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The Smear That Won't Die

There was a good--albeit depressing--Politico article over the weekend about how the Obama-is-a-Muslim smear (first seen on Fox News last spring and quickly batted down by the Obama campaign) has been perpetuated via anonymous emails:

"Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background," warns an e-mail titled "Who Is Barack Obama," that was circulating in South Carolina political circles this summer and sent to Politico by a South Carolina Democrat.

"The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the U.S. from the inside out; what better way to start than at the highest level?"

"Please forward to everyone you know," it ended.

If this sort of crap was just confined to anonymous emails, it probably wouldn't have that much of an impact. But, as the Politico story notes, the emails work in conjunction with some dog-whistle politicking from the usual suspects:

The misinformation is buttressed by occasional winks from conservative pundits like Ed Rogers, who referred to the candidate as "Barack Hussein Obama" and radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, who regularly includes the senator's otherwise little-used middle name.

(Shock jock Michael Savage did him one better, according to the liberal media monitor Media Matters, calling the senator "Hussein Barack Obama.")

--Jason Zengerle