Most people have heard of Ashley Todd by now. A 20 year old volunteer for McCain’s campaign from Pittsburgh who claimed that a tall black man robbed her at an ATM then beat her and scratched a “B” (for Barack) into her face upon seeing the McCain bumper sticker on her car. At first, conservative pundits jumped all over this story because it showed that ALL Obama supporters are clearly tall, violent, thieving, black men. Then some hilarious inconsistencies appeared in her story… the bank’s security cameras showed no signs of the supposed attack… the “B” was backwards, as if someone of poor mental faculties had done it to themselves in a mirror… Now she is being charged for lying to the police.
There are, obviously, two outrages in her story. One is that she injured herself and tried to blame an Obama supporter, the second is that he was black. Her race baiting means that McCain is going to have to be extra careful in the next week and a half, because he cannot afford to let people connect his rhetoric or behavior to this young woman.
Now, in defense of McCain… I have said in the past, that you cannot let the behavior of a candidate’s most extreme supporters reflect on the candidate. Many crazy things have been posted to YouTube by supporters of Obama. McCain cannot be held responsible for this young woman’s actions unless he, in any way supported her actions (showing sympathy before the lie was exposed doesn’t count), which I am certain he did not, or if he directly or indirectly incited this kind of behavior from his supporters (that one is up for a debate). Personally, I don’t think that he has done enough to quell the violent, racist and hateful things shouted at some of his rallies and the rallies of his running mate, but I don’t think that makes him completely culpable here.
I don’t think that a candidate has to apologize for everything that people do in their name (who would have the time), but I do think that McCain needs to (and probably will) make a statement renouncing her actions as she was a volunteer for his campaign. If he doesn’t, it will be another case of him not doing enough to quell this sort of behavior.
Also, it remains to be seen whether Ashley Todd has mental health problems. The police are likely to have her examined before she is released. If she does, then I hope she can get the help she needs. If she doesn’t, then she is a horrible racist liar and deserves to suffer the full consequences that the law can bring against her.