You can call his momma and daddy on that one.
- - Robin Smith, TNGOP Chair, defending her organization's tactical overemphasis on Barack Obama's middle name, which is "Hussein" (as common a given name in the Muslim world as "Peter" or "Paul" are in Christian culture). Senator Obama's parents are deceased. Smith had Hussein references removed from the offending TNGOP website today at the behest of Senator Lamar Alexander and after Senator John McCain criticized TNGOP.
UPDATE: Progressive Nashville spanks TNGOP:
Yes, it is the man's name -- a derivation of the name of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. But Tennessee's GOP is hoping the name will inspire fear in the uninformed and subtly raise questions about the candidate ....
This decision by Tennessee's Republican Party shows that its leaders have such a low regard for the American system that they believe cheap stunts like this are acceptable behavior when asking voters for the privilege of running their government.
UPDATE: TNGOP went where even Sith Lords fear to tread. Says Carpetbagger, "my hunch is Robin Smith’s petty nonsense comes across more as the sad rantings of a desperate hack than an effective political strategy."
UPDATE: TennViews uncovers common screed-sourcing between TNGOP and the Tennessee Chapter of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.
UPDATE: National political blogger Josh Marshall sees McCain's criticism of TNGOP as not nearly dramatic enough to suggest that TNGOP's sleaze is not part of McCain's campaign strategy:
Hopefully, everyone can now see the McCain strategy for running against Barack Obama ....
The core is to drill a handful of key adjectives into the public mind about Barack Obama: Muslim, anti-American,BLACK, terrorist, Arab. Maybe a little hustler and shifty thrown in, but we'll have to see. The details and specific arguments are sort of beside the point ....
Don't insult your intelligence or mine by pretending that John McCain's plan for this race doesn't rely on ... all the GOP third party groups, to be peddling this stuff nonstop for the next eight months because it's the only way John McCain have a real shot at contesting this race.
If McCain really wants to repudiate this stuff, he can start with the Tennessee Republican party which dished all the slurs and smears about Obama being a Nation of Islam-loving anti-Semite, just today.
UPDATE: TPM conveys via Politico that the Republican National Committee has "warned" TNGOP about using Barack Obama's middle name. David Kurtz is not impressed:
you can associate Obama with Louis Farrakhan and anti-semitism, you can repeat garbage from Farrakhan and make it look like Obama approves of it, and you can cast all sorts of other aspersions about Obama, but use "Hussein" and you've crossed some invisible line drawn by the RNC (which it will enforce with anonymous hand-wringing and ineffectual warnings).
Sure enough, the press release is still up, stripped of the Hussein reference (we captured a portion of the earlier version, with Hussein intact). The author of the press release was state communications director Bill Hobbs. Ironically, Hobbs apparently missed the sarcasm in Josh's satirical post below about these attempts to smear Obama, and late today he was approvingly citing it in a post on his own blog.
Meanwhile, the McCain campaign says their candidate condemned the press release and apologized to Obama, Smith reports. But, really, what's the McCain camp to do?