If something were to happen to Obama... can you imagine what will result in this country? No, you do not want to go there. You do not want to recklessly tease any such possibility.

Republican politicians with half a soul or brain left--Schwarzenegger? Bloomberg? Hagel?--better tell McCain to shove the dark genie back in the bottle that is Steve Schmidt's catastrophic bullet head.