Stanley Fish wrote a piece for The Times a couple of days ago.
In 1952, when McCarthyism was at its height, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas labeled the investigative techniques of the junior senator from Wisconsin “guilt by association” (Adler v. Board of Education). Douglas added that McCarthyite tactics were “repugnant to our society” because, despite the absence of any overt wrongdoing, the pasts of those attacked were “combed for signs of disloyalty” and for utterances that might be read as “clues to dangerous thoughts.”
More than a half century later, “McCarthyism” was joined in the lexicon by “Swiftboating,” the art of the smear campaign mounted with the intention not of documenting a wrong, but of covering the victim with slime enough to cast doubt on his or her integrity. Now, in 2008, after a primary season increasingly marked by dirty pool and low blows, “McCarthyism” and “Swiftboating” have come together in a particularly lethal and despicable form.
Professor Fish goes on to write about Bill Ayres, who he knows personally and how he was used to tar Obama. But it is just as true for the Jeremiah Wright association: that the Clinton and McCain campaigns, with the total cooperation of the MSM, have combined McCarthyism and Swift Boating against Barack Obama. Obama can be accused of naivete for not publicly breaking with Wright before he announced for the Presidency. He made a point of not inviting him to the announcement ceremony, but he never made a Sister Souljah moment of it. That’s part of his character that is in the true tradition of his faith–“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.
But even if he has handled it poorly, what Wright says has nothing to do with Obama’s candidacy. It is “Guilt by Association.”
UPDATE:The Daily News says an associate of Hillary Clinton arranged the appearance of the Rev. Wright at The National Press Club yesterday. If so, that will go down in the history of dirty tricks in this country.