It's gone too far...
John McCain opened the Pandora's Box of hate and bigotry, of disenfranchisement and scapegoating, and there's no way for him to reel it in. Nor do I suspect that he truly realizes the power of it either. Not when he says things like:
"After I whip his you know what in this debate, we're going to be going out 24/7," McCain said of his upcoming debate with Obama, but seeming to consider recent criticism that his words have been too inflammatory, he quickly told supporters to be respectful.
Really? Telling supporters you're planning on whipping (no loaded imagery there) your opponent seems like a smart way to let them know that they must remain respectful? Frank Rich writes an excellent op-ed on how McCain's campaign has framed their battle against "The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama":
(I)t’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.
What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
Mob mentality is a scary thing to watch. Anybody remember the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes social experiment? What these McCain supporters are doing is no less rational or frightening than those children ready to beat up their classmates because they had blue eyes. They are being taught to think of Obama as a terrorist, and the implications could be catastrophic.