McCain’s November Surprise Is a Dud

I was planning to write something about the Rashid Khalidi smear today, but it seems I was too slow: That smear has already been overtaken by another one: Obama’s Kenyan aunt, who lives in public housing in Boston, has made a number of small donations to her nephew’s campaign, but the contributions are illegal because she was told to leave the United States after her request for asylum was denied in 2004:

The campaign of Sen. Barack Obama will refund a small number of contributions made by Obama’s aunt, who has been living in the United States illegally, according to a published report.

The woman, Zeituni Onyango, lives in state-subsidized public housing in Boston and is the half-sister of Obama’s late father.

The Associated Press reported today that Obama’s aunt had been instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya.

Obama campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Onyango gave $265 to the campaign. Foreign nationals who do not hold Green Cards are not permitted to donate to American presidential campaigns, though legal permanent residents are allowed to do so.

“Given the information that has been brought to our attention, the contributions are being refunded,” Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, told The Washington Post this morning.

The real story here, though, is how this became a story at all:

Here’s how the right’s big eleventh-hour smear on Obama was carried out.

First the Murdoch-owned Times of London reported Thursday that Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is living in a Boston public-housing complex. It’s unclear how the paper learned of the woman’s presence in the U.S.

From there, the story quickly got taken up by the right-wing echo chamber. Fox News (also Murdoch-owned, of course), Drudge, the Boston Herald, and various conservative blogs — as well as some mainstream outlets — began breathlessly hyping the story.

But the Times had been unable to tie up one key detail. It reported:

The Times could not determine their immigration status and an official at Boston City Hall said that Ms Onyango was a resident of Flaherty Way but not registered to vote on the electoral roll. However, that Ms Onyango made a contribution to the Obama campaign would indicate that she is a US citizen.

But that was easily taken care of. The Associated Press was the first to confirm, in a story posted this morning, that Onyango is here illegally after her request for asylum was rejected by an immigration judge four years ago.

But note the way in which AP seems to have obtained the information. High up in the story, it reports:

Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release.

“That’s about as transparent a red flag as an outfit like the AP is usually willing to give,” Josh Marshall notes:

… Quite likely working in concert with the McCain campaign, a Bush administration official is leaking details on an immigration case to try to help McCain three days before the election. It’s shades of Bush I’s riffling through Bill Clinton’s passport files just before the 1992 election in a desperate last minute gambit as they were swirling down the drain.

This is one time, of course, when illegal leaking does not trouble the right. But it’s November 1 and they’re desperate. This is just one more thing to throw against the wall. It’s a pretty pathetic attempt, though. It’s hard to see how this has any relevance to Obama’s candidacy. Zeituni Onyango and Obama are not particularly close; he did not know about her immigration status and there is no rational argument to be made that he should have known; and now that he does know, he has instructed his staff to refund her the money she gave his campaign.

In short, who cares?

… People often vote for very irrational reasons, but I wonder how many Americans are out there this morning thinking, “I was going to vote for a healthier economy and a sensible foreign policy, but Obama has a half-aunt that apparently was denied asylum and didn’t leave. Now, I want more of the same for four more years.”

11 Responses to “McCain’s November Surprise Is a Dud”

  1. Eric Dondero says:

    This “surprise” is not from the McCain camp. This came from the liberal UK Times.

  2. Eric Dondero says:

    BTW, we Rightwingers don’t necessarily have a problem with her being an illegal alien. Our problem is with her being an illegal alien AND RECEIVING GOVERNMENT BENEFITS!!!

    What in the world is this woman doing living in public housing? My gosh. Surely even you liberals see how this is a very bad thing. Should we just invite the entire world into the United States to live here on our taxpayer’s money?

    PLEASE LIBERALS!!! Be reasonable for once. This is a huge deal.

  3. Kathy says:

    The London (UK) Times is NOT liberal, Dondero. It’s owned by Rupert Murdoch. Idiot.

    What in the world is this woman doing living in public housing?

    What in the world does that question have to do with Obama? My gosh. Surely even you far right lunatics can see what absolute retarded morons you are going on about one woman living in public housing who has no connection to the Obama campaign whatsoever. PLEASE, this is a huge deal. Cretins like you are actually VOTING in this election.

  4. radical_Moderate says:

    Having a tenuous blood tie with this woman does not make her part of Obama’s family, jeesh. For god’s sakes, Cindy Lou McCain has 2 half siblings who she actually knows and she still claims to be an only child…the right is absolutely shameless. The same applies to Bill Ayers who sits on at least one board, the Annenberg, that was started by a Reagan Era Republican, and yet the Right insists that Obama, then an up and coming Politican chosen to sit on the board was expected to walk in, see Ayers (whose crimes where carried out almost 40 years ago when Obama was 8) and flee in outrage, even though Ayers has become a member of Mainstream society who is deeply involved in Child Education, and anti-poverty issues….I can’t believe the crazy shit the wing-nuts come up with, and unfortunately, I can see a Clinton era future for President Obama rife with similarly insane conspiracy rumors of the “Clinton was a murderous Arkansas Drug Kingpin” sort. On the positive side, Obama has shown himself to have a tough hide.

  5. matttbastard says:

    Dondero’s a spoof, right?

  6. Macswain says:

    No, Matt. Word is Sarah Palin has been commenting all over the blogs under the name “Eric Dondero.”

  7. tas says:

    Ahhh, these freedom loving righties.. They must really be suffering cognitive dissonance over this story. On one hand, this woman is living here illegally and she’s partially related to Obama, which makes their hands immediately race to their crotch for a furious masturbatathon. But what happens when they remember all their placards about freedom? She applied for political asylum from Kenya. Checking Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Kenya ranks 147 out of 179 nations surveyed — ranking lower than Iran, the right’s new favorite target concerning loss of freedoms in a society. So where’s their uproar about her asylum request being rejected? These fucking assholes couldn’t shut up about Elian Gonzales 8 years ago. Ironically, Cuba ranks 65 on TI’s index.

    Hypocrites. The lot of them.

  8. A says:

    Ouch giving his poor old auntie the boot? That’s cold Obama and you won’t even take your own families money, but he’ll take the American people money, that’s for sure.

  9. tas says:

    Anyone check out Dondero’s photo from his blog?

    Hey Eric, the 70s called. They want their mustache back.

  10. Kathy says:

    Did you see that line on his blog, “Real libertarians believe in protecting the homeland first”? Talk about being ignorant of history. THE HOMELAND? What is this country? Nazi Germany?

  11. tas says:

    He doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about — real libertarians believe in secession. I’ve observed them before, in their natural habitat, so…

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