BY JOHN FUND
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL'S POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE
13 OCTOBER 08
Georgia Rep. John Lewis has decided that the McCain campaign is channeling Southern segregationist George Wallace. The civil rights icon issued a statement over the weekend saying, "What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history." He accused Team McCain of "hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse."
New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis followed up by accusing the McCain campaign of using Willie Horton tactics, referring to a 1988 ad by an independent group supporting George H. W. Bush against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, involving rapist and murderer Willie Horton, who was released from prison on a furlough program supported by Mr. Dukakis. On one of his furloughs, Horton raped a woman in front of her husband. Even Mr. Louis acknowledges the incident was "fair game, to a point." But the use of Horton's image in a single commercial "became the worst kind of racial scare-mongering, a low point in modern politics," he says, before sliding into an unexplained parallel to the fact that "McCain has begun harping on Obama's tenuous connection to William Ayers, an ex-radical who served with Obama on the six-member board of a Chicago charity."
What is curious about these attacks is that there are almost no specific examples. Congressman Lewis cites no examples and Mr. Louis only refers to Mr. McCain's attacks on the Obama-Ayers connections without saying how they implicate racism. Mr. Ayers is white and investigations by both the New York Times and CNN have found that Mr. Obama appears to have obscured the extent of his relationship with the unrepentant Weather Underground bomber.
Last week, Mr. McCain responded to a woman at a rally who called Mr. Obama "an Arab" by saying she was wrong and that his opponent was a decent man whom he had disagreements with. To date, Mr. McCain has never used the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 20-year association with Barack Obama against him -- a forbearance that was nonetheless rewarded with the kind of attacks that Rep. Lewis and Mr. Louis launched over the weekend. Just imagine the reaction from Obama supporters if Mr. McCain had even dipped his toe into the Rev. Wright controversy.
Claiming that race has been injected into a campaign when it clearly hasn't is cheap demagoguery and does nothing to improve race relations in this country.