The hatred spewing at the McCain/Palin rallies is sinking to a frightening level.
“Terrorist!” one man screamed Monday at a New Mexico rally after McCain voiced the campaign’s new rhetorical staple aimed at raising doubts about the Illinois senator: “Who is the real Barack Obama?”
“He’s a damn liar!” yelled a woman Wednesday in Pennsylvania. “Get him. He’s bad for our country.”
At both stops, there were cries of, “Nobama,” picking up on a phrase that has appeared on yard signs, T-shirts and bumper stickers.
McCain, in his town hall meetings, is giving a platform to the rants. He could stop them, but he lets the hate come forth.
And Thursday, at a campaign town hall in Wisconsin, one Republican brought the crowd to its feet when he used his turn at the microphone to offer a soliloquy so impassioned it made the network news and earned extended play on Rush Limbaugh’s program.
“I’m mad; I’m really mad!” the voter bellowed. “And what’s going to surprise ya, is it’s not the economy — it’s the socialists taking over our country.”
After the crowd settled down he was back at it. “When you have an Obama, Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there gonna run this country, we gotta have our head examined!”
This is different from past elections — materially different.
Such contempt for Democrats is, of course, nothing new from conservative activists. But in 2000 and 2004, the Republican rank and file was more apt to ridicule Gore as a stiff fabulist or Kerry as an effete weather vane of a politician.
…Now, though, the emotion on display is unadulterated anger rather than mocking.
Activists outside rallies openly talk about Obama as a terrorist, citing his name and purported ties to Islam in the fashion of the viral e-mails that have rocketed around the Internet for over a year now.
Some of this activity is finding its way into the events, too.
On Thursday, as one man in the audience asked a question about Obama’s associations, the crowd erupted in name-calling.
“Obama Osama!” one woman called out.
And twice this week, local officials have warmed up the crowd by railing against “Barack Hussein Obama.”
Some Republicans worry about this.
…The raw emotions worry some in the party who believe the broader swath of swing voters are far more focused on their dwindling retirement accounts than on Obama’s background and associations and will be turned off by footage of the McCain events.
John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist, said top Republicans have a responsibility to temper this behavior.
“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain,” Weaver said. “And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.”
…“It’s time that you two are representing us, and we are mad,” reiterated the boisterous Republican at McCain’s town hall in Wisconsin Thursday. “So go get ’em!”
“I am begging you, sir, I am begging you — take it to him,” pleaded James T. Harris, a local talk radio host at the same event, earning an extended standing ovation.
“Yosemite Sam is having the law laid down to him today in Waukesha, Wis.,” quipped Limbaugh on his show Thursday, referring to the GOP nominee. “This guy, this audience member, is exactly right,” the conservative talk show host said of the first individual.
“You are running for president. You have a right to defend this country. You have a responsibility to defend this country and not just fulfill some dream you had eight years ago running for president against Bush. It’s time to start naming names and explain what’s actually going on, because, Sen. McCain, the people of this country are dead scared about what we face if you lose.”
No one I’ve read yet says the unthinkable, but they’re coming close. The author uses the word “lynching,” but what McCain is stoking is an assassination attempt against Obama.