Thursday, October 16, 2008

GOP Site Endorses E-mail Smears, Said 'Waterboard Obama'

The website of a local California Republican party has posted a message openly calling for the torture of Barack Obama, while reporting as fact a slew of long-ago debunked smears targeting the Democratic presidential candidate.

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The Sacramento County Republican Party hosted a graphic this week comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden, with the caption "The only difference between Obama and Osama is BS,"The Sacramento Bee reports. The text of the graphic adds, "Waterboard Barack Obama."

That image was removed Tuesday in response to inquiries from the newspaper, but the site continues to report false claims, quotes and images about Obama, including the assertion that he snubbed troops on a visit to the Middle East, and that he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

E-mail smears have targeted Obama's patriotism since his presidential run began, but the Sacramento website appears to be the first case of the smears being openly adopted by an official GOP organization. The attacks come as polling shows voters growing increasingly impatient with the perceived negative tone of Obama rival John McCain's campaign, following attacks seeking to link Obama to a former 1960's radical.

Hitting the patriotism button is a time-honored political tactic to undermine support for the other side among Republican party professionals, says Stefan Forbes, a moviemaker who recently completed "Boogieman: The Lee Atwater Story," a film that documents such tactics. "But this time around, it may be that the global meltdown might overcome that, and that's the interesting thing," says Forbes.

The party site bolsters its false claim that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance with an equally false quote attributed to the candidate. "I don't want to be perceived as taking sides. There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message."

The text is actually from a satirical column that ran in The Arizona Conservative, according to urban legend mythbusters

Other fallacious "primary evidence" the site presents includes two fabricated quotes attributed to Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, and a report from a U.S. intelligence officer claiming that Obama blew off soldiers when he visited the troops at the Bagram Airforce base in Afghanistan. That letter was debunked by the New York Daily News, which reported in July that the letter's author admitted that the "information that was put out in my e-mail was wrong."

A photo hosted on the site depicts Obama holding a telephone receiver to his ear backwards. "When you are faking a pose for a photo-op, you'd think he can at least get the phone turned in the right direction!," the caption reads. The image is an altered version of a genuine photo in which Obama is seen using the phone properly.

Craig MacGlashan, the chairman of the Sacramento Republican County Party, is responsible for the site. MacGlashan, a lawyer, wasn't answering phone calls on Wednesday, according to his receptionist, and he didn't respond to a a voice mail inquiry.

Obama and McCain are squaring off Wednesday night in their third and final presidential debate before the November 4 election.

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