Yesterday in Cincinnati a radio host named Bill Cunningham spoke at McCain rally and gave a speech where he repeatedly referred to Barack Obama by including his middle name, Hussein:
Bill Cunningham, who hosts “The Big Show” with Bill Cunningham, a local program here that is also syndicated nationally, was part of a line of people lauding Mr. McCain and revving up the crowd before his appearance here before several hundred people at a theater here.
He lambasted the national media, drawing cheers from the audience, for being soft in their coverage of Mr. Obama compared to the Republican candidates, declaring they should “peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama.”
He went on to rail, “at one point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and start covering Barack Hussein Obama.”
Here’s the video of Cunningham’s speech:
After the rally, McCain addressed reporters and repudiated the remarks:
Which caused Cunningham to repudiate McCain:
“He just threw me under the bus for the national media. I have had it,” Cunningham blasted. “With McCain and — I’m going to endorse Hillary Clinton. I want Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States. I am going to throw my support behind Hillary Clinton.”
Aside from confirming that Cunningham is as much of a blowhard as Ann Coulter, there is the question of whether it’s acceptable to refer to Barack Obama using his middle name.
As with most things in politics, it depends. In Cunningham’s case, as well as others that have done the same during the primary season, it’s clear that he was using Hussein for reasons other than getting Obama’s name right. He was using it to feed into racial and religious prejudices and to perpetuate the false idea that Obama is a “secret Muslim.” The fact that Obama’s middle name happens to be the same as the former leader of Iraq is irrelevent — it also happens to be the name of the former King of one of America’s closest Arab allies in the Middle East — and it’s fairly clear that Cunningham was being a blowhard.
McCain was right to repudiate his remarks.
Update: Marc Ambinder notes that even Karl Rove has said it’s a bad idea to refer to Senator Obama using his middle name:
No less an authority figure than Karl Rove has warned Republican operatives from demagoguing Barack Obama’s middle name.
At a closed door meeting of GOP state executive directors in late January, Rove said the safest way to refer to Obama would be to use his honorific, “Sen. Obama.”
“The context was, you’re not going to stimatize this guy. You shouldn’t underestimate him,” one of the executive directors said. Rove said that the use of “Barack Hussein Obama” would perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted and would hurt the party.
Will that stop the Rush Limbaugh’s and Ann Coulter’s ? Of course not.