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Going Beyond the Pale-in: (Character) Assassination

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We already knew that she was stunningly ignorant. Now she has shown herself to be shockingly evil.

John McCain is someone who has totally lost his moral compass (Sarah Palin may never have had one). He and everyone in his campaign have become what Mrs. Palin's prototype, Spiro Agnew, called (in William Safire's words), "nattering nabobs of negativism."

We have long known that many Republicans will stoop to anything to win. Karl Rove's 2004 success in depicting a man wounded in the Vietnam War as an anti-American coward and Rove's own chickenhawk president as a brave, patriotic American was disgusting.

But what the McCain campaign is doing now, principally through its winking, nose-crinkling Spiro Agnew/Dick Nixon, has gone beyond the lowest levels of Lee Atwater and Rove.

The patently false charges linking Barack Obama with terrorists not only tear the country apart, but are certain to lead some unhinged people to draw the logical conclusion. Some dupes of these reprehensible statements by Palin and McCain are going to think that a patriot must act to stop this "terrorist" from taking over the presidency.

Their shouts have already been heard from the mobs at Palin and McCain rallies this week: "Traitor!" "Terrorist!" "Kill him!" Mrs. Palin nods and winks.

When does character assassination cross the line and begin to encourage physical assassination?

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Were, God forbid, the unthinkable to happen, it would not be unreasonable to charge Sarah Palin and John McCain as accessories before the fact.

They would rather lose a country than lose an election.

We knew John McCain. He was, we thought, a friend of ours. And you, McCain version 08, are no John McCain.

Have you at long last, sir, no sense of decency?

If you do, stop this evil line of campaign lies before it's too late.

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{Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. His latest book is Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America 2008-07-01-GTJcoversm.jpg.}

Robert S. McElvaine is a professor of history at Millsaps College and the author of ten books. He is a frequent contributor to the op ed pages of the major national newspapers and blogs for the Huffington Post. His latest book is "Grand Theft (more...)

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This smear campaign against Sarah Palin is what... by Scott on Friday, Oct 10, 2008 at 11:53:02 PM
Just because she seemingly doesn't know how to... by alan k on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 11:10:15 AM
oh, and I forgot to mention... You said: Turnin... by alan k on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 11:20:11 AM
How about Palin's recent association with the ... by Dave Peter on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 2:08:31 PM
Obama was on a board with Ayers, three decades aft... by francine on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 4:06:02 AM
It's not just McCain pallin' around with L... by Kiko on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 7:04:27 AM
It is hard to know how people will react to charge... by Bill Samuel on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 8:53:11 AM
Bill,You have put your finger on what is my greate... by W. Christopher Epler (Bill) on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 7:40:35 PM
Makes no difference what you call Palin, she is be... by virginius "gin" arnold on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 11:45:21 AM
It's too bad to be this cynical -- but I can&#... by Wisewoman on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 11:51:26 AM
Hmmm.  Plausible, very plausible.  ... by W. Christopher Epler (Bill) on Saturday, Oct 11, 2008 at 7:43:09 PM