Jewish Democrats: McCain apology the right thing

A brouhaha erupted earlier this week over a press release posted on the Web site of the Tennessee Republican Party. Titled “Anti-Semites for Obama,” the statement made a big deal about Louis Farrakhan’s praising of Barack Obama. Most of the criticism focused on the local GOP’s use of the Democrat’s full name – “Barack Hussein Obama” – and the inclusion of the much-talked-about photo of him wearing what the statement identifies as “Muslim attire.”

The National Jewish Democratic Coalition issued a statement decrying the release, but focusing primarily on what it described as the use of “anti-Semitism for political gamesmanship.” It called on McCain to condemn the Tennessee Republicans and “instruct all his campaign surrogates not to use charges of anti-Semitism for political purposes.”

According to reports, after pressure from the Republican National Committee and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the state GOP has backed down to some degree. The version of the press release currently on the Web site does not contain Obama’s middle name or the photo {UPDATE: The entire press release appear to have been removed]. The following “clarification” has been added:

This release originally referenced a photo of Sen. Obama and incorrectly termed it to be “”Muslim” garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo. Also, in order to diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release – that Sen. Obama has surrounded himself with advisers and received endorsements from people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel – we have deleted the use of Barack Obama’s middle name.

For his part, McCain reportedly voiced his objections to the flier, while noting he had no power at this time to stop. He also apologized to Obama – and, in the process, drew praise from the NJDC:

UPDATE: Yesterday, NJDC issued the enclosed press release. Today, we learned of reports indicating that John McCain has apologized to Senator Obama. This was the right thing for him to do. Sadly, the Tennessee Republican Party still has the release on its website, and it is standing by its smear charges. John McCain, as the presumptive nominee should do whatever he can to stop surrogates from taking such actions on his behalf.

Fat chance, says Josh Marshall of Talkingpointsmemo.com.

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