By Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, April 18, 2008
In the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, with Sen. Joe McCarthy near the peak of his guilt-by-association bullying, he famously attacked the patriotism of a young Boston lawyer who worked for Joseph Welch, the Army’s chief legal representative.
“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” Welch responded. “Have you left no sense of decency?”
Now, as Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues to sink into a mud pile of guilt-by-association smears against Barack Obama, Welch’s famous question could be posed to the Clintons and their supporters: How far are they prepared to go – and have they “left no sense of decency?”
In the April 16 debate in Philadelphia, Sen. Clinton pounced when her husband’s former adviser, George Stephanopoulos, finally asked one of her campaign’s long-plotted attack lines – raising a tenuous association between Obama and an aging Vietnam-era radical William Ayers.
Acting as an ABC News debate moderator, Stephanopoulos -- and Clinton -- also injected a false suggestion that Ayers had either hailed the 9/11 attacks or had used the occasion as a grotesque opportunity to call for more bombings.
(In reality, an earlier interview about his memoir was coincidently published by the New York Times in its Sept. 11, 2001, edition, which went to press on Sept. 10, before the attacks. But Stephanopoulos and Clinton left the impression with the public that Ayers's comments represented a ghoulish reaction to the 9/11 attacks.)
In another guilt-by-association moment, Clinton linked Obama, via his former church pastor Jeremiah Wright, to Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan and a Hamas representative who had been allowed to publish an essay in the church’s newsletter.
“You know, these are problems, and they raise questions in people’s minds,” Clinton said. “And so this is a legitimate area, as everything is when we run for office, for people to be exploring and trying to find answers.”
So, Sen. Clinton believes it is now justified to question Sen. Obama’s patriotism by delving into the opinions of people who have played even minor roles in his political and personal life – or even people who associated with those people.