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The Collective
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via CNN: McCain apology angers conservative host

In his first public comment since Tuesday’s event, Cunningham defended his use of Hussein, which he called “a proud Muslim name.”

“I have nothing but respect for my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said. “The ones who oppose that particular name, they’re the ones with the problem, not me. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

See, he was just extolling Obama’s Muslim parentage, because he respects it so. It has nothing to do with trying to incite islamophobia about Obama or to stir the pot on ridiculous Manchurian candidate theories. Nope, just respect for Muslims, you know, like Obama (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).1

And, of course, it is normal to stress the middle names of candidates, and there is not on iota of an attempt to stress “Hussein”. You know, we are always talking about Hillary Diane Clinton, and John Sidney McCain. And I remember that poignant moment in the 1988 race wherein Vice President Bush said that he always loved Michael Stanley Dukakis’ middle name because he had once had a puppy of the same name.

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  1. And for the sarcasm impaired, I am aware that Obama is not a Muslim. []
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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | |

7 Comments

  1. Given the fact-as Tim Russert implied last night-that Obama has Louis Faraakahn as a paid advisor, this makes his Islamic lineage relevant.

    Comment by Ratoe — Wednesday, February 27, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

  2. [...] Karl Rove and John McCain’s efforts notwithstanding, the seeds for this religious xenophobia were sown over the last seven years, and the harvest is now ripe. We — all of us — are going to have to stop seeing such paranoia as the mad ravings of a lunatic fringe, and deal with it somehow. It’s much bigger than that. [...]

    Pingback by Polimom Says » It’s more than a lunatic fringe — Wednesday, February 27, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  3. Dr. Taylor,

    Dukakas middle name wasn’t Stanley because he had a dog by that name. He was named Stanley because that was the name of the gentleman that took the Dukakas’s (his parents) in when they immigrated to this country and saw to it they were educated. He was the principle of the Haverhill high school in Mass. It gets worse, when it was found that corrupt lawyers and politicians wiped out his scholarship fund in the 1980’s.. about 3/4 million dollars to poor children. Dukakas who was the governor influenced the attorney general not to get involved. He chose his career over doing the right thing. He needed the support of the local politicans and to hell with Stanley Gray.

    Comment by Steve Hatch — Wednesday, February 27, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

  4. While I sure wouldn’t want MY middle name stressed if it were Hussein or Stalin or Mao or something similar, there’s something a bit creepy to me that we are culturally forbidden to use the name of someone who wants to be President. It tranforms Obama into Candidate Voldemort, He Who Must Not Be Named, lest the swooning Death Eaters pursue you to your doom.

    Comment by Richard Scott Nokes — Wednesday, February 27, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  5. Scott,

    I am going to come across as perhaps a tad grumpy here, but come on, you are a smart fellow and you know full well that the deployment of Obama’s middle name by Cunningham, and by a number of other political commentators, is not just a desire to say the man’s full name a la Lyndon Baines Johnson. It is a clear attempt to appeal to the darker side of some members of the electorate who see some possible horror in the fact that Obama’s father was Muslim.

    The sad fact that there are people out there who really do think that Obama is a secret (or not so secret) Muslim who might really have sympathies for al Qaeda, and we have even seen these bizarre whispers that he is some sort of Manchurian candidate. The drumbeat of the middle name is to emphasize it and to appeal to these fears. And I see no reason not to call Cunningham and his ilk on this kind of tawdriness.

    No one, certainly not I, am saying that it should be forbidden to say the man’s name, but are you really going to tell me that that is all the Cunningham was doing? That he was just innocently saying the name for no other reason than, say, the formality of the occasion?

    And I think you should give me some credit, as I am clearly not swooning as a result of the utterances in question.

    Steven

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Wednesday, February 27, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

  6. I think this may have been a case where tone was lost in the text.

    I did not mean to imply that Cunningham’s comments were anything but an attempt to make just such a connection. Of course they were, despite his disingenuous protests to the contrary.

    Nor did I mean to imply that you are a swooner, nor even an Obama supporter. So far as I can tell, you’re neither.

    The point I was trying to make (with a failed light-hearted tone) was that the response to Cunningham’s ill-will is in essence to forbid us to use the candidate’s middle name is a pretty Orwellian response.

    Frankly, and I’m not in jest here, Cunningham’s name-calling strikes me no more tawdry than the typical name-calling of a Maureen Dowd column … though I will grant that both are pretty offensive. One is a cause for a candidate to repudiate the comments, whereas the others is cause for a Pulitzer Prize.

    Comment by Richard Scott Nokes — Thursday, February 28, 2008 @ 7:22 am

  7. Gotcha.

    And yes, I misread some of the tone-the perils of the medium along with the perils of late night responses right before bed, so I apologize for misreading your response.

    Part of my response was also influenced by my own overall disquietude about this particular issue, as I think it does go beyond your typical Dowd column, or even beyond your typical Coulter piece, as it is a clear attempt to associate, in a granted vague way, Obama with “the enemy” and it clearly a taunting and rude politics as well.

    Of course, part of what is galling is that it will work with some people, and indeed one doesn’t need to poke too far into the Blogosphere and other corners of the internet to see that it is.

    And, part of my annoyance with the whole “Hussein” business is that it represents a type of politics that I have grown especially tired of, but that I know isn’t going away, and indeed seem to dominate the discourse. Further, this Cunningham fellow, whom I heard interviewed yesterday, drips of disingenuousnesses and faux cleverness.

    So, again, my apologies for letting my grumpiness on the subject lead to a misinterpretation of your comment.

    I will still dissent over McCain’s apology-I think it was wholly appropriate, and indeed was polite. The bottom line is that Cunningham was being rude rather intentionally and McCain called him on it. That seems, to me, to be the right response.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, February 28, 2008 @ 7:34 am

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