A lot of charges that skirt the borders of truth get made in a political campaign. And that's particularly true in this presidential election. And many of them come and go with little comment.
But an e-mail sent out a few days ago to Jewish voters from the state Republican Party -- and signed by former State Supreme Court Justice Sandra Newman, among others -- has stirred the wrath of Pennsylvania Democrats.
In a conference call with reporters Saturday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. said the e-mail was part of a Republican campaign of "fear and smear and slash and trash." State Rep. Josh Shapiro of Montgomery County called it "scurrilous."
The e-mail listed a number of reasons why Jews should worry about a Barack Obama presidency. The language was heated. And the text included at least two misstatements of fact.
One was that Obama "taught members of ACORN to commit vote fraud." In fact, Obama did instruct ACORN members in the 1990s on some aspects of community organizing. There is no evidence that he taught them anything having to do with voter registration, let alone vote fraud.
The other untruth was that William Ayers, the 1960s radical with whom Obama served on an educational reform board and who hosted a political fundraiser for Obama in 1995, "thought the terrorists didn’t do enough on 9/11.”
In fact, the much-cited quote from Ayers was that he thought his radical group, the violent Weather Underground, didn't do enough during the 1960s and 1970s. It had nothing whatseover to do with the terrorists who struck the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. His infamous quote happened to appear in The New York Times' edition of Sept. 11, 2001, meaning he actually uttered the words sometime before 9/11.
In addition, the e-mail noted that Obama has called Ayers "just a guy in the neighborhood." It asked: "If a known terrorist lived in your neighborhood, would he just be a guy in your neighborhood, or would you be calling the FBI to have him removed?” Of course, there are no charges pending against Ayers and haven't been since 1974.
Michael Barley, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, told The New York Times that the e-mail "definitely went a little bit farther than the facts would support" and that the political operative who composed it had been fired. Barley apologized and promised that a corrective e-mail would be sent out.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.