Yet another minor Obama slander has arisen today that may give a taste of the general election to come. Introducing a John McCain rally in Cincinnati, radio host Bill Cunningham repeatedly called Obama by all three names, as in “at one point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and start covering Barack Hussein Obama” and saying that the journalists should “peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama.” Crowd-pleasing stuff, at a McCain rally. Although McCain hastened to distance himself from these remarks, it's foretaste of things to come. It's also a haunting memory from one of the nastiest elections in the last 20 years, the 1988 contest between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, when Bush's campaign manager Lee Atwater famously said, re Dukakis: "I'll strip the bark off that little bastard and make Willie Horton his running mate."
The result was one of the most racially divisive elections in American history. "Stripping the bark"--perhaps William Safire can track down the derivation of that one-- never bodes well in American politics.