Daily News: Shameless John McCain plays the Willie Horton card

Daily News

Shameless John McCain plays the Willie Horton card

In 1988, the road to the White House took a detour through the gutter when George H.W. Bush, the father of our current President, unfairly tied his Democratic opponent,Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, to the racially charged image of William Horton, a vicious rapist and murderer.

Horton, serving life without parole, got out of prison thanks to an ill-advised prison furlough policy that Dukakis supported. The convict went on to rape a woman in front of her husband while on release.

Fair game, to a point. But Republican operatives gleefully beamed Horton’s menacing mug shot and horrific deeds into millions of American homes.

They pretended the ads weren’t racist. “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it,” said Roger Ailes, then a Republican media operative and now president of Fox News.

It became the worst kind of racial scare-mongering, a low point in modern politics.

But 20 years later, Willie Horton has been summoned back to presidential politics – not as the frightening black rapist but as a legion of shadowy, easily demonized social outsiders.

Obama is being tied to – take your pick – Muslim terrorists, violent white hippies and even uppity “minority homeowners” who somehow, according to GOP spin artists, are among the top villains in wrecking the global economy.

McCain has begun harping on Obama’s tenuous connection to William Ayers, an ex-radical who served with Obama on the six-member board of a Chicago charity.

And the cynical, poisonous effort by McCain backers to lay blame for the economic crisis on “minority homeowners” running amok in the credit markets is also doomed to fail.

Not only is the real culpability clear, but many of the guilty have already confessed.

No sane person believes this mass collusion and delusion of funny money was hatched by striving black and Latino families. Yet GOP attack dogs and media allies like Fox News’ Neil Cavuto have embraced that story.

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