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 February, 2008


 A Hard-Wired McCain Supporter Gets Out of Control

What’s in a (Middle) Name?
Al Owens

If you still believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, you’re as dumb as a rock. That doesn’t prevent people like Ann Coulter from continuing to refer to him as Barack HUSSEIN Obama – with a heavy emphasis on the HUSSEIN.

The other day, Cincinnati hyper-conservative radio talk show agitator Bill Cunningham was the warm up act for a John McCain rally. He gleefully called Obama a hack and a fraud, while spitting out repeated references to Obama’s middle name.
Cunningham, in case you didn’t know, has a long history of creating controversies that attract the pre-school wing of the Republican Party. That makes him quite popular – I might add.

McCain got word that he’d followed Cunningham that day, and he responded with anger. “I condemn it,” he told reporters. “My entire campaign, I have treated Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton with respect. I will continue to do so throughout my campaign.”

Cunningham, responding with all of the maturity of a schoolyard bully who’d been confronted by somebody his own size, rushed to Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes show and continued his bluster. Except he was no longer attacking Obama, he trained his wrath on McCain himself. “I’m going to follow the lead of Ann Coulter. I’ve had it with John McCain. I’m going to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, because she would do a better job in the Oval Office,” Cunningham announced.

Let’s see. A few hours earlier, Cunningham had served as a rodeo clown at a McCain rally, but because he’d been chided for showing a distinct contempt for civility – he was going to support somebody he apparently hates.

So much for these supposed diehard conservatives, who would trade their allegiances when asked not to show bad taste.

Cunningham pleaded his case by trying to convince Hannity and Colmes that by merely using Obama’s middle name, he’s done nothing more than using the standard for presidents and presidential candidates. He maintained that John Kennedy is also known as John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That Hillary Clinton is also known as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I get it. Cunningham is only being a presidential historian when he tries to connect Barack Obama to Saddam Hussein, by using Obama’s middle name.

Somebody then, mention to Cunningham that Hillary Clinton’s middle name isn’t Rodham. It’s Diane.

Somebody should also remind him that no less a flame thrower than Karl Rove even considers the HUSSEIN thing unproductive. “The use of Barrack HUSSEIN Obama,” he told the same Hannity and Colmes the following night, “would perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted and would hurt the party.”

I think it’s to Rove’s and McCain’s credit that they are showing these flashes of decency. But I also believe they’re fully aware of the obvious hurdles Republicans must traverse within their own party, because there are people in their own ranks who don’t want a fair fight for the presidency.

You surely know there has been a shaky truce between hard core right-wingers and McCain these past few days. McCain suffered a blistering attack by the New York Times, and those who’d previously questioned his conservative meddle had immediately jumped to his defense.

Well, they’re back at odds with him now, for showing, once again, he doesn’t hate liberals. That he doesn’t want low blows to dominate his candidacy.

This is further proof that, to me, that support for any Republican nominee will ultimately be a mile wide, but an inch deep.

No sooner did Rush Limbaugh get the word that McCain had offered a rebuke of Cunningham, he launched his own attack. He defended Cunningham, and curiously blamed the whole thing on liberals.

“My reaction is, we’re getting dangerously close here to where the liberals are telling us what we can and can’t say,” he told his radio audience. “We can’t say the guy’s name,” he said.

Well, I’ll admit I don’t talk to every liberal in the United States, but I can tell you that I haven’t heard a single liberal tell Bill Cunningham he can’t use Obama’s middle name. In fact, John McCain didn’t say Cunningham couldn’t use his middle name either. He was just using the simple logic that it’s his campaign rally, and he maintains that he will be responsible for the message at it.

Limbaugh somehow decided Cunningham’s unintentional comedy routine the other day is a matter of free speech. It’s no more that than a hippie’s call for freedom of expression at a supermarket that posted a sign that read: No shoes, no shirts, no service.

McCain had only said it’s my store, and I’ll call the shots. Of course, he now knows what I’ve known for a number of weeks – it really isn’t his store, and never has been.