Hussein

HUSSEIN…. Way back in February, Karl Rove heard a growing number of Republicans blasting “Barack Hussein Obama,” and warned his fellow Republicans to drop the line. Rove argued it would only perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted, which in turn would hurt the party.

That same week, at an event in Ohio, McCain was introduced by some conservative loud-mouth named Bill Cunningham, who blasted “Barack Hussein Obama.” McCain, who was not on stage during Cunningham’s harangue, later expressed said he wanted to “disassociate” himself from the remarks. McCain added that he would take responsibility to ensure that similar comments are not repeated at future campaign events.

That was February. This is October.

For the second time in three days, the speaker at a McCain campaign rally used Barack Obama’s middle name “Hussein” in a demeaning fashion to ignite the crowd.

Speaking in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Bill Platt, the GOP chair of Lehigh County, twice referred to “Barack Hussein Obama” minutes before John McCain and Sarah Palin were set to take the stage.

On Monday, a local Florida sheriff preceded Palin’s speech by declaring: “On Nov. 4, let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened.”

To be fair, a campaign aide later conceded that this was “inappropriate rhetoric.” But the trend nevertheless seems to point in one direction: whipping the angry, far-right Republican base into a frenzy. That includes the increasing frequency of “Hussein” references, but it also includes looking the other way while campaign supporters exclaim “treason!,” “terrorist!,” and “kill him!” during official rallies.

Josh Marshall, not exactly one for off-the-wall theories, argued the McCain campaign may very well be doing this deliberately: “It is obviously with tacit approval (to believe anything else is to be a dupe at this point); and quite probably on the campaign’s specific instructions. Given the regularity of the cries of ‘treason’ and ‘terrorist’ and the like, and the frequency with which the screamers seem in oddly convenient proximity to the mics, we should probably be considering the possibly that these folks are campaign plants. It happens all the time. It’s just that usually they don’t scream out accusations of capital crimes.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.