Dear Mr. Feldman,
Bet you couldn’t believe your candidate’s luck. Here he is, getting crushed in the polls both nationally and in Pennsylvania, where you represent the local McCain campaign. Then, suddenly, one of your volunteers, a cherubic-looking Southern white girl, says she’s been brutally attacked by a menacing, 6 foot 4 inch black man. Even better, she says that he blurted out his motive, that he’s a Barack Obama supporter and she was obviously a McCain supporter. Being both black and an Obama supporter, he could not contain his rage at the sight of the other side, and so he robbed her, beat her, fondled her, and carved a “B” into his face with a four-inch knife, yelling “You’re going to support Barack!” That’s one version of what she said.
This is manna from heaven. This shows to whites in Western Pennsylvania how really dangerous Obama and his kind are: Lawless, violent, “disrespectful,” oversexed. Can’t keep their hands off our women. This is “Birth of a Nation” all over again. It’s a turning point for McCain in PA and maybe among the rest of white America. No way they’re going to vote for the big, scary black guy now–look what happens.
So you immediately rush this story out to at least two local news outlets, and on it goes. Your version is more incendiary than the police version: “It’s because she’s a McCain supporter! He carved a B in her face!” you cry. Soon every right-wing radio talk show host and FOX news (aka Old Faithful) are breathlessly reporting this story as a turning point in the campaign. Not that they’re racist, they insist, but because people will think they don’t know enough about Obama. (“How can we be sure he won’t do the same thing?”)
You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Never mind that you didn’t wait until the police finished their investigation, or that the “B” on her face was backwards, or that the whole story seemed really, really, really outlandish. It played to the fear of many whites, especially older whites, who were born to a country where the Negroes were kept separate, where they were taught to fear integration, miscegenation, mongrelization. You knew instinctively that this incident, if publicized just enough, is good for John McCain the Republican candidate. Racial fears have been good for Republicans since the Civil Rights Act, especially since Nixon used them to pull Southern whites away from voting Democratic. You can see yourself moving up party ranks, maybe even a position in the McCain administration, as the secret hero of the surprise McCain comeback.
Now it’s been revealed as a hoax. Before it was, John Moody, the VP of FOX News, wrote in a memo that if this story was a hoax, the McCain campaign would be finished, forever linked to race-baiting. What could he have meant, other than your hawking of this fake story to McCain’s advantage? Isn’t that the campaign race-baiting he’s talking about? Isn’t your status as an agent for the McCain campaign the only “link” to this absurdedly ugly, so-slimey-I-need-to-take-a-shower episode? Yes, the girl was primarily to blame, but she’s a clearly disturbed College Republican volunteer. You’re the one who ran with it, you’re the one who tried to give the story “legs.” And you did so in your capacity as spokesman for the John McCain for President campaign.
If you do not immediately resign, or are not immediately fired, the McCain campaign will be guilty not just of your actions (which it already is), but of validating them. The defense that “Oh, it was just an honest mistake” won’t cut it. You advanced an unconfirmed but racially charged story for the benefit of your candidate. That candidate is rightly judged by the people he hires and their actions. This type of mud sticks, and is hard to get off. Every American who heard that story before it was debunked has a right to feel that he or she has been “played” by the McCain campaign. Again.
Just when I think it can’t get any worse, somebody from the McCain campaign pulls this crap. It now reeks of desparation, and you have driven the final (I hope) nail in the coffin of John McCain’s once-tenable reputation. Pleasant dreams.