During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better. [Emphasis added.]
Notably, the rancor toward Obama at McCain/Palin rallies has escalated after the two Republicans and their surrogates began hitting Obama's association with William Ayers harder and harder, as their poll numbers started to fade everywhere. That is what Rep. Lewis was condemning.
After McCain's campaign hit back hard at Lewis's statements, calling them beyond the pale, the Obama campaign put out the following statement:
Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies. But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for President of the United States 'pals around with terrorists.' As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together. That is the kind of campaign Senator Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead.
The fact is that when someone yelled "Terrorist!" about Obama at a McCain rally, McCain said nothing, in spite of obviously having heard that incendiary cry. So it is quite a marvel that Sen. McCain should have the gall to call his opponent to repudiate Congressman Lewis's statements when neither he nor his running mate have done anything in real time, or anything of any visibility, to rebuff those who cried "Terrorist!", "Kill him!", "Bomb Obama", "Traitor!", etc.
Which leads us to Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from tonight's Countdown.