Memo to Hillary: Take a cue from John McCain

Yesterday I wrote about the brewing controversy over the so-called "dressed" Obama photo that a low-level Hillary supporter allegedly distributed. While the facts aren't entirely clear, what cheesed me off the most was the way Clinton campaign guru Maggie Williams responded with venom directed toward Obama, who had every right to be offended by the sleazy tactic:

If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

If Hillary's campaign is looking for an object lesson in how to handle a situation like this in the future (if there is one beyond March 4), they should study John McCain's playbook.

At a recent rally, John McCain supporter/talk show host Bill Cunningham took the stage and started firing low blows at Obama, most notably repeatedly using his middle name, Hussein, in an apparent attempt to once again foist the "Muslim Machurian Candidate" motif into the public consciousness:

"Now we have a hack, Chicago-style Daley politician who is picturing himself as change. When he gets done with you, all you're going to have in your pocket is change," Cunningham said as the audience roared.

The time will come, Cunningham added, when the media will "peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama" and tell the truth about his relationship with indicted fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko and how Obama got "sweetheart deals" in Chicago.

After the rally, when McCain faced reporters, he didn't wait for them to bring it up, and rather than trot out some bullshit that Obama shouldn't be ashamed of his middle name, immediately repudiated the remarks and distanced himself from Cunningham:

"I apologize for it," McCain told reporters, addressing the issue before they had a chance to ask the Arizona senator about Cunningham's comments.

"I did not know about these remarks but I take responsibility for them. I repudiate them," he said. "My entire campaign I have treated Senator Obama and Senator (Hillary Rodham) Clinton with respect. I will continue to do that throughout this campaign.

McCain called both Democrats "honorable Americans" and said "I want to dissociate myself with any disparaging remarks that may have been said about them."

Asked whether the use of Obama's middle name—the same as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein—is proper, McCain said: "No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."

See Hillary, that's how you do it. Say what you will about McCain, but in this instance at least, he showed a lot of class.

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