Short of some unhinged, racist attack on Barack Obama signed by the RNC and KKK, it is hard to imagine anything worse than a Republican email campaign likening an Obama victory to the rise of Hitler.

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 10/27/2008

As far as I am concerned, the RNC has finally hit absolute rock bottom with their latest smear campaign against Barack Obama.  An email circulating around Pennsylvania equates voting for Obama with enabling the rise of Hitler, claiming further that an Obama Presidency will lead to "a second Holocaust."   To make matters worse, the letter is signed by three prominent Pennsylvania Republicans, but has been disavowed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania--the most cowardly bait an switch tactic possible.

The letter contains recycled misinformation about Sen. Obama's views on Israel.  But at the conclusion, it introduces a startling new line of argument by making reference to the rise of Nazism:

Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008. Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let's not make a similar one this year!

Now, most people are probably thinking:  Who are these people who will read a letter equating Barack Obama with Adolph Hitler and be persuaded?  Amazingly, there are people who respond to these kinds of attacks.  Mostly, they are older Jewish voters who have been thinking and worrying about Israel from a distance for most of their adult lives.  Many of them are not very engaged with organized politics, but they are members of synagogues and have, over the years, made multiple donations to Jewish charities focused on Israel. 

But they are not all older voters.  There are young-ish Jewish voters who have invested their identities deeply in the Israel, typically as a result of visiting Israel as young children and then again in college.  These Jewish identity voters follow Israeli politics closer than they follow American politics and have a 'home-team' kind of allegiance to the idea of protecting Israel. 

Most Jewish voters--at least 75%--do not respond to this kind of email.  They look at this kind of smear campaign and are offended by its abuse of Holocaust memory and by its attempt to undermine honest and open civic debate. 

So why do this?  Why would any branch of the GOP use this tactic given the low possibility that it will work?

In a word: cynicism.    There is a faction within the Republican Party that has zero respect for the electorate, total disdain for Holocaust memory, and absolutely no interest in healthy civic debate.  This faction would rather destroy civic culture in this country than loose an election.  They would rather turn Holocaust memory into a sucker-punch email gimmick than take responsibility for their policies.  Unfortunately, John McCain has fallen in league with this faction, both because he his campaign has given in to his own egotism and because his campaign has lost all semblance of organization. 

God only knows who is really running the Republican Party right now, but it certainly is not John McCain.  Then again, John McCain and Sarah Palin have been spending their time on the campaign trail whipping up fear of communism, so perhaps whipping up fear of another Holocaust is par for the McCain-Palin course.

Whatever the case may be, the GOP has hit rock bottom with this one.  Short of some unhinged, racist attack on Barack Obama signed by the RNC and the KKK, it is hard to imagine anything worse than a Republican email campaign likening an Obama victory to the rise of Hitler.

© 2008 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2008, Frameshop

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