For some, and I emphasize some, these smears are just cover to oppose a candidate who, for reasons of race, culture or both, they can't accept. Whether or not the information is true is beside the point. An element of the electorate can't be bothered to discover what the facts are because it's easier to rationalize opposition on these "issues" than for reasons which, in the year 2008, aren't accepted in polite company.
This certainly seems to be the case with Findlay. It's the county seat of Hancock County and contains most of the population there. Could Obama be winning the town but for this campaign of smears? No. Obama only lost the county to Hillary Clinton by 14 points in the March 3 primary, but Bush clobbered Kerry there by 40 points. Most of these people were going to vote for McCain anyway; Obama's secret Allah worship or what have you is a convenient fiction. It reminds me of the way that Democrats I knew in Chicago in 2000 convinced themselves that Bush bottomed out on the Lovenstein Institute's IQ test.
Actually, I've been convinced for a little while now that the persistence of the Obama smears are a net positive for him. The strength of John McCain's brand among independents and liberals, and reporters, had a lot to do with the idea that he'd been cudgeled by low-down and filthy political smear merchants in 2000. Martin, again, explaining how that helped him this year in South Carolina:
Recognizing the national media's inclination to believe that dirty tricks and whispered smears were endemic to any Palmetto State contest, the McCain camp sought to play up a single letter sent to reporters in the state questioning the senator's time as a POW and the same predictable robocalls that had been launched by a pro-Huck outfit in every other primary state. The idea, of course, was to draw sympathy and embrace the role of victim a la 2000 when there were legitimate attacks in the state's primary. But this time, McCain was the closest thing to an establishment candidate in the race and there simply was no underground smear effort.
Back to Obama: If he was really being waylaid by these smears, would he have a 60/33 favorable/unfavorable rating in RealClearPolitics' average of the polls? The ongoing "smear" story may just be inoculating him for when McCain/RNC negative ads start dropping in a few months.
Not that it's making the smears any less fun! I particularly enjoyed this blog's "investigative" work on Obama's birth certificate… the argument seems to be that Obama's campaign forged a Hawaii birth certificate with photoshop, since it's hard to see the embossed seal on the version Obama's campaign gave to bloggers and media. Why would the Clifford Irving in Obama's shop, given a chance to forge a perfect document, try to fade out the seal? Because they're so sneaky, I assume. (Anyone who's not a moron can see the seal by slightly darkening the image Obama's campaign released.)
Extra-curricular smear fun: The Mitch and Nan Show blog is dropping ACME anvils on con man and Obama accuser Larry Sinclair on a regular basis. I'm enjoying the newest round of stories, which involve Sinclair getting pwn3d by my hometown newspaper.