Numerous media outlets have articles Wednesday speculating about how Republicans will attempt to skewer the spouse of the presumptive Democratic nominee during the general election campaign. In her column for the New York Times, Maureen Dowd wrote, “It’s good news for Obama that Hillary’s out of the race. But it’s also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama.”
Last week, on his blog Ragged Thots, Robert A. George (a conservative who also writes for the New York Post) pointed out a distinct trend. Based on the presidential elections of the past 20 years, George says, the question is not if Republicans will go after Michelle Obama, but when. George writes of the alleged “whitey” tape: “No tape exists … This is the ’08 version of a really weird conservative urban legend that pops up every four years. The names change, but the basics remain the same: 1) It always involves the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate; 2) it always portrays the wife — not the candidate — committing some anti-American, unpatriotic act.”
In 1988, Idaho Sen. Steve Symms claimed that photographs existed of Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an antiwar protest. No such photos ever emerged and Dukakis denied the charge.
In 2004, John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, grabbed headlines for her altercation with a Pittsburgh conservative editorial writer who said she had used the term “un-American” in a speech. Kerry denied that she had used the phrase and told the writer to “shove it.” Right-wing Web sites like World Net Daily also propagated unfounded rumors that Heinz Kerry had links to terrorists.
And then, of course, there’s the long history of the fractious relationship Republicans have had with Hillary Clinton. So what does all this mean for 2008? Even though the “whitey” tape most likely does not exist (the rumor was originally floated by a Clinton supporter, blogger Larry Johnson), we’ll probably hear more about it as the campaign progresses. And if that rumor is forgotten, another one will probably emerge to fill the space. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Michelle is going to be a target, but it’s important to remember that she isn’t the first potential First Lady to be attacked unfairly. It’s part of a pattern.
Michelle no more can be seen in a video condemning ‘whitey’ than Kitty Dukakis burned the American flag or Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster.
But the shit is coming. Get ready.
Why do I have full confidence that the Obama team will deal well with these smears?