With the general election just a sound bite away, our biggest concern shouldn't be the economy, Iraq, gas prices, immigration, or rumors that Jake Gyllenhal and Reese Witherspoon have finally moved in together. Instead, we should be thinking about nicknames—for Barack Obama.
Newsweek ran a story some months back about Obama's switch from "Barry" to "Barack." Although conservative pundits relished the condescension potential in Barry, it ended up making everyone who used it sound like a schoolyard bully with a byline. But there is an older nickname floating in the ether, one with an innocuous construction but damaging implications, and I can't help but wonder if it will experience a revival: the good Senator from Hyde Park.
If John McCain manages to figure out why everyone is so upset over the price of gas between now and when the MSM quits humping his leg, he might have time to pull a bastardized version of the stunt Reagan pulled in 1966, and tie Obama to the academic radicals of Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. (Granted, the folks at U.C. aren't dropping acid en masse, occupying campus buildings, or hosting love-ins, but our cultural deviance threshold has decreased since the '60s—just ask David Horowitz.) Or maybe the average voter no longer feels threatened by the pale-faced residents of the Ivory Tower. If that's the case, my vote for "Anticipated Smear of the Year" goes to the one suggested over at Talking Point Memo.
Dave Weigel wrote about the biggest Obama smear to date here. Michael Moynihan wrote about the U. of Chicago's 100 least-informed faculty members here. Jesse Walker wrote about political paranoia and its deep roots in American politics here. Visit Obama's hopeless anti-smear website here (subjects include "Barack's Books," "Barack's Religion," and "Barack's Patriotism.")