I've been wondering when and where we'd see the grimy smudge of Tucker Eskew's fingerprints come to the fore in the Presidential campaign ever since McCain shocked former officials of his 2000 campaign by hiring Eskew to work for Sarah Palin.
You'll recall that in 2000 Tucker Eskew and pals propagated the depraved racist rumor that McCain's adopted Bengali daughter Bridget McCain was actually African-American, with the implication that she was the product of an extramarital affair McCain allegedly had with a black woman and which he should therefore be ashamed of. Eskew's ploy was a desperate attempt on behalf of George W. Bush to regain momentum from McCain after Bush's loss in New Hampshire by appealing to the racist views of South Carolina Evangelicals. But it was also a preview of the tactics Eskew would resort to post-9/11 as a communication strategist for the Bush/Cheney administration.
After withdrawing from the 2000 race McCain gave an interview to Dad Magazine in which he stated the belief that "there is a special place in hell for people like those" who resort to such tactics.
It was with a sense of grim irony that we finally saw the distinctive Eskew fingerprints yesterday in a Palin speech falsely claiming that Obama pals around with terrorists. The Obama campaign's response eerily echoes McCain's own denouncements after feeling the sting of Eskew's racist rumors in 2000.
"No wonder his campaign's announced a plan to turn a page on the financial crisis, distract with dishonest, dishonorable assaults against Barack Obama," the ad says. "Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy and we can't afford another president who's this out of touch."
Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's reader blogs, Rand Koler succinctly describes the desperate situation McCain/Palin find themselves in.
The only course left to him is the road most traveled by his predecessors. His camp must forage in the past for bromides used by Reagan to rally support and engage in the sleazy practice of demagoguery, fear and hate mongering. The self described "mavericks" have leaped into perhaps the oldest political cesspool.
Sarah Palin this weekend has been shrieking that Obama associates with terrorists and is not a real American. CNN looked into these "charges" and found them utterly without merit. It seems a bit odd to dignify such things with inquiry but I applaud CNN's acceptance of the role of responsible medium and refusal to be a propaganda organ.
I trust that, as the McCain camp embraces its end justifying the means abandonment of integrity, that other media will follow CNN's lead and not give demagoguery the appearance of legitimacy by merely reporting its as news.
Tucker Eskew was Assistant Press Secretary for Reagan/Bush '84.
The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva wonders whether this is merely a failed test-balloon by Palin "testing limits of campaign decency" or just the beginning of it. I suspect it's just the beginning of it.
Apparently John McCain intends to be serving Tucker Eskew iced tea in that "special place in hell."