Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?\
-- Joseph N. Welch to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Army-McCarthy hearings, June 1954.
At long last, the Republican Party of Pennstylvania has apparently no sense of decency. Some of 55 years after the vicious, Red-baiting tactics of Joseph McCarthy were repudiated by America's better angels, the state GOP is picking up the tattered banner of McCarthyism and running with it -- literally, in fact, with this banner ad (top) on a popular political Web site. In this case, it's hard to say what is more appalling -- equating the sitting president of the United States with the Soviet dictators who slaughtered their political enemies and sent others to brutal gulags, or the cause this ad is promoting: The election of a judge to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The ad was was first noticed on the Pennsylvania blog Gort42 (also h/t downwithtyranny) -- it appears on the top of the website GrassrootsPA, which is the leading state-oriented conservative Web site in Pennsylvania. Last night, the image -- as captured and posted by Gort42 and now here -- and this ad was at top of the site when I first visited there around 10:30; later in the night, the same banner displayed a different message -- about bailouts, healthcare and the stimulus. It's not clear whether the image with the hammer-and-sickle "Obama" was replaced or whether it alternates with the other message.
It's not the first time that the Pennsylvania Republican Party has used extreme rhetoric about Barack Obama. Last fall, when he was the Democratic nominee -- as reported here at Attytood -- the state GOP chairman Robert Gleason issued a press release that called Obama "a terrorist's best friend." This new ad also picks up a theme that gained attention earlier this fall in Kansas City, when an anti-Obama billboard placed on I-70 had the Soviet hammer-and-sickle emblem with the message: ""How do you like your change now? Obama Nation. They are coming for you! The Taxpayer. First and Second Amendments are in jeopardy. Live free or Die."
But that billboard was placed there by a lone wingnut. This message was paid for by the established Republican Party in a large battleground state. The banner ad clicks through to a Web site called PAGOPJUDGES.com, a site that was created and paid for by the federal Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
The purpose of the site is to elect the GOP's nominee for the state Supreme Court, Joan Orie Melvin, and other Republican judicial nominee -- supposedly impartial judges who'd be elected on the backs of calling the president a Commie dictator. Pennsylvania is one of only seven states that elect Supreme Court judges -- this episode may give you an inkling why the other 43 think it's such a bad idea.
Ironically, many experts think that 2009 is shaping up as a good year for Republicans because of voter anger at Washington and over the economy. You'd think they wouldn't need to play the Commie card, then, but apparently today's GOP can't help itself. Ironically, I wrote last fall that the state GOP had hit rock-bottom with its anti-Obama rhetoric. I had no idea.
UPDATE: Belated credit where credit is due -- Gert42 got it from John L. Micek's excellent Capitol Ideas blog, which I urge everyone to patronize.