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Earl Ofari Hutchinson Headshot

Don't Write the Epitaph Just Yet for The October Surprise

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The much vaunted October surprise turned out to be not one surprise but a succession of surprises. And they all seemed to go bust. Let's tick them off. Obama allegedly broke bread with a Palestinian terrorist and in the process nodded and even spewed anti-Israel, pro Palestinian utterances. Obama's campaign operated as a money laundering front. That is the campaign got stacks of cash from illegal, foreign, and even deceased donors all by gerrymandering the required internet verification screening mechanisms.

Obama praised his infamous, alleged race baiting former pastor Jeremiah Wright as the best the black church has to offer. Obama insisted that the courts didn't go far enough during the civil rights era and should have redistributed the wealth to the black poor. Then there's his Kenyan side aunt who's been living for years in the U.S. illegally and in poverty supposedly with his full knowledge.
So the multi count indictment against Obama reads like this. He is an anti-Israel (and closet anti-Semitic) PLO fellow traveler, who washes illegal money, is a stealth race baiter, who wants to mug the rich, and harbors illegal aliens. If one, or more of these charges were true it wouldn't just dump Obama's campaign. It would dump him in a jail cell. The temptation is to howl so hard with laughter at the pathetic absurdity of the charges that tears well up. The charges are, of course, overblown, twisted, and obviously an 11th hour last gasp at muckraking. They have predictably gained no legs in the MSM, and have come way to late in the game to change anything for McCain or against Obama . Yet there's just enough bare fact, distorted and politically connived as they, are in the charges that they are steady grist for the internet Obama rumor, gossip and hit mill.

The real danger is that though the October surprises fizzled into non-surprises in October they could morph into real torments for an Obama White House in November and beyond.

This kind of stuff always poisons the political well, and for the millions who are already disposed to think the worst of Obama, the political hits will continue to stir whispers, raised eyebrows, finger pointing and I told you sos at any and every Obama White House policy fumble or misstep.
Obama seemed to realize that danger and quickly moved to head off the trouble it can cause for his young administration. His senior advisors recently told the London Times that they will damp down expectations of miracle working during his first few months in office.

This was wise on another count. The recent lessons of first term presidents Clinton and W. Bush are still very fresh in mind. Both were alternately plagued and hammered during their first election campaigns by ugly and dirty rumors, gossip, and hits on and about their personal lives--dope and alcohol binges, sex trysts, financial wheels and deals. The manure spreading didn't end when both took office but was spread even wider. In the case of Clinton, the charges escalated into relentless take no prisoners warfare against him during every waking moment of his presidency. In the case of Bush, they further weakened an already painfully suspect, overwhelmed, bungling, and floundering presidency. It took the still hotly debated 9/11 horror to momentarily rescue a presidency that even then was well on its way to being ranked the worst in American history.

As for Obama; he will be the most watched president in American history, a wrong sneeze, sniffle or cough will draw criticism. The October surprises that didn't happen in October will be just one more thing to fuel that criticism. Don't write the epitaph just yet for them.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).