The past several days, some supporters of the McCain campaign has reached deep into the bag of tricks. They are attempting to paint Barack Obama as dangerous, foreign and other again appealing to the sense of xenophobia buried deep in the hearts of many Americans. I think it was Cincinnati's own Bill Cunningham (a right wing shock jock here on WLW) who first began using Barack's middle name "Hussein" when introducing John McCain at a rally. An excerpt from an article published around that time.
During the segment, after Cunningham referred to Sen. John McCain as "John Juan Pablo McCain," co-host Alan Colmes said to Cunningham: "I notice you make up names for John McCain. You don't call him John Sidney McCain III, which is his full name, but you call him Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama. So you have a double standard there, don't you, Mr. Cunningham?" Cunningham replied: "My standard, Alan Colmes, is for the American people and the American way of life." Introducing the segment, co-host Sean Hannity aired a clip of Cunningham's appearance at a rally for McCain earlier that day in which he also repeatedly referred to "Barack Hussein Obama." Hannity also quoted a portion of McCain's response, saying: "I take responsibility. I repudiate what he said. I will not tolerate anyone that denigrates either Senator [Hillary] Clinton or Senator Obama."
Bill Cunningham was soundly chastized for using Obama's middle name, including a reprimand from John McCain himself. McCain has condemned the recent uses of Obama's middle name again this week. Yet, it keeps happening. It's obvious why the people using "Hussein" would want to interject that, especially when the main speaker, Sarah Palin or John McCain is about to step to the mic and try to tie Obama to domestic terrorism. How convenient that Obama rhymes with Osama (saw it on a t-shirt on CafePress yesterday. Very cleve one I might add). How convenient that Hussein is the last name of the evil one "Saddam Hussein". But, I think this gives us an opportunity to talk about something more important.
John McCain's middle name is Sidney. His full name is John Sidney McCain, III. (BTW, in doing research to make sure I got his middle name correct, I ran across a nickname for him I Googled "John McCain's Middle Name" and a website popped up that suggested I Google "John Songbird McCain" a website that suggested I Google that phrase. Wow. Talk about Swift Boating. But, I digress).
I quickly (and I mean quickly) want to compare the two candidates' life stories. John Sidney McCain, III was born to privilege and money. His father and his grandfather were 4 star admirals in the Navy. His father married into oil money. He was a mediocre student at best. He was admitted to the Naval Academy and allowed to fly planes based largely on his family name. I don't think anyone will dispute any of that. John McCain met Cindy when he was still married and had three children at home. He lied about being married and about his age. He said he was 37 (he was 41). She said she was 27 (she was 24). His first congressional seat was basically bought for him by Cindy. A seat came open in Arizona, she bought a house in the district and "loaned" his campaign $169,000. I don't say any of this to "bash" John McCain. We all have done things we are not proud of and John McCain has stepped up and taken responsibility for the failure of his marriage.
Barack Hussein Obama was born to a mother who had married a Kenyan. His father abandoned the family when Barack was 2 years old . Barack would see him once after that at the age of 10) He was raised by his single mother, with the help of an Indonesian stepfather she would marry later for a time. He was a troubled student in his youth. But, during college, he got himself together and ended up at Harvard, and the President of the Law Review) He dedicated his early years after law school to organizing the unprivileged communities on the South Side of Chicago, foregoing over 600 lucrative job offers to make peanuts. He has shown dedication to family and faith and embodies the American ideal of "You can make it if you try." Interestingly enough, he was known as "Barry" during his younger years. But, at some point, he decided to embrace his heritage and, in spite of the obvious jeopardy to any political aspirations, embrace his given name of Barack. There's a fascinating story in "The Audacity of Hope" about Obama having lunch with a friend shortly after 9-11 and the friend mourning the end of Obama's political career because of the similarity of his name to Osama Bin Laden's. But, by this time, Barry had decided to become Barack.
Of course names given to us by our parents really tell us nothing about ourselves as a person. But, if some McCain supporters want to make a big deal out of Barack Obama's funny name, let them have their fun. I hope Barack Hussein Obama will continue to wear his name as a badge of courage because it actually in a way symbolizes his uniquely American story. John Sidney McCain, III is a man of privilege. He is where he is today largely due to his aristocratic background and marrying into the money of Cindy McCain who helped paved the way for his political career. John Sidney McCain , III was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and good for him, he has taken advantage of his position and has served his country.
Barack Obama is someone who has overcome the deck stacked against him. John Sidney McCain, III has played the hand he was dealt, also. But, John Sidney McCain, III got a much better hand. Of the two American tales, if I had to choose which one (as Bill Cunningham put it) is more about "the American people, the American way of life", I know which I would choose. How about you?