The fabulous Karen Tumulty has a piece up over at Time.com today (sorry, for some reason can't get our blog's link function to work; go to Time.com's home page and you'll see it) about Obama's rumor-fighting initiative, a web site called fightthesmears.com that seeks to confront head on all those nasty flasehoods being whispered--and emailed--about him and his family. In addition to debunking the more pernicious tales, the site asks Obama supporters to, with a click of a button, "Spread the Word" about the truth (or, rather, the lack thereof) behind such rumors.  

It's a risky proposition, creating a laundry list of lies and exagerations that many voters may not have yet heard. But I think it's a shrewd one. The crazies, nasties (think Roger Stone) and conspiracy theorists will only get crazier, nastier and more conspiracy-minded as this race goes on, and Obama can't risk ignoring their blatherings--no matter how unbalanced the charges seem or how many times the campagin has pointedly refuted them. (For the last time, the man is not a Muslim and he is more than happy to recite the pledge of allegiance--hand over heart--for anyone who feels compelled to test his patriotism.)

Obama's success will hinge in large part on his ability to soothe the gut-level, often subconscious fears of people who are skittish about him because they're not quite sure if he's "one of us." To do this, he will have to be more aggressive than your average white-bread candidate with a boring white-bread name like John McCain. Better still, enlisting Obama's online groundtroops in the effort seems in keeping with the grassroots, participatory nature of his campaign.

Fingers crossed. God knows someone needs to find a better way to clean up the process. 

--Michelle Cottle