When Bill Cunningham, a local radio talk show host in Ohio, was called upon to warm up the crowd for a McCain Rally, he created a kerfuffle by referring to McCain’s probable opponent in the fall by his name. That is to say his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
Senator McCain immediately apologized, even though he was not even in the room when Cunningham committed the sin. Michelle Obama, a woman who is proving to be even more frightening than Hillary Clinton ever aspired to be, was even more blunt. “They threw in the obvious, ultimate fear bomb,” she declared.
But why? As the Bard once asked, what’s in a name?
Of course Hussein was the name of one of the most obnoxious tyrants of the last quarter of the twentieth century, who was overthrown by the American led invasion of Iraq and subsequently hanged for his crimes by his own people. Ironically, if Barack Obama had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be ensconced in Baghdad, oppressing his people and threatening world peace.
Of course Hussein was also the name of the previous King of Jordan, a very moderate, statesmanlike fellow by the standards of the Middle East. But it is not that Hussein that comes to mind when somewhat like Bill Cunningham says “Barack Hussein Obama”, drawing out every syllable with relish.
Is it really fair to do this? Obama and his defenders would say not, suggesting that it is akin to a racial slur to actually call the candidate by his full name. And surely no one would suggest that Obama actually approves of the mass murder and other crimes committed by his namesake, even though-as we’ve already mentioned-Saddam Hussein would still be doing all that if Obama had his way. Of course, to be fair, Obama is no more a terrorist because his middle name is “Hussein” than Bill Clinton is a slave owner because his middle name is “Jefferson.”
And there is a double standard, one has to admit. If John McCain were John Adolf McCain or John Benito McCain or even John Nixon McCain, John Stewart and Bill Maher would be leading off every show by referring to the Senator from Arizona by his full name, drawing out every syllable with-well-relish.
Indeed, in 1992, when Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa thought he might run for President, he referred to then President George H. W. Bush was “George Herbert Walker Bush”, the implication being that only an effete, upper class twit who was out of touch with the working man would ever have two middle names. There were no demands for an apology or accusations of class envy then. Of course Harkin lost the nomination to a little known governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton, so perhaps he was punished enough.
Yes, there is a double standard, but really it is something that is going to have to be sucked up. It may be good fun to remind people that Obama has an unfortunate middle name, but it will prove a distraction in which the fun is going to have to be defended ad infinitum. Besides, Obama’s actual positions on the issues, from favoring appeasement abroad to socialism at home to his obvious lack of readiness to actually be President, should suffice to sink him and sink him deep.