Election 2008  
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What Will Obama Do When There's No Hillary Firewall?

Blinded by hatred for Hillary, the Right has not paid much attention to Obama. That will quickly change if he gets the nomination.
 
 
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The British newspaper the Daily Squib's tongue-in-cheek fake news report that Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Ron Edwards endorsed Democrat Presidential contender Barack Obama drew chuckles, sneers, and cracks. There was, of course, no such endorsement. But the reason it drew some press attention and momentary belief made perfectly good sense. The dummied up endorsement had nothing to do with any sudden love for Obama, but rather a hatred for Hillary Clinton. The fake article trumpeted the hate Hillary crowd's favorite rallying cry -- anybody but Hillary.

The biggest beneficiary of the Hillary loathe has been Obama. Her campaign has been sufficiently subverted and sabotaged by the legions of Hillary haters to the point that it's listing. If her campaign goes down, so will Obama's Hillary firewall. The gloves will be off and it won't be pretty.

There was an early hint of the dirty stuff that will come his way. The instant that Obama announced his campaign last February, National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre wasted no words when asked about Obama's strong support for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, and severe limits on handgun purchases during his tenure in the Illinois Senate.

He called Obama's pro-gun control stance "bad politics." LaPierre's admonition was an ominous warning that the powerful gun-lobby group would oppose Obama, and so would millions of other passionate gun owners that take their cue from the NRA.

That's just the start. His votes and views during his days in the Illinois Senate on taxes, abortion, civil liberties, civil rights, law enforcement and capital punishment have so far drawn little public attention, because of the media and a big chunk of the public's obsession with nailing Hillary. But in a head to head match up with the likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Republicans and conservative interest groups will surgically dissect his state Senate votes and they will find much there to pound him on.

The National Taxpayers Union will pound him for voting to impose hundreds of new taxes and fees on businesses in his last year in the state Senate. Though the tax hikes were deemed necessary to help close Illinois's crushing budget deficit, business and taxpayer interest groups screamed foul.

Obama's vote to raise taxes and his consistent pro-labor votes marked him as another tax and spend Democrat. This has been the dread label that Republicans have tagged Democratic contenders with in elections past. This always strikes an angry chord with millions of voters who equate higher taxes with government waste, inefficiency and pork barrel favoritism. And even more insidiously, equate high taxes with special interest giveaways to minorities and the poor.

Obama got a perfect rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council. In 2001, he backed legislation that restricted medical support in certain types of abortions where the fetus survives. Pro-life groups interpreted that as a vote to strengthen abortion rights.

His vote and views on choice will make him a prime target for pro-life groups. He got a zero rating from the National Right to Life Committee for voting for stem cell research, for funding abortions abroad, and against parental notification in the U.S. Senate.

Obama's pro-civil liberties votes on capital punishment and police power and the 100 percent rating he got from the ACLU won't help him dodge the soft-on-crime label on the issue of crime and punishment.

McCain and the GOP hit squads will go for the political jugular and lambaste him as an anti-police, anti-business, pro abortion, pro labor, pro-gun control, tax and spend liberal Democrat. Conservative interest groups will tar him as a liberal Democrat who will bend way over to pander to labor, minorities, and women. Obama's record on civil liberties, civil rights, abortion, and spending will endear him to millions of voters, but not in the South and the heartland states.

Then there's the personal dirty stuff. They'll hammer him for his dealings with an indicted Chicago financier, for possible conflicts of interest in other financial dealings and legislative votes, and for his fuzzy, oftentimes contradictory, statements and actions on the Iraq War and terrorism. Then there's the ultimate ploy: the race card. The GOP hit squads will dig, sift and comb through every inch of his personal life and poke through his voting record to find any hint of personal or political muck.

As long as Hillary was seen as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Obama's Teflon coat remained relatively unmarred. That will change, and change fast, if Hillary can't right the ship and quickly get back in the hunt for the nomination.

Obama knows what's in store for him without the Hillary firewall. A month ago he loudly declared that he will not be swift-boated by the GOP. He will be. The fake Klan endorsement notwithstanding, he can still thank Hillary that he hasn't been already.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).

 
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