Scare tactics mark final election days

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In these last desperate days of the 2008 presidential campaign, we must suffer visions of “divas,” plumbers, skinheads and Karl Marx dancing before our disbelieving eyes.

Karl Marx? Has it come to that arcane scare tactic?

We’ve been promised that this election would be different: It would be about character, experience, qualifications and maybe even issues, such as our tanking economy.

But in this final week, the telebabble is going to be about stupid stuff, speculative stuff and scary stuff.

How about those reputed neo-Nazi skinheads - Daniel Cowart, 20 of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesseman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., - who federal authorities accused of plotting to assassinate Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama as part of a killing spree to kill 88 blacks and behead 14 others?

No wonder those Secret Service agents around Mr. Obama, the target of another assassination plot, always look so sweaty. To his credit, Mr. Obama dismissed the nascent plan by saying, “This is not American, this is not our future.”

We can only pray he’s right.

And how about that $150,000 wardrobe the Republican National Committee bought for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate of presidential nominee Sen. John McCain. Sexist? No. Think Democrat John Edwards’ $400 haircut.

But do you care more about Mrs. Palin’s Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue duds, or about her troubling ethics in her home state? Even more important, what about her readiness, or lack thereof, to be commander in chief if she were pressed into service?

Sure, the fancy ensembles cut into her image as “Sarah Barracuda,” but I never bought her shout out “I’m a redneck woman” in the first place.

Is Mrs. Palin a “diva,” as one cowardly anonymous McCain campaign worker told several media outlets? Not judging by her appearance standing next to potential first lady Cindy McCain, who is often dripping in multiple-carat diamonds and three-strand pearl necklaces.

It’s more ridiculous to speculate on whether Mrs. Palin, with such high polling negatives, is trying to stab Mr. McCain in the back to position herself for 2012. She’s probably spending all her energy trying to get to Nov. 4 without making another gaffe to be parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”

Get serious. This silliness comes the same week as the curiously timed U.S. attack on Syria.

Still, the most distracting and divisive stuff comes from those raising the specter of Karl Marx, socialists and the “redistribution of wealth,” primarily based on a seven-year-old public radio interview Mr. Obama gave while discussing the Supreme Court’s role in the civil rights movement.

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