McCain defends Obama Against Slur

McCain very decently defended Obama against an accusation that he was an Arab (not insulting in itself, although incorrect) and, by implication, a terrorist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8XmerZEyHE

This has been mentioned in this thread( http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=487363 ), but not elsewhere, and I thought it deserved recognition. McCain’s response was decent and praiseworthy, and I’d love to find some way to reinforce this behavior, short of actually voting for the man. I notice that the audience responded positively, too, which is a Good Thing. I don’t think we’ve seen enough of this sort of honesty and civility, and I thought it worth while to point it out. I haven’t breen watching the news this weekend, and I don’t know how much coment this has received.

I note that Obama has thanked McCain:

I disagree.

Too little, too late.

Positively? Have you seen this video? His supporters boo him after he tries to defend Obama’s decency. That is definitely not a Good Thing.

His handlers probably bitched him out afterward.

538 has an interesting article on a possible October Surprise.
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/10/is-drudge-priming-mccain-reboot.html

Given that McCain’s campaign, with McCain’s tacit approval, has been spreading the “friends with terrorists! Doesn’t believe in OUR America! Can’t be trusted!” meme in every speech, surrogate interview and TV ad, McCain saying “He’s not an Arab” isn’t exactly a mark of honor.

You have got to be kidding. McCain’s campaign have been smearing Obama calling him a terrorist sympathiser and all sorts of similar garbage and constinue to do so and this is supposed to balance all that? You can’t be serious.

Especially since this bout of faux decency was most likely inspired by declining poll numbers rather than actual decency…

I am really amazed by how many people believe that McCain is a decent guy at the mercy of his campaign staff.

Actually I think presidential candidates have generally avoided being filmed in the midst of spontaneous racist tirades for the last several decades. I give McCain credit for having the wit to actively challenge the remarks rather than just ignoring them; but holding that behavior up as noteworthy ‘honesty and civility’ (rather than pure damage control) is like holding up baby-kissing as a sign that a politician truly loves children.

The real response to the claim that Obama is an arab or a musim is this:

So what?

Or more precisely:

What does that have to do with his qualifications to be president?

It is not illegal for an American of Arab descent to run for president. It is not illegal for a muslim to run for president (my daughter’s best friend, a muslim, is currently an officer in Iraq).

How would have McCain responded if someone had attacked his opponent for being of Irish descent? Wouldn’t he have said something about how that’s irrelevant?

But he didn’t even say Obama wasn’t an Arab! He shook his head and said “no” to the lady (off-mike), but when he addressed the crowd, he affirmed what a great guy Obama was but didn’t actually refute the assertion!

Essentially, for those who actually believe Obama’s an Arab, McCain said nothing to dispel this myth–he just argued that he was an OK guy (implicitly, “anyway”).

Given the tenor of his campaign lately, this merits no more than one single golf clap from me.

  1. He was rattled and tried to get rid of her and the assertion as quickly as possible.

  2. The woman’s intent was clearly not to claim merely that Obama was a person who spoke Arabic and is descended from the peoples of the Arabian peninsula. It was to claim that he’s secretly an enemy of America. McCain wasn’t trying to correct anyone on their understanding of human geography and Obama’s ancestry, but rather the notion that he is some sort of hidden al-Qaida mole.

THANK YOU for saying this. Why has the dichotomy been set up as “Arab” vs. “decent family man”? Are the two somehow mutually exclusive? I think not, and McCain did nothing to dispel the implicit bigotry by his statement.

For a lot of people, especially the ones in those videos, there is a dichotomy. I don’t believe that McCain was reinforcing that dichotomy, he was merely recognizing that many of his voters feel that way. Instead of getting into a confusing diatribe about how “Arab” and “decent family man” are not mutually exclusive, which would have been unlikely to change anybody’s mind (see: the interview with the “Obama is an Arab” lady, who following McCain’s admonishment continued to believe that Obama was indeed an Arab), he addressed the underlying presumption of what she was saying. I don’t fault him for that.

Oh, I completely buy that he was trying to address the issue on the spot and attempted to convey that Obama was not-so-bad as some thought. But the defense still sounded like something he’s not all that practiced in saying (almost as if he would rather not be defending him in the first place). And it’s still disingenuous to say that there’s nothing to be “scared” about an Obama presidency when he’s been doing nothing but fear-mongering for months on that premise.

The only appropriate response would have been to whack her with the mic. Actions speak louder than words.

Isn’t it obvious? He and Palin are running a classic Good Cop/Bad Cop on us. :smack:

Actually, I partly agree with the OP. While I’ve been very disappointed in the campaign McCain has run, I do think he is at his core a decent guy. I think his campaign would probably like to go more negative and dishonest than he’s willing to go. My disappointment comes at how much more dishonest and negative he’s gone than I would have expected him to, based on my perception of him from the years up to around 2005 or so.

I’m not saying I fault McCain for not launching into a discussion of racial/ethnic/religious identity and its lack of relationship with moral values at that particular moment. But I don’t know that I’m going to pat him on the back for his brief remark, either. What he said in the moment barely met a minimum standard of common decency, and it would have been nice to see him follow up that remark with some kind of more extensive explanatory statement later.

At the DNC, Bill Clinton, Obama and others all began their speeches with what a good and decent man they think John McCain is. Every person at the RNC spent their speeches trashing Obama. Sarah Palin has given speeches at rallies at which “Kill him”, “terrorist”, and racial epithets have been yelled when she was denouncing Obama- not once did she take issue with them (or with the racist dolls at a couple of her rallies).

McCain did not have to do what he did about the slur and for that he is perhaps a decent man. Of course if he hadn’t done it, with the cameras rolling, he also knew good and well what every news story would lead with, so it could have been a matter of political expedience as well, but I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt. Either way, to borrow a theme from Chris Rock, “You’re not supposed to let people libel and trash your opponent when you know it’s not true, what do you want- a cookie?”
If Obama took a question from the audience that began with “I think John McCain is a twisted evil fascist…” then I have no doubts, and I doubt McCain or most of his supporters would have doubts, that Obama would quickly correct them.