"Osama" for president? That's what voters in a county neighboring New York's capital city saw on their ballots when they got them this week. Rensselaer County elections officials say it was just an error...certainly not an attempt to sway those voters.
I'd love to take them at their word, but 'b' and 's' aren't exactly neighbors on the keyboard, and it's just such a conveniently devastating change to replace the Democratic nominee with America's most hated terrorist.
It's bad timing, coming on the heels of a Republican campaign that nearing slipped over the edge into hate-mongering. Lou Dobbs, he of the blindingly white teeth and the conviction that illegal immigrants are to blame for every problem in this country, tore into the Obama campaign for not more forcefully rebuking Congressman John Lewis who compared the McCain tactics of the past week to the hate spread by racist legend George Wallace.
Obama downplayed the incident, but anyone watching the screaming rallies led by ultra right cheerleader Sarah Palin could see the danger. Crowds yelled "string him up" and "terrorist!" and Palin nodded and continued. It was left to John McCain to grab the mike from one fear-crazed woman and tell her that no, Senator Obama isn't an Arab, isn't a terrorist, is a decent Christian man who loves his country.
It clearly scared McCain's camp when his supporters booed him in response. And if "Mr. Independent" couldn't recognize the danger, at least McCain did.
Now he's back to the "We can do it!" school of campaigning, a place where he's more effective and more comfortable, and a lot less inflammatory.